Saturday, February 7, 2009

This will make you sick




3PennyJane points us to a story that you might find as the plot of a credibility-testing novel but is (alas) fact:

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has spent a good part of his time on the clock opposing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act so that his donors in the Tennessee Walker Torture Corporation can operate unimpeded.

Why? Because they give him money, of course; it's the American way folks. Here's a taste of the article:

“McConnell probably has caused more problems for horse protection single-handedly than any other person. He set the cause of horse protection back by years,” said Donna Benefield, administrative director of the Horse Protection Commission, a USDA-certified inspection organization in Gallatin, Tenn.

“He has supporters here (in Tennessee) — financial supporters, if not people who can vote for him — who are doing illegal things and don’t want to get caught,” Benefield said. “It’s very important to them that the law be loosely enforced. Sen. McConnell has been their champion in that.”

McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, who stands for re-election Nov. 4, declined to be interviewed for this story or answer the written questions that his office requested.


And if you want to see something strange - beautiful horses moving so weirdly it boggles the mind - check out this video of the finalists and winners at a 2007 TWH national competition:

18 comments:

Grey Horse Matters said...

That's just horrible. I don't want to use offensive language, so I will just say these owners/sponsors are just a bunch of jerks. And Mr. Senator should be outsted out of office come his next election. What's the matter with these people anyway, these horses are in pain and clearly being abused. I don't know that much about the competitions but if you need to abuse a horse to enter I think you should be prosecuted.
As I watched the video I was wondering if it is desirable or natural for the horses head to bob that much, I know when my horse does that he's lame. As I said I don't know much about the way these horses are supposed to go so that may be natural considering their gait. This organization needs to really crack down on these offenders. Very disturbing.

ezra_pandora said...

Our very first boarding barn was owned by people big into walking horses. Now, we never saw them doing anything bad to their horses, and I honestly couldn't say they did or did not. They had a huge walking horse show every year and we saw some very sad looking horses. They are very beautiful, but it takes some of it away knowing it's not a natural thing.

I wish I could find the big thing about this girl and her family who did the natural walking horse, not padded or anything. They fought and fought (it might have even been a feature on Fugly) and finally got the girl allowed. I believe she placed last and you could hear the audience booing (because she didn't want to do the padded) when she went around. It was sad, but it showed the HUGE difference between the natural and altered walking. And it's really sad that high up officials would participate in something so damaging.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Up until last year my only experience with gaited horses was my Midnight Sun Tennessee Walking Horse Breyer model. Then I watched Paso Finos and Peruvian Pasos at the Western States Horse Expo. Then I met a Tennessee Walking Horse out on the trails. I didn't see anything unusual about its gait. It looked just like my Arabs at a walk. However, I have been very interested in experiencing a ride on a gaited horse. I've been contemplating making a TWH my next horse.

I was reading up on gaited horses last night, and the book said that all the gaits are natural, but some are either enhanced or exaggerated with training. The horses in the video look like spiders crawling on their front ends and old, arthritic German Shepherds on their hind ends.

halfpassgirl said...

I wonder what the Honorable Sen. McConnell thinks about soring? http://www.eagleridge-twh.com/soredhorses.htm

Pony Girl said...

That is just TOO bizarre. I couldn't even watch the whole thing, it made me sad.

I do think I've heard the head bobbing is normal and the more bob, the more action, the better?

I guess I don't understand why those horseman find that kind of riding interesting. Then again, I'm sure they can't understand why I want to learn to rope or cut a cow, either.

But that doesn't excuse inappropriate or cruel techniques on these horses.

cdncowgirl said...

I couldn't watch the whole thing. I did notice however how the the horses looked like they were walking on eggshells as they came in the gate. :(

May the people who do this find their own special place in hell.

Rocky Mountain Yankee said...

About ten years ago when my Paint mare was in training there was also a TWH that was at the barn to be trained. This trainer was all natural, no gimmicks or anything like that, she was wonderful. Anyways, she let me ride the TWH one day and I fell in love. I wanted one for years and seriously started looking at them when I was thinking about getting another horse. I couldn't get past the abuse that most of them have to endure though and ended purchasing an Appaloosa. Not to say that the stock horse breeds don't have some questionable stuff going on from time to time but the blatant abuse of the Walkers totally turned me off. I hope in the future that people will come to their senses and stop the awful treatment of these wonderful horses but I'm not holding my breath on that one.

sue said...

I just don't see any "beauty" in that... I really dont know much about the "gaited group"... but, I just can't believe that any horse would find those gaits.. "natural"..I couldn't wait the whole video either....

ezra_pandora said...

And do you notice the music? I wonder if playing the happy merry-go-round music is supposed to be some sort of mind trick as a distraction. It irritates me though.

Molly said...

I couldn't watch much. You are right to point this out to this world of horse people. We've had rants on horse racing but this looks less natural and more cruel to the horses.

Years ago I argued with a gaited horse trainer that jumping a horse was surely more natural to the animal than any day in the life of his beautiful horses.

Flying Lily said...

GreyHorse: that head bob is accentuated with bitting and training; it is a desired trait. A normal TWH does have a 'nod' but it is far more subtle. I agree with you about this senator and I hope his good-old-boy network is not adequate to keep him in office.

Ezra; If you remember the name of that girl I'd love to learn more about her. that took guts.

NuzzlingMuzzles: spiders indeed. Prior to seeing this video I had only seen still photos and they do not convey the true...strangeness of this movement, nor the crowd's delight.

HalfPass: McConnell wants TWH trainers to be free to do 'whatever it takes'. Which above all includes soring, the most controversial and widespread practice in this weird alternate universe.

Flying Lily said...

PonyGirl: Some of that nod is natural and some is exaggerated in competition training. These were 4 year olds in the video...

CdnCowgirl: Yes I saw that too, those steps...don't you wonder how long these horses can hold up? All I see in my internet research are young horses.

RockyMountain: I know just what you mean. I have always worried about thoroughbred racing but this makes that look plain natural and organic!

Sue: I couldn't watch the whole thing either. I got to the 'canter' part and almost fainted.

EzraPandora: My husband ( I made him take a look at this video) said it sounded like circus music and was so incongruous with the tormented looking gait. It does paint a jolly background, which adds to the strangeness.

Molly: I agree about racing; it's comparatively natural isn't it? And it always bugged me somewhat before; Montana is a retired racehorse and I take pride and angst in that, equal parts.

3pennyjane said...

I think that this is the story that ezra_pandora was talking about. The write-up is a bit of a slog, but it does lay out the attempted obstruction of the team's participation. (There's also a nasty racial angle that was brought up at one point; evidently it's not enough to be unpleasant just to horses.)
Giving credit where it's due, I came across the link through another page, from a stable that sells Walkers and is rabidly anti-soring. EastWind Stables, with whom I have no connection beyond having cast a few yearning glances at their sale roster, have posted advice on gaited breeds and a few helpful essays, as well as photos of their for-sale and already-sold horses. If you're in the Pacific Northwest and in the market for a gaited horse, it looks like they're a decent place to check out.

ezra_pandora said...

Ok, I did some looking and the horse's name was Champagne Watchout and the owners were the Jacksons. The horse was what they call flat shot. If you look up the horse's name and the Jacksons, you will probably be able to find some of the bigger articles. If I find the exact one that I had seen before, I'll comment again with the link :))

ezra_pandora said...

Sorry, me again. Here's one of the articles I think. It gives definitions and more events surrounding this family and their horse.

http://www.walkinonranch.com/1999Celebration.html

Jocelyn said...

I hate the whole TWH industry. They do nothing to spare the pain and abuse these horses endure. My hubby wants a TWH someday, they sure are fun to ride and their kind nature is a big bonus.

Jenn said...

Not only is it painful to watch those horses move, the riders look like they are clinging on for dear life while trying to avoid getting smacked in the face by those high-bobbing heads.

Why must humans always interfere with what's natural? We don't make it better...we make it ugly and unnatural.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I've ridden naturally gaited Tennessee Walkers and they are smooooooth! They do head bob more than most horses though. I've also ridden a TW with padded feet but this was many years ago and he was not as artificial as the ones being shown nowadays. He did have higher front leg action from the over long feet though.

I think the show horses nowadays look silly. You can't even ride them out of an arena. Walkers are great trail horses because they can cover great distances without making the rider uncomfortable.