What’s wrong with those people!

Y’all remember our post about the Tennessee Walking Horse’s and the unfortunate 110% evil soring practices that they’ve been made to endure over the years (click here)?

Well, looks like some justice is coming to a few “trainers” who feel soring is a viable option in lieu of proper care and – what’s that word? oh yeah. TRAINING.  According to an article posted on on October 19, Paul Blackburn “has pleaded guilty to federal charges that he conspired to violate the Horse Protection Act (HPA) by soring horses”.  To read the full article, click here.

We say some justice because Blackburn “faces penalties of up to one year in prison and a $3,000 fine”.

Our first reaction was a little more colorful than WTF but you get the idea.   Reading the article a little more closely, it says that Blackburn plead guilty to conspiring to sore horses – it does not actually state that he participated in this heinous act.  Now, this could be something that has been plead down behind the scenes (everyone’s seen those law shows on TV – how many have there been?! -Night Court doesn’t count) to ensure the guilty plea – better to get some justice rather than risk getting nothing seems to be a common mentality these days.

Found a few more articles on the subject – they don’t really include more information on the situation, unless you want to read the court documents…

“4th person charged with soring horses” article from the Shelbyville Times-Gazette

“Soring suspect pleads guilty” more recent article from the Shelbyville Times-Gazette

“News and Articles…” post on For the Tennessee Walking Horse blog

If you read FTWH’s post from back in March about this case, she lists the indictments against the three others charged with Blackburn (but does not specifically name Blackburn) and one of the charges specifically states that a bolt was placed in a horses foot.

Here’s a quote from our original post on TWH’s and soring

“If you’re wondering why she’s being encouraged to move like an epileptic German Shepard, it’s because that’s what wins in the show ring.  Don’t believe us?  Here’s the victory lap of the 2010 TWHNC World Grand Champion…”

Sure we can keep prosecuting the bastards that think it’s ok to maim and torture horses so that they win a few bucks – and we should!  But shouldn’t we also go after the progenitors of the big lick movement?  Namely, the judges.  The people who determine day in and day out that what is genetic disease in dogs is a desired (yet utterly pointless) movement in horses.

Sometimes, instead of yelling and screaming, you just gotta shake your head and say What the Fraggle Rock? (and delight in the pleasure of knowing that Karma is a bitch).


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Posted on October 25, 2011, in Misc Horsies and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Not gonna read all th articles because I’d just get more pissed off about these people (and i use the term people loosely) getting away with torturing an maiming animals with a slap on the wrist. Still, I agree that some justice is better than no justice and if animal lovers keep pushing for harsher sentences, then we might just be able to influence the court’s decisions.

    I’m with you for going after he judges, if they didn’t let the so-called trainers and riders aka animals abusers win the ribbons and the big bucks, the animals wouldn’t be suffering in the first place. Well, not the vast majority of the horses, anyway.

  2. The judges in every discipline are largely to blame for the inhumane “training” practices being used today. The rollkur in dressage, Quarter Horses moving at painfully slow paces, hunters dragging their feet with their heads to their knees, jumpers without personality…Unfortunately, there’s already no money in the horse business, and even less when you can’t win. It is inexcusable, but people have been forced to adapt in order to support their horses and livelihood. And it’s rare to find a trainer that is humane, traditional, and can win. I was blessed with several of those in my life, but they were one among many unconventional and abusive trainers at shows (our horses were always the happiest though!)

    Sadly, these trends will continue until judging begins to look at utility and horsemanship instead of these fads. They say it’s the way the discipline as evolved. But that’s not true. The disciplines have, in many ways, devolved.

    Then there’s the argument that if trainers/riders stopped using these practices, true beauty and talent will win over these gimmicks. But that requires everyone to be on the same page. There will always be some selfish bastard, so that will never happen. So it comes back to the judges. Vicious cycle–and it’s going to take cooperation of the entire equine community worldwide to see change in these disciplines, a change that seeks the comfort and well-being of the horse above all else and that shows off the utility and talent of the horse in the job it was meant and bred to do.

    • ugh rollkur is an embarrassment to the dressage world if you ask me (DE).

      Well put though – I see your point about people adapting. It’s almost like things started going downhill and then just picked up too much momentum to stop and it landed us where we are today.

      • That momentum is what I saw in the 10 or so years I was competing. I know it’s hard to regulate training practices on private property, but public show facilities CAN set those rules. There was an incident a while back at a show I was at where a trainer was sticking tacks to the jump poles in the warm up ring (which also took jumps away from others of us who were trying to get ourselves and horses ready to go). And this horse was terrified and clearly didn’t have the ability to clear the jumps at the height they were set at. The kid riding him was flopping all over the place too. The ring steward came out there and told him to stop and get off the property, that he was no longer welcome at their shows. This guy was a pretty well-known trainer, and he and his clients were out of there pretty quickly.

        There is no reason that show facilities can’t and shouldn’t set these kinds of rules. Too many facilities and individuals are too quick to look the other way though. I understand they might be concerned with lowered attendance, but I don’t think that’s too likely. The momentum will roll the other way: if trainers want to stay in business and continue showing, they’ll need to re-evaluate their training methods and stop going for the quick, cheap solution. Hundreds of trainers find success playing the patient game, and they end up with happy horses and clients in the process.

        • Seriously? They were sticking tacks to jumps that were being used by other people? That is just… I mean, all I can think is that this person thought it was somehow okay to “train” a horse like that to be doing it in public. What kind of person thinks that? I mean, at the very least, if the guy doesn’t care about the horse, that’s a HUGE safety issue for the rider. I’ve just got images of some kid faceplanting into those jumps and losing an eye to one of those tacks because the horse (understandably) refused. Where the hell are the parents while this is happening? I mean, god, years ago when I was still a beginner and my parents still stayed for my lessons, my dad noticed ONE small nail sticking out of a board and made me stop riding until he fixed it (I was the first one tacked up and was warming up on my own in the arena).

  3. It is so damn sad what they do to these horses. I think you’re on the right track about blaming the judges but I think it’s important to remember that if they are like other organizations (AQHA for instance) then the judges are trainers themselves- meaning they can award their own training results or the closest facsimile to it. It all comes back to the trainers which comes back to the owners. If people would stop giving money to these a-holes to torture their horses it wouldn’t happen anymore. If people stopped going to these shows and paying admission fees they couldn’t do it anymore.

    • Good point about the judges also being trainers. I was going to say something about making judging and training mutually exclusive, but then who would be qualified to judge? I wonder if it would be feasible to offer specific training courses to educate prospective judges who aren’t trainers. They’d obviously have to be riders and have a certain level of knowledge, but what about offering something like a judges university? or some similar idea… might eliminate the problems with mixed loyalties.

      • “I was going to say something about making judging and training mutually exclusive, but then who would be qualified to judge?”

        I don’t see why it isn’t feasible, in plenty of other sports judges are not allowed to be trainers for very good reasons. Take football (or soccer if you’re american) for example. Can you imagine what would happen if referees were allowed to be trainers as well? (of course referees can still be bribed but that’s a whole ‘nother story)

  4. I have to say I agree. Although I hate the bastards that skip the training and go for the torture, and there does need to be justice done against them, they aren’t the source of the problem – it’s the judges, and the discipline standards (for ANY discipline). We wouldn’t have things like soring, rollkur, and peanut rolling if the judges stopped giving such damn high marks for the results that you get from them. Even though they aren’t the ones physically hurting the horses, for a long time, I’ve held the judges responsible for the practices – they hold a hell of a lot of power in their hands by determining what “perfection” is. All they have to do is stop giving high marks to the big licks, the chins tucked into chests, and the noses brushing the ground, and guess what? The majority of people doing those things would stop. It’s not that difficult. They caused the mess, they can damn well clean it up too.

    • You also have to wonder at a persons mentality when they think it’s ok to sacrifice the horse in order to win. This has been a gradual decline in the industry – an industry that used to be quite prosperous financially. How did it all fall apart? Maybe it’s a bit of a chicken and egg question. Which came first? The bad trainer showing the judge artificial movement borne of the soring practices? or the judge calling for the epileptic German Shepard movement and the trainers desperately seeking a way to give them what they want?

      • Judging by some anecdotes I’ve heard about the origins of some of these “training” practices, I suspect that it was the bad trainers who came first and were then rewarded for the exaggerated movements (probably without the judges knowing the origins) and it gradually got more and more exaggerated until you see what we’ve got today. But the judges have the power to stop that kind of crap in its tracks by setting an upward limit rather than just a lower one, which is what they seem to be doing. By saying “here’s the point of perfection, anything below OR ABOVE will lose marks” instead of “here’s the point of perfection, anything below will lose marks” (which seems to be the case for some judges at least), they could probably eliminate at least the more severe forms of soring and such (though I’m sure there will still be some people who do it because the horse isn’t reaching that “perfection” point).

  5. (oh gawd I hope my responses made sense, I sooo tired!) G’night!

  1. Pingback: Blackburn. TWH. Zero-tolerance. *cough*bullshit*cough*

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