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Looking In Tennessean's BackyardPosted Thursday, May 31, 2012, at 3:40 PM
I'll be the first to admit I very little about Tennessee walking horses.
But even I can comprehend there has been and continues to be abuse to the horses by some trainers to win. I'm against any and all forms of animal abuse. It should and must be stopped.
I can't just sit by and read in The Tennessean day after day an obviously orchestated attack on the walking horse industry in general, the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in particular and a few shots at Shelbyville now and then without asking some questions.
Can all such abuse be stopped? Probably not. Many people with good intentions within the industry are working hard to drastically lower the amount of abuse to the horses and figures indicate some major changes are taking place to weed out rogue trainers who will cheat to win.
Yes, Shelbyville is the home of the TWHNC.
And yes, Nashville is the home of the Nashville Steeplechase each May. The highlight of that one-day event is the Iroquois Steeplechase, the final event of the day.
The Tennessean accurately reported earlier this month the winner of the Iroquois died shortly after crossing the finish line...and also accurately reported it was the first death of a horse in the Nashville event in seven or eight years and there had been five deaths in the past 19 years.
Is running a horse to its death a form of abuse? Is an animal that suffers fatal injuries while being forced to leap over barricades of different types a form of abuse?
How many horses...and riders have been injured?
The easy answer is to say a walking horse show and steeplechase event are two different things entirely.
But, is abusing horses still abusing horses regardless of what we choose to call it?
Should the Tennessean take a look in its own backyard when it gets through slamming us?
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Bo Melson is a retired sports and police beat editor of the Times-Gazette.