To the editor:
It may be an act of blasphemy, but I would like to admit that I have absolutely no interest in walking horses, or the Celebration. I grew up riding horses in the fields and woods of Antioch, and grew to love them. But the artificial, stilted, walking horse gait that is so popular around here does not interest me at all; it is unnatural, and is something that has to be trained into a horse's mind. I would as soon watch the Energizer Bunny go around a ring than to watch a walking horse.
That being said, I also realize the tremendous economic impact the Celebration has on Shelbyville. There are many businesses that depend on the Walking Horse Industry, and many people rely on it for their jobs and livelihoods. But I am not convinced that the walking horse gait, the "Big Lick," can be suitably trained into a horse without resorting to painful, inhumane, and illegal methods. A few years ago it was reported that, according to independent veterinarians and government investigators, incidents of soring rose over 200 percent in the two weeks leading up to the Celebration.
I hope the Celebration thrives, and Walking Horse trainers will always use humane, gentle methods. But if the only way they can achieve the "Big Lick" is by soring and other abusive methods, the Celebration should be closed down, even if Shelbyville dries up and blows away.
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