Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization (TWSHO) Thursday issued the following statement from communications director Jeffrey Howard in response to proposed legislation to amend the Horse Protection Act (HPA):
"TWSHO is in strong agreement that reform is needed in the industry and we will work with anyone who truly wants reform.
"The attacks from Congressman Whitfield are expected as his wife is the Vice President of Legislative Affairs for the Humane Society of the United States, an organization that stands to gain financially for going after the walking horse industry.
"It is shameful that elected officials would attack an industry that means so much to small communities across the country, all for political gain. Have they ever talked to anyone who rides a walking horse, to anyone who lives in the communities to which this animal and the sport means something? It is even more shameful that they would use the words of a convicted felon, someone with an axe to grind with the very inspectors -- the inspectors at The Celebration -- who ousted him from the business for his deplorable and inexplicable acts.
"HSUS continues to attack the entire industry for the bad actions of a few, which is the political thing to do. But if they were interested in reform, they would attack the bad actors and support the reforms that are working to rid the system of soring trainers. They don't care about the people whose lives they affect on their path to tear down an industry to promote their own organization.
"The SHOW HIO has the toughest inspections and harshest penalties in the business, even stricter than the USDA. If the HSUS cared about walking horses as much as SHOW HIO does, they would not have watched and supported the animal abuse they witnessed for 11 months, all so they could create a video to generate more press attention and raise more money."
According to the release, SHOW is one of the Horse Industry Organizations that manages walking horse shows. Since its inception three years ago, it has instituted aggressive reforms to rid the system of soring trainers and protect the horse.
SHOW horses have achieved a 98.5% compliance rate with the Horse Protection Act and SHOW will not stop reforming the way it does business until it reaches 100% compliance, the release continuted, which includes fighting against government rules that will hinder the organization's effort to do so.
According to its press release, Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization (TWSHO) was created by a group of concerned individuals committed to reforming the walking show horse industry to protect the well-being of walking horses, while maintaining the integrity of the sport.
The vast majority of owners and trainers love walking horses and put their wellbeing above all else. For far too long, the industry has not followed through on its talk of reform with real action.
"We understand that, if we don't rid the industry of its few soring trainers, there will be no industry in the near future," the release states. "Already we have made major strides to reform the system, including creating the most aggressive inspection system in the business and instituting serious punishments for those who break the rules. And we will not be satisfied until the entire industry is fully compliant with all federal regulations and truly consistent with our love for horses."