The Celebration is the “Super Bowl” of Tennessee Walker horse shows; it is held annually in Shelbyville and creates a huge profit for local vendors, businesses, and companies in the town of less than 25,000. But those showing in the Celebration this year, according to an international animal welfare organization, have a history of abusing horses.
The Humane Society of the United States has listed horses, owners, and riders for the 2013 Celebration that have a history of HPA citations. The HPA, or “The Horse Protection Act,” is “a Federal law that prohibits horses subjected to a practice called soring from participating in shows, sales, exhibitions, or auctions. The HPA also prohibits drivers from transporting sored horses to or from any of these events.” Soring is the “practice used to accentuate a horse’s gait …accomplished by irritating or blistering a horse’s forelegs through the application of chemicals … or the use of mechanical devices” (source).
According to the Humane Society, the following have received past citations:
Horses: Siege, I’m Deuce, The Metalist, Moody Star and Honors have been the subject of HPA citations in the past. Moody Star is of particular interest as the horse was documented as sored in an undercover investigation of former Hall of Fame walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell, the horse’s trainer at the time. McConnell was caught on video abusing horses.*
The owners of all the horses entered into the stake classes all have at least one citation, with a combined total of 44 citations among them. These owners include Dr. Jack & Wilsene Moody Kwok, Kay & Jim Green, Fred Allred, Judy & Ron Jones, Karen Bean, Glendon Stivers, Billy Max/Deborah Woods, Gloria Warr/Rhonda Major, Virginia Stewart/Evergreen Walking Horse Farm, Luckey Easterling, Lee/Mike McGartland, Molly Walters, Keith/Dan McSwain, and Rhonda Stewart/Stewart’s Nursery & Farms.
Of the 12 riders who will show these horses in the qualifying class, all have received citations for violating the Horse Protection Act, with a combined total of 187 violations. Nine are ranked in the Riders Cup awards, including Charlie Green, Jimmy McConnell, Casey Wright, Herbert Derickson, Scott Beatty, Bobby Hugh, Dick Peebles, Larry Edwards and Bill Cantrell. Others cited but not ranked in Riders Cup include Chad Williams, Charlie Witherspoon, and Danny Hughes. Charlie Green, the winner of the 2012 Riders Cup award, who won more than $15,000 for his horse show activities, has a rap sheet of 47 citations for soring and related issues, and is in second place to secure the Riders Cup recognition again this year. Larry Edwards, the rider of the horse believed to be the favorite to claim the top honors in the stake class has a history of 18 recent citations for HPA violations. For a list of persons and horses cited and/or suspended, click HERE.
The Humane Society is offering a reward for up to $10,000 to anyone providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of a violator of the HPA or any state law prohibiting horse soring. The nonprofit organization will have billboards in the Shelbyville area advertising the reward information during The Celebration. For information on this reward, click HERE.
With this history of abuse, and the abusers being allowed to show, ride, and compete, some are calling The Celebration the “Sore-ebration.”
*See what McConnell and his “trainers” did to horses: HERE
The 2013 Celebration will be held Aug. 21-31, 2013. For information call 931-684-5915.