Dear Friends and Readers,
I’m delighted to tell you that Connie Holt is at it again. This time her case is about a lost walking horse that has been brutally treated and is found wandering in a pasture. She vows to discover the truth behind this state and federal crime and bring the criminals to justice. But there are complications. She’s been working with a new hire at the McCutcheon Equine Insurance Agency, a young man with crippling PTSD. And a high school student enters the scene with important information but with him comes the issue of child abuse.
Here’s an excerpt from the Prologue depicting the veteran in the throes of his illness, which starts the whole adventure of Cross of Gold Road going:
He woke in the dark, jerked abruptly from the familiar dream he’d been having. The bed—sheets, pillows, blanket—was soaked with sweat. When he tried to sit up, he found himself entangled in the twisted sheets, trapping him as if they were the arms of the faceless enemy. As always, he remembered parts of the dream: he was back In Afghanistan, on patrol, so afraid of IEDs that he looked at almost every inch of the ground he would have to step on for fear of what might be buried underneath the surface. He was speaking quietly to his buddy Mack, lips hardly moving, hissing “Woman coming, watch out.” An enemy wearing the all-concealing burqa could be a man or woman. The dream always stopped at this point, when the enemy detonated the explosive, blowing up himself or herself, along with Mack and him.
You can get my novel at Amazon where it’s available in paperback or Kindle formats. But if you would like an autographed copy, write me a note at Contact Me Above and I’ll write you back letting you know how to get it.
I’d like to thank you all for your enthusiasm and interest in the Connie Holt series.
The best to everyone!
On Friday morning July 18, 2014, I looked out the back window of my kitchen and saw a youthful version of this fellow above lying on my deck. I had had an impression of a leaping body prior to my eyes focusing in on this bobcat, and at first I had thought there was a new cat in town. But looking closely, I realized that this was not like my cat, but indeed had a rather evil cat face and was built differently from my fat comfortable fellow of nineteen pounds. This cat was heavier and larger, more of a blocky shape than my round shaped house pet. When I cautiously raised the blind a little bit to see him better, he leaped into the dirt around the bushes that surround the deck but seeing no more movement, he leaped back on the deck again. Eventually he disappeared once more and never returned. My neighbors and I speculated about him, laying his appearance to the massive construction work in back of us and the subsequent changing of his usual stalking routes, and also the fact that our land is heavily populated by bunnies. Later I went to the internet and learned that indeed bobcats had been seen where I live. I warned my neighbor next door of the bobcat.She has a tiny little dog who runs all over, but she was undismayed.
Last March 5 was a crucial date for all us trying to get rid of soring once and for all. The Senate Commerce Committee was scheduled to consider the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (S. 1406). If approved, the act would have gone to the Senate for consideration where fifty senators have co-sponsored Kelly Ayotte’s bill. No resumption date has been posted.
Marsha Blackburn represents the notorious area of Tennessee in which many sorers ply their trade. (Although this is a side issue, Tennessee is well-known as a state where soring takes place. TN is known for many things, beautiful scenery, friendly people, fine whiskey. But torturing horses should not be one of the state’s claims to fame. Sometimes I feel that Tennesseans don’t realize the state’s bad reputation in the universal horse world.) On the basis of Blackburn’s voting record, one can see that she will never come out in favor of strong measures to wipe out the immoral and cruel practice of soring. Faced with the possibility of losing voters, even if they sore horses, she has come up with a bill opposing S. 1406 (HR 4098.) Please read the short summary of each bill below and make up your mind who is on the side of the suffering horses.
First, the PAST bill, sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky. It has the backing of many animal protection advocates.
1. Amends the Horse Protection Act which with all its good intentions, has proved weak.
2. Ends the industry system of self-policing, which has proved unsuccessful and sometimes dishonest.
3. Provides for stronger penalties for what amounts to torturing horses.
4. Bans the devices used for soring.
5. Makes soring for selling or showing a horse illegal.
Now the Blackburn bill.
1. Would use science based protocols, producing scientifically reliable, reproducible results.
2. Would create a single independent inspection HIO (Horse Industry Organization) managed by industry participants.
3. Would create an Independent Board appointed by heads of State Agriculture agencies from Kentucky and Tennessee which would have the power to appoint extra independent members. This independent board would only license conflict-free and qualified inspectors.
Those who follow and understand the horrible details of what horses endure and the rotten politics of soring can see the Blackburn bill for what it is: a poorly written piece of legislation which analyzed, amounts to an attempt to preserve the dismal status quo. We already have science based protocols. .A single inspection organization with too much power to appoint members only makes the current situation worse. Just ask Friends of Sound Horses or the Humane Society for the facts about the many “upstanding citizens” of the horse community who have been found guilty of soring and come back year after year to show their poor, tortured horses. Too many of these people have even been honored by their peers. Wayne Pacelle writes that a single HIO is “essentially giving the industry ‘bad apples’ the opportunity to set the rules and manage all inspections, while eliminating those HIOs that actually insist on no soring at shows they oversee now.” He says that in Kentucky and Tennessee the enforcement of state laws is rare and soring is tolerated by some officials. And where in the Blackburn proposal does it speak about outlawing the instruments of soring? Pacelle points out more weaknesses. (www.humanesociety.org)
What can be done about this? A call or e-mail to your representatives would let them know where you stand on this issue. Put the issue in your blog and work in other social media. And Tennesseans might reconsider who to vote for in the future. By the way, Rand Paul is considering whether to support the Blackburn bill as a co-sponsor.
Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH) will hold its 2014 conference in Brentwood, Tennessee. There will be panels and presentations, four of which will be “Making a Good Living with Walking Horses 2014 and Beyond;” “The Future of Walking Horse Competitions;” “Pressure Soring: The Current Ugly Methods;” and “USDA’s Enforcement Role.” For details about the conference and the location (to be announced), keep watch of the FOSH site at http://www.fosh.info.
This act, also known as HR 1518, was introduced by bipartisan sponsors to make the Horse Protection Act of 1970 stronger. The bill is endorsed by powerful pro-horse groups of horse advocates and veterinary associations. It is only realistic to say that the HPA is largely a failure and toothless besides. As the Humane Association says, “unscrupulous trainers spend their efforts devising a gruesome array of techniques to make it painful for these gentle creatures to take even a step, so they will lift their front legs extremely high in the unnatural gait known as ‘the Big Lick,’ rewarded by judges at some of this industry’s horse competitions.” Whether this bill will ever pass seems doubtful. But it needs your support. Please call your representatives and urge that they support the bill. For more on this, please see http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press releases/2013/04/PAST-Act-2013-041213.html#.UxNzc2eYbmE.