In an effort to bring soring into the light, the HSUS has stepped up its fight to stop this brutal practice. By “into the light,” I mean informing people that this awful practice really happens, and they should talk about it and act. No more whispers, no more silent shudders, no more changing the subject to something innocuous: all reactions I’ve received since I’ve tried to open up a dialogue about soring.
The work that HSUS does to benefit horses is ongoing, of course, but this year, the group has done two things that I feel were extraordinarily effective in educating the public. First, it made a hidden-camera, undercover video of trainer Jackie McConnell beating and soring a horse. This brought out the face of those who sore and showed what is actually done to the horse. The resulting video was shown on prime-time news and elsewhere, including of course, YouTube. (You can see it at this site in the May 12, 2012 post.) McConnell is due to be sentenced today.
HSUS also put up a billboard near the Celebration grounds advertising a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone who breaks the law (including both the federal Horse Protection Act and any state laws that prohibit soring.) The Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization (TWSHO) has demanded that any tips collected from the billboard be given to them as well as HSUS so they can report them to authorities. Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of HSUS, responds that while HPA has existed for forty years, it is only in the past eighteen months that cases have been criminally prosecuted. He said that HSUS will act on all tips that come in, whether they’re from the tip line or other sources. He added that “industry leaders should adopt our same zero-tolerance approach to illegal soring, and stop covering up the criminal behavior that has been so corrosive in this industry.” You can see why those opposed to soring might be skeptical about the TWSHO’s statement that they want to report the tips too. The industry as a whole is guilty of covering up this crime for at least forty years. And some of the trainers and judges at the Celebration have prior soring violatons.
For much more go to http://www.tennessean.com/section/projects36.