December, 2010: Letter to New TWHBEA President Mr. Irby from Linda Goodwin, NC
I understand that you are the new TWHBEA President, and I wanted to take this opportunity to send you an appeal on behalf of this wonderful breed. I am the owner of a TWH, a Black Rain son actually, who, along with my Arabian mare, is my pride and joy. Chance is TWHBEA registered, and I purchased him in 2005 from a friend who used to show him locally. Let me be quick to say that he was NEVER shown in pads or chains, nor was he ever sored. His former owner educated me on the barbaric practice used by so many of your members, and following my education, I immediately dropped my TWHBEA membership in late 2005. I went over to the NWHA and the NC Plantation Pleasure Walking Horse Association for a little piece of mind.
The TWH's image has been sored, padded, chained and stewarded to the ugliest of points. I'm left to defend myself very quickly each time I mention that I'm the owner of a TWH. "I don't show, and if I did it would not be in pad or chains. My horse is not sored and is in fact flat shod." I'm extremely proud to say that my TWH has never known the pads, chains, soring and stewarding that his poor father, an absolutely beautiful creature, knew. As you may know, Black Rain died at the tender age of 13 from colic. I've done my homework, and I know that Black Rain's trainer and owners were very prominent in the "Big Lick" culture. I have my suspicions that Black Rain died of colic brought on by the abuse he suffered at the hands of his trainer and owners. I have a dear friend who lost her TWH (her trail horse) this year to colic. He colicked many times during the years she had him. The horse's previous owner showed him as Big Lick horse. After his death, his owner told me that this horse never trusted anyone but her, he was skittish, always wound tight, and she knew he had been sored and abused. However, I'm told that there's no correlation between colic in a Big Lick horse and his/her abuse.
I am a card-carrying member of HSUS, ASPCA and FOSH, three of the four entities who petitioned the USDA for new, more stringent rules in August 2010. I have monitored some of the TWH forums around, and I believe that it's safe to say that your membership's backs appear to be against the wall, what with so many individuals and entities taking aim at the walking horse industry these days. I believe the tide is turning. You mention the "dawn of a new day" in your letter to members, and I hope that you are sincere. You have the opportunity to bring about change in an industry that has wallowed in despicable abuse for decades. Children and grandchildren are taught these barbaric methods, and the horrible, vicious cycle continues, year in and year out. By adopting a zero tolerance policy (in both word and deed) for soring and abuse, you can start the ball rolling with regard to bringing the TWHBEA into a modern age where abuse of a horses, like old-time back-room southern politics, is looked upon as both criminal and tawdry. Perhaps the TWHBEA could be the first of the big breed organizations to insist upon change, and perhaps the other industry organizations will follow.
I would like to see the day that pads, chains and chemicals are a thing of the awful past, and we can talk about our walking horses as the beautiful creatures they are; when going to a walking horse show (something that I can no longer do either locally or nationally) finds us admiring these gorgeous horses with their wonderful, natural gaits; and when the money and ribbons go to the breeders, owners and riders for just that.
You have the opportunity …. I hope that you will not let it slip away.