Horse Show Concludes

Walk Time Charlie... Photo from Shelbyville Times-Gazette

Accusations of horse abuse at the Walking Horse Celebration grew louder on Friday as federal inspectors disqualified more horses. The Humane Society of the United States called the event a conspiracy and a cover-up. This has been the most contentious celebration in years partly because insiders in Shelbyville sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the way it inspects horses. The USDA has the final say in inspections. This year it disqualified dozens of horses. In response Friday morning, the industry defended itself. “Reform in this industry, it is serious. There are serious people doing serious things,” said Jeff Howard with the Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization. The Humane Society said it firmly believes the majority of high-stepping horses suffer from some sort of abuse. “That is an unnatural, illegally-induced gait. Horses don’t walk that way”. But the Horse Protection Act, the law guiding the industry, disagrees with that statement. They contend that the horse’s distinctive walk they may be achieved through patient, careful training. Some owners promise that kind of training helped their horses. The Humane Society wants the government to revise the Horse Protection Act to give inspectors access to the training process. That could be the one thing to which both sides can agree. On Saturday night “Walk Time Charlie” was named World Grand Champion horse at the 74th Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville.