ICYMI Big Lick is dead. The USDA issued a press release on Friday, Jan 13th stating that as of January 1 2018, it is illegal to show, sell, transport, or exhibit a Tennessee Walking Horse or Racking Horse wearing stacks, pads, wedges, or chains. (FAQ: Yes, the two breeds mentioned are the only two affected.) Chains and other “action devices” will be illegal on February 13th of this year. The year-long period for the stacks is there (as a formality) to allow a transitional period for the horse. Moving a horse that has worn stacks for years to barefoot/flat shod in a day can absolutely cause big problems and a transitional period is necessary, but the problem is that there are no rules telling trainers when to start transitioning. There are no “check points” to make sure the transition is done. The only rule is that the stacks must be off by next January. Monitoring an entire group of people like this is pretty much impossible, I get that, I don’t have a better solution than what’s in place right now. But that just means we should expect trainers to continue showing as they were until the very moment they can’t anymore. And when they can’t anymore, we should expect auctions in Kentucky and Tennessee to become flooded with ex-lickers.
Lots of talk around Tumblr about the slaughter situation. Rightfully so, it’s scary to think about on such a big scale. The Big Lick trainers trying to fight this decision are using this to their “advantage”??? The actual argument is that because Big Lick is now illegal, the horses are going to die because they’re no longer useful and the trainers will have to sell them quickly. And the statement is true! I really expect it to be. What is so ASININE about this is that the Big Lick trainers are literally saying they’re going to send their own horses to auction and it’s OUR FAULT for making their bullshit illegal. Laughing my fuckin ass off, my dude. These guys have lost their marbles in all the confusion and can’t even paint their stories in the right light anymore.
Anyway, yes. Horses are going to be sent to auction because of this decision, in greater numbers than what has already been going on. Big Lick trainers are not interested in showing under normal classes. If they were, they’d be doing it already. That’s not where the money is, and those judges and inspectors are waaaaay harder to bribe. The USDA is on the same page as me. There are eyes on the major auctions in Kentucky and Tennessee, and I know that rescue operations are already being built although the details are still unknown (this has only been news since yesterday).
However, when lots of horses are being sent to auction, and they’re getting publicity, there are going to be lots of people who want to adopt. A lot of people want to save a Big Lick horse, and I love it! I love seeing support for the Tennessee Walking Horse because they are a fantastic animal but if you truly are looking to adopt an ex-licker, do not go at it alone. You have likely never encountered a horse quite like this one. He’s not an OTTB, he’s not a typical rescue. He has seen some shit. I can make another post about what to expect from your Big Lick rescue if there is interest but if I go into it on this post, it’ll never end.
On a lighter note! Making stacks illegal is not all that we accomplished. Previously, per the HPA, Tennessee Walking Horse shows were required to have DQP (designated qualified persons) on site to inspect the horses for soring evidence before and after each class. As I mentioned before, the DQPs for Celebration and other Big Lick arenas were easily bought off, I myself have seen a video of a DQP passing a horse with clear scarring on its pastern from soring. There was no set criteria for training DQPs or qualifications. The system failed quickly. NOW we are doing away with DQP. DQP licenses will remain in effect until January 2018. After that, the inspection process is going to be revolutionized with new inspectors called HPIs (Horse Protection Inspectors) licensed and trained by APHIS. Not only have the horses been saved but the industry is being turned on its head and I*love*it.