Walking Horse Association to vote for new committee - WSMV News 4

Walking Horse Association to vote for new committee

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The Tennessee Walking Horse Association has a big vote this weekend, and many animal rights organizations will be watching it closely.

It all comes after more than a year of controversy about so-called "soring" methods to make the animals step higher, but some say the group that governs the walking horse industry isn't ready to change.

Sixty-nine people worldwide will vote on a new 14-member executive committee, which will formulate policies and penalties against soring.

Critics of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association say the organization has not done enough to stop soring, and the only answer is a new board full of reform-minded walking horse owners.

But TWHBEA leaders said that is not necessarily true and not fair. Outgoing president Marty Irby said in a letter he wrote to his membership that some view walking horse exhibitors "in the same category as Michael Vick," the NFL quarterback who served nearly two years in federal prison for his role in a dog fighting operation.

"The problem lies within people who are willing to cheat and abuse a horse to make him mimic or imitate a truly great and natural show horse," Irby wrote.

Animal protection organizations are expected to turn out in full force for the vote Saturday in Marshall County.

Irby said the organization will go to any length, even if it means removing horses' shoes, to show the world that soring is unacceptable.

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