Animal advocates protest outside walking horse competition - WSMV News 4

Animal advocates protest outside walking horse competition

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SHELBYVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Critics said behind the beauty of the walking horses on display at The Celebration in Shelbyville is a practice that is harmful to the animals.

The Celebration, one of the world’s premier horse shows, is in its 77th year, but the 11-day event opened this week with protesters outside the gates.

Animal rights advocates have stepped up their message during Celebration week. Tuesday, a horse rescue group displayed a registered walking horse named Gen’s Ice Glimmer.

Glimmer was a show horse who ended up at auction on July 19, perhaps destined for a slaughterhouse. Members of one rescue group said it’s a common destiny for horses that can no longer pass inspection because of scars left by their trainer.

“What I’m seeing is a horse that’s scarred,” said Dr. Tom James, a former inspector. “It’s visible right here.”

James is a retired veterinarian and USDA inspector for horse shows.

“This is a horse, like all the other horses out there,” said Tawnee Preisner with the Horse Plus rescue group. “Happens all the time.”

But leaders in the walking horse industry dispute that cruel training methods are common.

“It’s a fallacy,” said Mike Inman, CEO of The Celebration.

Inman said the industry doesn’t want horses at competitions if their trainers have sored them.

“We want nobody disqualified, which is why we’re pushing so hard for objective, science-based testing,” Inman said.

Inman said the testing would include blood tests and digital x-rays rather than the subjective opinions of the inspectors who test the horses before the competition.

“Science doesn’t lie,” Inman said.

But opponents said that’s a smokescreen and no blood test would discover the chemicals used to sore horses.

The grand champion of The Celebration will be chosen on Sept. 5.

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