It is still illegal to sore the forelegs or feet of the Tennessee Walking Horse by use of irritants—the cruel practice causes the animals to pick up their hoofs in a judge-pleasing, high-stepping gait—but new regulations issued by the Department of Agriculture last year make it "virtually impossible" to prosecute cases involving soring. That is the lamentable conclusion of Thomas F. Turley Jr. of the U.S. Attorney's office in Memphis after all but one of 33 indictments returned by a federal grand jury in July, 1973 against owners, trainers and exhibitors at the Cotton Carnival Horse Show were dismissed this fall.
The regulations stem from tests conducted jointly by a branch of the agency and representatives of the walking horse fraternity. Said the department, "The test found that horses, much like humans, exhibit varying degrees of sensitivity—that devices that might harm one horse would not necessarily harm another." It concluded: "The responsibility for adapting a particular device to an individual horse should rest with the trainer of each horse. Trainers certainly should know when a horse is sore and what made the horse sore."
The logic is impeccable. The man who beats his wife should be the judge of whether she is hurt or not, since some women can absorb more punishment than others, a nicety that only an expert wife-beater can discern.
Fortunately, women can and do speak up for themselves these days. Since horses cannot, a suggestion to Agriculture: write new regulations that put responsibility for policing the systematic torture of the walking horse back where it was previously and where it belongs, on department veterinarians or inspectors, or stand accused as an equal partner in equine crime.
SOUP FOR NUTS
At this season of Thanksgiving it is perhaps fitting to give thanks once more for that mouth-watering book The Baseball Encyclopedia, and its feast of nicknames of major league players. A menu drawn from its pages might well feature the traditional Turkey (Tyson), but it also could include Ham ( Hyatt), Goose (Goslin), Chicken (Hawkes), Rabbit (Maranville), Ribs (Raney) and Possum (Whitted). For diners on a budget, there are Stew ( Bowers) and Sweetbreads (Bailey). Seafood lovers could choose Shad (Barry), Snapper (Kennedy) or Catfish (Hunter), starting off with an Oyster (Burns) or six. Soup (Campbell) would have its place on any table, and it would be appropriate to wolf down a Cuke (Barrows), Spud (Chandler) or Yam (Yaryan), taking care to save room for Pickles (Dillhoefer), Noodles (Hahn), or even Chile (Gomez).
Sips of a Highball (Wilson) might precede the meal for many, but for beer drinkers there would be both Bock (Baker) and regular Suds (Sutherland), and for teetotalers a variety of Ade (Garrett) and Juice (Latham). A little cream Sherry (Robertson) would go down smoothly, after one indulged in a Cookie (Lavagetto), some Peaches (O'Neill) or Pie (Traynor), got the jaws working on some Taffy (Wright) or other Candy(Cummings) and stirred Sugar (Cain) into a cup of coffee. Anyone nursing another Highball or Bock into the evening would naturally have a few Pretzels (Pezzullo) or Peanuts (Lowrey).
The problem seemed insoluble. Airline ticket agents at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta were being cut off three or four times in the course of a single conversation. Even the birds in the lobby cocktail lounge—two scarlet macaws, one Mexican double-yellow-headed parrot and one Mexican red-headed parrot—seemed irate, screeching their silly heads off. The birds? Come to think of it, the lines went out every time one of them let out a yawp.
Communications Director Bob DeLoach finally figured out that the birds' calls were on the same frequency as a signal that instructed the computing equipment to disconnect the line, register the amount of time it was in use and make a record for billing (no pun there). De-Loach got the better of the fine feathered fiends by installing noise-canceling microphones, but that did not answer the question of why the birds were so querulous. The bartender knew. People in the lounge fed them cherries and fruit from their drinks and—there really is no delicate way to put this—they were constantly smashed.