Others, such as
the National Celebration Group at Shelbyville, whose show will be held at the
end of next month, plan to stand by their old rule—if an exhibitor feels
strongly enough that a rival horse is unsound he can post $25 and protest. If
the horse is declared sound after examination by veterinarians, the Celebration
keeps the money; if not, it is returned to the protestee and the questioned
horse disqualified. Thus exhibitors become each others' watchdogs. Clyde Tune,
Chairman of the National Celebration Group, suspecting that there have been
"gimmicked" horses shown at Shelbyville, feels that it puts the judge
on the spot to have him responsible for the removal of the boots. However, he
will admit that the judge is boss, and if he asks that the boots be removed
then there is nothing to do but remove them.
But the sad fact
of the matter is that most judges are afraid to do what Davis did. They must
not make too many exhibitors mad, for many depend on their fees for a large
part of their livelihood. Mr. Davis, an automobile dealer with a horse hobby,
does not. And his action frightened the pain inflicters enough so that no
tricks were tried for several weeks.
future of the Walking Horse," asserts John Askew, former president of the
Breeders' Association, "has never depended on the abuse of horses. A really
good show horse would cost $10,000 to $15,000, and people who invest that kind
of money aren't going to take chances of crippling the animal or giving him
blood poisoning." But for every big-time investor there are many, many,
small ones—and they too want to win ribbons. By some moral chemistry they often
decide that if they don't have the money to buy or breed a top horse, then they
have the shrewdness to make a medium one look better and so will try with tacks
and acid to force a cheap horse to walk like a champion. They feel only triumph
if they succeed—for a night.
The State of
Kentucky passed a law in May stating that a handler attempting to show a sore
Walker will be fined and, on second offense, jailed. Ringmasters permitting
tampered horses to compete also face fines.
That, at least,
is a step forward. For this is disgraceful cruelty and it must be fought.