Be careful what you StumbleWish for

22 01 2007

pwned!On my Link to Bridlepath page, I mentioned StumbleUpon and what a great community it is. You install the SU toolbar on your browser, and state your preferences for certain sites (Equestrian/Horses, UK, Cooking, whatever you like). Clicking the SU icon will show you a page in that category; you can then give it a thumbs up or thumbs down, add people to your network, write reviews, etc. I’ve found lots of neat sites that way, and have used some of them in Bridlepath. It’s a great resource and the people I’ve ‘met’ on StumbleUpon have been great.

Until recently, that is.

Someone calling themselves “topdaz” created an Amazon affiliate site called StumbleWish. Supposedly, you would give the thumbs up to things you liked on the site, in hopes that some benign person would then buy it for you. Riiiiight. I’m not linking to it because I don’t want them getting any AdSense income from clicks; you can Google it if you’re really curious. I refuse to take part in their advertising scheme by condemning it.

The Disneyesque font and unauthorized use of the SU logo were bad enough. Many Stumblers, including myself, thought the whole thing smelled scammy and spammy and gave the site a thumbs down. The idiot responded by adding this to the site:

NEWS FLASH This website has been the victim of a sustained attack by a hard-core group of SU users dubbed: THE STUMBLE-WISH-HATERS-GANG (who have made public comments like: “The site is dishonest, illegal and vile on so many levels.”) “English law allows actions for libel to be brought in the High Court for any published statements which are alleged to defame a named or identifiable individual or individuals in a manner which causes them loss in their trade or profession, or causes a reasonable person to think worse of him, her or them.” If you have been contacted by anyone encouraging you to act illegally please contact us. If you have been caught up in the hysteria created by “The Stumble-Wish-Haters-Gang” you may like to re-evaluate your comments made against StumbleWish before possible legal proceedings commence.

Not only that, but I also received an obnoxious PM in my SU inbox, claiming that the whole thing was on the up-and-up; at the same time, I’m proud to say that my username samoboe was added to a “name & shame” list on the main page of the site. Oh goodness, that’s professional, isn’t it?! Reminds me of a certain troll who used to hang around the newsgroup.

It’s amazing what lengths people will go to for their stupid little viral marketing schemes, and how quickly they resort to bullying and attempts at intimidating when things don’t go their way. Topdaz, I think you’re about to find out how quickly social networking can turn around and bite you in the butt when you least expect it.

TWH inspection group adopts tougher rules

21 01 2007

Ringmaster, originally uploaded by appaIoosa.

…but, y’know, this being TWH world, some good ol’ boys are gonna oppose it. The Gallatin-based Horse Protection Commission approved the tougher inspection rules that were proposed a few years ago by the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association; Wink Groover, incoming president of the Walking Horse Trainers Association, has said he would not support the tougher rules that are being considered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Groover has said that the disagreement comes with differing interpretations of how walking horses can be trained. Link

Shall we take a closer look at Mr. Groover? Yes, let’s. Oh wow, he was named Walking Horse Trainers Association Trainer of the Year in 1970 and 1992, very impressive. But–wait, what’s this? Horse Protection Act violations, you say?

1993 Federal Case, 12/01/93=11/30/94, HPA, USDA

2000 Industry Violation, Bilateral Sore, $600 fine, 9 month suspension, HPA, NHSC

2002 Industry Violation, Unilateral Sore & Foreign Substance, 04/15/02=04/28/02, HPA, NHSC

2002 Industry Violation, Unilateral Sore & Foreign Substance, 04/22/02=05/05/02, HPA, NHSC

2002 Industry Violation, 2nd Scar Rule, 08/01/02=09/30/02, HPA, NHSC

2002 Industry Violation, Scar Rule, 07/08/02=07/21/02, HPA, NHSC

Very naughty indeed. I can see why you’d be the man to lead the Walking Horse Trainers Association forward into a gimpy, prizewinning future. Here’s another ribbon for ya:


Rotin hell, you abusive bastard


Bridlepath Hall of Shame: the “big lick” TWH industry

24 09 2006

(Hello Gaits of Gold readers! I hope you enjoy my blog, and feel free to leave a comment 🙂 )

The 2006 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was cancelled after USDA inspectors disqualified six out of nine horses in the championship class for soring. Soring takes many ugly forms, but one common practice is the application of caustic substances (including: mustard oil, kerosene, crotonaldehyde, salicylic acid, diesel oil, collodion) to the coronet band and fetlock in order to get a more animated gait. You’d be throwing your feet around too if they looked and felt like this:

“Big lick” TWHs can also be subjected to having chains around their fetlocks, or heavy stacks or pads nailed onto their feet to “enhance” their gait:


Mike Walden, the owner of a horse named Private Charter, was disqualified and he was later banned from the Celebration for two years after he reportedly offered three three trainers $10,000 each to withdraw their horses. Meanwhile, an organization separate from the Celebration event – the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association – announced its plans Thursday for another event to be held Nov. 24-25 in Murfreesboro.”As far as I am concerned, we won’t be there,” trainer Bill Bobo said about his horse, Rowdy Rev. “The world championship has come and gone. This is just another horse show.” C’mon, Bill; put your big-girl panties on and face reality. According to this site, you were not only Walking Horse Trainers Association Trainer of the Year in 1989, but you were also fined and suspended on three separate occasions for soring violations. (I guess you’re in good company, though; in 33 years of this Tennessee Walking Horse industry award, only 5 recipients have no recorded violations. 23 of the honorees have been ticketed for HPA violations; 18 of them with Federal cases. Five of these HPA violators were honored more than once. Startlingly, Rowdy Rev was one of the three horses who passed inspection at this year’s show, so I guess you’re making progress)

Just to add to the fun, a horse stabled at the Celebration tested positive for rabies. Boy, that takes a caring owner, doesn’t it? Good for you, 4J Land and Cattle Company! Routine vaccinations are for wimps!

I found an interesting video on YouTube (I won’t embed it here because I don’t want the sick mofo to think I’m endorsing it) which shows the general melee after it was announced the show was cancelled (fast forward it about a minute or so). The uploader, “utlaw97” says “Rides made after last class of 2006 Walking Horse Celebration was canceled. 9.2.2006. Not the best video, but you get a good idea of what happened. Takes me a minute or so to get to a spot where I could see, and then a little more time before moved camera to get a better view. Gives a good feel of the atmosphere after the show.” His rote response to other YouTubers (heh) who commented on the abuses? “Go hug a tree.” Classy.

On the one hand, it’s wonderful to see that the USDA inspectors actually did some good by exposing the abusive practices which are still going on, but the stubborn “good ol’ boy” mentality still seems to prevail. Never mind what they’re doing to a horse’s legs and heart; much more important to get that damn ribbon. Are we seeing a pattern here, dear readers? Yes, I think we are.

There are some wonderful, caring and brave TWH owners out there. The Jackson family saga is particularly instructive: they took their beautiful stallion Champagne Watchout to the 1999 Celebration, aiming to show him in the World Grand Championship class as a flat-shod horse. They were thwarted at every turn but did manage to enter him in the end. Watchout and his young rider Natalie Jackson were roundly booed; people tried to spook the horse, and in the end they needed a police escort back to their trailer. You can read about the whole sorry mess here; be sure to watch the videos.

Don't they look nice?

Natalie Jackson and Champagne Watchout

Just to be clear, there are plenty of owners and trainers who use ordinary keg shoes on their TWHs and would never subject them to such abuse; those fortunate horses live happy lives and are well-loved and cared for. These people deserve our applause and support. In the meantime, kudos to the inspectors who pulled the show. It’s gotten a lot of attention even in the non-horsey press; maybe the days of abusive, cheating, racist hicks dominating the breed are finally numbered. The horses deserve no less.

Further reading:

Linda Polk at the Houston Chronicle site has blogged about this too: The ugliness around us, Hoping for the best, When does it end? Also see this post at Horse Training Success, and Katie Allison Granju’s letter to the editor. (The comments are particularly…enlightening)

The Sore Tennessee Walking Horse has more information, including some hard-to-look-at photos.

Lots of good info at The Soring of Horses.

Understanding Soring and Helping to Stop It has some good photos showing the odd posture and gait of sored horses.

Tennessee Walking Horse Heritage Society promotes calm, steady trail horses with little or no breeding from padded bloodlines.

Update: (9/26)

A published report in Chattanooga says two of the three judges who were going to judge a new Tennessee walking horse show in Murfreesboro have pulled out.

Brian Martin told the Chattanooga Times Free Press he got “all kinds of calls” telling him National Horse Show Commission bylaws prevent him from judging noncommision shows. Texas resident Martin says it takes a lot of work to earn a judging license and he doesn’t want to start over.

Allen Forman of Georgia cited the same restriction in canceling his agreement to judge the Murfreesboro show.

The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville ended in August without naming a national grand champion after several horses were disqualified by government inspectors. They cited evidence the animals had been “sored” to make them exaggerate their natural strutting gait.


Bridlepath Hall of Shame: Horse show mom from hell

12 09 2006

Flying Sunbeam

Timmy Clark on Flying Sunbeam, one of the alleged doping victims. The pony, which was said to be hanging its head and unsteady on its feet, was given a blood test (Jersey Evening Post)

You have to wonder what goes through some people’s minds–think how dangerous this could have been for the children and their ponies.

Shame!ONE of the most prestigious events in the Jersey showjumping calendar has been cancelled after the mother of a young competitor was accused of feeding sedatives to ponies belonging to her son’s rivals.

Police were called in after the woman was spotted giving what appeared to be white mints to five ponies waiting in the paddock on Saturday shortly before the Junior Showjumper of the Year contest.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bridlepath’s Hall of Shame: Gene Parker

7 09 2006

Shame!Our first winner: Gene Parker, breeder and shower of AQHA halter stallions, opposes anti-HYPP legislation. Do you think the fact that he stands three H/N stallions has anything to do with it? In his own words:

There is a very simple solution: Let it be our choice.

If you do not want to breed for this gene, breed an N/N mare to an N/N stallion.

If you don’t want to own a horse with this gene, don’t buy one.

But if you do desire this gene, it should be your choice to either breed or purchase a horse of your choosing.

Goodness me, who wouldn’t desire this gene?!

The disease is most common in the bloodline of the famous Appendix American Quarter Horse stallion Impressive, who has over 55,000 living descendants as of 2003. Although the disease is primarily limited to the American Quarter Horse breed and closely related breeds such as American Paint Horses and Appaloosas at this time, cross-breeding has begun to extend it to grade horses and ponies. The spread of the disease is perpetuated by the favorable judgings given to diseased horses in showing, due in part to involuntary muscle twitching which helps to build large, bulky muscles that judges favor. (Wiki)

I highly recommend reading this; here’s an extract:

What initially got me involved was witnessing my horse The Nibblet suffer a horrific HyPP attack. After snapping the lead rope to her halter she fell at my feet and lay motionless. I raised her head and it fell to ground with a thud. The HyPP attack had rendered her totally paralyzed. At the time I had no clue what HyPP was. A few minutes later she regained movement in the front half of her body and tried in vain to stand pawing her front legs on the ground in the process dragging the back half of her body around the stall. I was looking on in fear not knowing what to do. I had called the vet as soon as she went down got his pager # (it was Sunday) after explaining what happened he asked me if she had Impressive in her bloodlines and that led to the HyPP and she tested HyPP N/H.

I had researched HyPP prior to the test coming back and discovered HyPP was a dominant gene so either the sire or dam had to be HyPP positive. Turns out my friends stud was HyPP N/H and she never told me my Philly had 50% chance of having HyPP. This is the same woman who helped me out with horses and was even there the day The Nibblet was born in my sisters barn. She never once said anything about HyPP then or the numerous times I stopped into her store to buy feed for The Nibblet. The irony of all of this was she sold me the feed that caused The Nibblet to have her HyPP attack. The reason was the high potassium content in the feed. After consulting a nutritional specialist I was able to change her diet to a low potassium level. She had a few minor attacks during the diet transition and went on to go attack free as far as I knew.

In the meantime, I shall come up with a suitably derisive graphic for our Hall of Shame members. 😉

Edit: Even better, the lovely Stitchy has come up with one! YDMND!

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