Gloves off in Texas agriculture commissioner race after accusation that candidate mishandled horses


Driving a trailer around with horses tied to the back?! How anyone could see this as a safe exercise method is ludicrous. ~ HfH
From: The Dallas Morning News
By: David Barer

Sid Miller and Tommy Merritt (l-r) ((AP Photo) (AP Photo / LM Otero )

Sid Miller and Tommy Merritt (l-r) ((AP Photo) (AP Photo / LM Otero )

The gloves have come off in the race for Texas agriculture commissioner after a top Republican candidate was accused of mishandling his horses by using a potentially dangerous exercising technique and was warned by the American Quarter Horse Association.

Former state representative Sid Miller of Stephenville tied three of his champion quarter horses to the back of his trailer and drove them slowly in circles for exercise at a May show in San Antonio. Some horse experts call the method perilous; a horse could trip or yank back and severely injure itself. Miller said he loves his valuable horses and would never put them in physical danger. Though the practice could be dangerous for some, Miller said his horses are accustomed to it and the criticism is unwarranted.

Tommy Merritt, a former Republican representative from Longview also in the race, blasted Miller over the accusation.

“I believe that any professional in the rodeo or horse business would take a position of being ashamed for someone alleged to be a world champion cowboy to treat his animals in this manner,” Merritt said. “He brings a great disgrace to the profession for treating his animals that way.”

You can read the full story here.

Perhaps the shot signals a turn toward the nasty in the tame-so-far, down-ballot race for a position that registers small on most Texans’ minds but oversees a huge sector of the state’s economy.

Miller, who has won numerous world calf tie-down titles, disagreed and called into question Merritt’s horse bona fides.

Miller said he had to help Merritt saddle a horse when they were both at a Texas ranch in the past.

“Tommy doesn’t know squat about horses,” said Miller. “I know he doesn’t know much about horses. He’s not qualified to make that statement.”

Miller said the anonymous tip received by The Dallas Morning News was likely either a political opponent or an attempt by a rodeo adversary to try to get him barred or sanctioned from competition.

Other Republican candidates in the race include attorney and GOP executive Eric Opiela, and farmer and Mayor of Uvalde J Allen Cares. Both declined to comment.

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AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
  • Judith Lee

    For Tom Merritt to mention “rodeo” in the same sentence with “horse business shows his ignorance and jumping on the bandwagon attitude. Rodeo is in no way professional when it comes to dealing with horses. They display the most cruel treatment of any horse oriented “business.” Rodeo should be outlawed and Merritt should get his facts straight before he opens his mouth. But, I am asking too much. He’s a politician and they are all stupid, ignorant and self-serving.

    December 7, 2013
    • sherriey

      ….and with big mouths!
      but….the practice of exercising horses by pulling them around with a trailer shouldn’t be condoned either. be it Rodeo or Halter or Pleasure or whatever. thats no way to exercise a horse!

      December 7, 2013
  • Marge Mullen

    What about the emissions from the truck??

    December 7, 2013
  • Debbie

    I have never personally seen someone tie a horse to a trailer and drive around to exercise it. I find it hard to believe he doesn’t have enough money to hire someone to exercise the horse(s). Safety issues aside, seems extremely lazy. An experienced person would be able to ride and pony horses to work them. But then politicians aren’t always the sharpest tools in the shed.

    December 7, 2013
  • Terra Pennington

    I don’t care when the horse industry like the AQHA and the Rodeo/racing industry think that damage or less than perfect horses should go to slaughter. When you guys start to stand up and stop horse slaughter from opening in the USA again then talk to the American people about humane treatment of horses and the safety or our food supply for a select few to make money…

    December 8, 2013
  • Tex

    Judy, and other trolls, rodeo is a proud Texan profession. Its ignorant to believe it’s not. Horses are valuable in every respect. I’m ashamed anyone would think otherwise. If Sid miller is not smart enough to work a show horse, how is he smart enough to lead Texas agriculture. I’m undecided in the race, but Tom is standing up where everyone else is shying away. That means something to me.

    December 8, 2013
  • Daniel Cordero

    Sid Miller… alias the man who tried to resurrect horse slaughter in Texas. He was basically the puppet of AQHA, Beltex and the friends in the state capitol. I don’t find his actions surprising at all…

    December 9, 2013
  • Paula Denmon

    All of these candidates should be against HORSE SLAUGHTER returning to Texas. Make them state in writing where they stand. Miller and the AQHA are on borrowed time when it comes to the lies that they have spread about necessary humane slaughter for old lame horses. Considering that 70% of American Horses slaughtered are Quarter Horses between the ages of 3-10. Rodeos are notorious for mistreating animals…and agricultural in Texas should project humane care of farm animals. Email me for more info from Animal Angels.

    December 17, 2013