Presley seeks to revoke walking horse contest trophy


Most Americans are unaware of what “soring” is. Perhaps if more celebrities, like Priscilla Presley, raised their voices then the Tennessee Walker would no longer suffer. ~ HfH

From: USA Today
By: Heidi Hall

Elvis’ former wife says she can’t support industry’s ‘inhumane methods.’

priscillaThere won’t be a Graceland Challenge Trophy at the nation’s premier walking horse competition next year after its donor, Priscilla Presley, decided to take it back after three decades.

Presley said she didn’t know the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration still awarded the trophy, given in memory of her ex-husband, Elvis Presley. She attended the Shelbyville, Tenn., event in 1983 and donated it as part of an exhibition featuring Ebony’s Double, the last walking horse Elvis Presley ever bought. She thought it was a one-time award, but it’s been given every year since and is listed in the latest Celebration program under prizes for the Four-Year-Old Walking Horse World Grand Championship.

Today, she owns two Tennessee Walking Horses, stabled on the grounds of the Presley family’s Graceland estate in Memphis, and is a vocal supporter of a federal bill seeking to end abuse of the breed.

“Graceland isn’t going to support this, knowing what we know now,” Presley said Tuesday. “We want that trophy back.

“I can’t support the trophy when inhumane methods are used on these horses. I can’t support it.”

horse soring

Priscilla Presley said she didn’t know the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration still awarded the trophy, given in memory of her ex-husband, Elvis Presley. / File / The Tennessean

The Celebration hasn’t yet received the request, said CEO Mike Inman, but that could be because the offices are closed for the holidays. He said he would like a chance to speak to Presley before she makes a final decision.

“I believe she’d come to a different conclusion,” Inman said.

At issue is H.R. 1518, a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and co-sponsored by more than 200 others, which would end the use of the tall horseshoes and ankle chains used by the breed’s performance division to accentuate its naturally higher, longer gait. Some unscrupulous trainers chemically burn the horses’ pasterns or hide irritants in the shoes to exaggerate the gait even further, a process known as “soring.”

The bill also would reform horse inspections at shows and stiffen penalties for soring.

Industry leaders oppose it, saying the bill would prompt a dramatic negative economic impact without addressing underlying problems — which they say already are being handled. They cite measurable improvement in the number of citations written for suspected abuse and a study that showed the light chains are harmless.

But severe cases recently uncovered in Tennessee drew national attention to the problem. Jackie McConnell, once a Celebration Hall of Fame horse trainer, was convicted of violating the Horse Protection Act last year after the Humane Society of the United States released a stomach-turning undercover video of abuse in his Collierville, Tenn., stables. A grand jury indicted Maryville, Tenn., trainer Larry Wheelon this month on charges of similar abuse.

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AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
  • Debbie

    Good for her. And maybe she will change her mind….when the industry proves that they have changed their methods and support the horses welfare and not the abusers profits.

    December 27, 2013
  • Thanks Mrs. Presley for speaking out on this terrible abuse of defenseless horses. I hope you “stand your ground” and do not let them change your stance. I do not own a horse but cannot stomach abuse of any animal. Even two legged animals.

    January 2, 2014