From: The Chattanoogan
By: Roy Exum
The last time there was a “Dutch” in Washington was in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan, famously nicknamed “Dutch” by his father and later his friends, served as the nation’s 40th President. Another “Dutch” will appear in front of the famed Reflection Pool today as part of a rally to draw national outrage to a heinous practice within the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.
The Humane Society of the United States will bring a once-noble show horse named “Dutch,” who was rescued from an animal processing center after being brutalized by a twisted trainer and permanently scarred from torture that persists to this day in the industry. Still an amazing and inspiring horse, “Dutch” will join six world champions that will parade before the public eye in a peaceful protest in the very shadow of Capitol Hill.
A nationwide grassroots organization, calling itself the All-American Walking Horse Alliance, will bring sound horsemen from almost every state in a “Walk on Washington” at 1 p.m. in an attempt to urge Washington’s lawmakers to pass what is being called The PAST Act (Prevention All Soring Tactics.) Unbelievably, a full two-third of Congress – 291 of 435 at last count – and 56 of 100 members of the Senate have already co-sponsored the PAST Act.
But – even more unbelievably – a fierce resistance led by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) and Congresswoman Marcia Blackburn (R-Franklin) threatens to derail the much-needed legislation. Alexander and Blackburn have offered a badly watered-down bill that many suspect is due to a deep alliance with the detested Big Lick faction based in Shelbyville, Tenn.
Alexander’s state campaign chairman is Steven B. Smith, a noted Big Licker who has been cited for violating the federal Horse Protection Act, while Blackburn was feted at a Big Lick fundraiser last August where allegedly $70,000 was given to her campaign. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Ooltewah) is among the Tennessee Republicans shunning the PAST Act, while Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) has not made a stand, hoping the whole thing will go away.
But it is not going away. The “Big Lick” is not included in a growing number of horse shows, registrations with the Breeders’ Association are plummeting and public scorn has never been higher. The PAST Act would ban the dreaded pads, action chains and pressure shoes that have consistently drawn ire since the Horse Protection Act was authored in 1970 by then-Senator Joseph Tydings of Maryland.
The legendary Tydings, now 86 years old, will be among the speakers at today’s rally, along with the original sponsors of the PAST Act (HR 1518), Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky) and Rep. Steven Cohen (D-Memphis). “What is being done to these horses in 2014 is brutal and has no place in a civilized society,” Tydings told reporters. “I am convinced the only answer is to eliminate the pads and the chains.”