Genesis Awards: Roy Exum is Walking the Walk–Not Just Talking the Talk–When He Reports on Soring from Tennessee

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“The Horse Protection Act has been as lame as the horses it meant to protect”–Roy Exum

At Saturday night’s Genesis Awards in glitzy Hollywood, American horse reform politics walked out a winner–not just once, but twice.

But you might not have noticed the hard-working, horse-caring journalists among the Hollywood stars.

Begun in 1986, and backed by the Humane Society of the United States, the Genesis Awards are a chance for Hollywood celebrities who have a penchant for animal-related causes to dress up and saunter down a red carpet as they recognize each other and the media for increasing public awareness about animal treatment issues.

Genesis Awards host Carrie Ann Inaba of ABC's Dancing with the Stars.

The event was hosted by Carrie Ann Inaba, judge of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, and the names on the A list  for this event are impressive: Stephen Colbert? Check. Ke$ha? Check. Gray’s Anatomy? Discovery Channel? They all won for doing their part in publicizing animal treatment.

And so did several dedicated journalists and news producers dedicated to ending the soring of Tennessee walking horses.

Yes, among all the dogs and kitties and whales and near-extinct species was the wonderful Tennessee Walking horse. Sadly, the Walking horse was in the spotlight because laws designed to protect the horses from abuse still haven’t done their job.

It was an unlikely jump from the cute Modern Family sit-com dog Beatrice to the ugliness of pad stacks, chains and mutilated pasterns on Walking horses but the Genesis Awards made the leap.

First on the list was an award to ABC-TV’s Nightline program for airing the now-infamous undercover expose of Walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell beating and shocking horses in his training barn. “The Ugly Truth Behind High-Stepping Horses” aired a year ago.

But it was later in the night, and much further down the list that an award caught my eye.

ABC Nightline producers Megan Chuchmach ("Nightline" producer), Cindy Galli ("ABC World News" ) and Rhonda Schwartz ("ABC World News" Chief Investigative Reporter) accepted their Genesis Award for the segment on Walking horse soring undercover investigations. (HSUS photo)

Roy Exum is a columnist for the Chattanoogan, the daily newspaper in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was the award winner in Hollywood–and he managed to beat  New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who came in second.

Roy Exum has now penned roughly 24 columns advocating an end to horse soring in the Walking horse industry and exposing the political and social systems that cheating trainers depend on for the abuse to continue. You can read most of the columns, as they are archived on the Chattanoogan.com web site.

Roy Exum, award-winning columnist

Surely many of the people who read the Chattanoogan are Walking horse owners. Surely many of the advertisers in the paper are involved in some way in the Walking horse show world. But Roy Exum’s columns continue to pull no punches, and they continue to roll out.

In fact, in perfect timing with this article, Roy Exum published his latest call to action today. Trainer Jackie McConnell, the abusive “star” of the ABC undercover video was convicted of violating the federal Horse Protection Act last year, but did not receive a jail sentence.

In the meantime, Tennessee’s new animal abuse felony classification means that he is to be prosecuted again, on the state level. And this time there is a chance he will go to jail.

Roy Exum wants the public to demand it.

Also on Exum’s hit list is proposed legislation in Tennessee that will basically remove undercover videos as evidence in farm-related abuse cases. There are several similar legislative pushes like this in state legislatures across the country.

Keith Dane, director of equine protection for The HSUS, is also a Roy Exum fan. “His newspaper columns played a key role in exposing and publicizing of the mistreatment of these beautiful creatures and greatly helped The HSUS in its mission to put an end to the cruelty,” Dane said.

Walk Time Charlie at the Celebration 2012; photo by Randall Saxton

The big lick gait of the Walking horse has inspired trainers to do many things to exaggerate the horses' natural movements. (Randall Saxton photo)

I hope the day is coming when Roy Exum writes his last column calling for Walking horse reform. Not because he runs out of steam,but because the problem will be solved. And this could be the year.

The trick is to clean up the showing system without destroying the livelihood of trainers and owners or the breed. As with so many challenges in the horse world, the problem is not in passing another new law, new rule, or new penalty but in designing and making real a new way to show these horses that is just as exciting and crowd-pleasing, but that doesn’t abuse the horses.

That’s a tall order, but if horse trainers have spent so much time and effort to figure out how to get around the rules and not get caught, those same minds can invent a new show style for the Walking horse.

Roy Exum might have some ideas, too.

To learn more:
THECHATTANOOGAN.COM – Roy Exum – multiple part series on Tennessee Walking Horse soring

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18 Responses to “Genesis Awards: Roy Exum is Walking the Walk–Not Just Talking the Talk–When He Reports on Soring from Tennessee”

  1. [...] “The Horse Protection Act has been as lame as the horses it meant to protect”–Roy ExumAt Saturday night’s Genesis Awards in glitzy Hollywood, American horse reform politics walked out a winner. Not just once, but twice.It was an unlikely jump from the cute Modern Family sit-com dog Beatrice to the ugliness of pad stacks, chains and mutilated pasterns on Walking horses but the Genesis Awards made the leap.Click the headline or image to read the full article.  [...]

  2. Sandy Culbertson says:

    This is a great article!
    Roy Exum is a hero to those of us who have been fighting the Big Lick gait and the horrible abuse behind it for decades. The Horse Protection Act has been in place since the 70′s but corrupt law enforcement, paid off District Attorneys,, and Judges have made the HPA a laughable joke.
    Jackie McConnell is only ONE OF MANY.
    Last year I became aware that ambassadors of the Big Lick were going to Tennessee State University and endoctrinating the Veterinarian students there to the joys of soring. They were allowing students to ride (some of them for the very first time) horses wearing “stacks” or “pads” and from what I saw ~ many of them became converts. Vets get plenty of $$$ prescribing pain killers for \Sored\ horses.
    I would ask that the spot light be kept on any and ALL horse shows where the \performance class\ is allowed.
    Please know there are many of us out there watching every move made by the new Performance Show Horse Industry.
    It stops NOW!

  3. [...] “The Horse Protection Act has been as lame as the horses it meant to protect”–Roy ExumAt Saturday night’s Genesis Awards in glitzy Hollywood, American horse reform politics walked out a winner. Not just once, but twice.It was an unlikely jump from the cute Modern Family sit-com dog Beatrice to the ugliness of pad stacks, chains and mutilated pasterns on Walking horses but the Genesis Awards made the leap.Click the headline or image to read the full article.  [...]

  4. Remona says:

    Congratulations Roy and THANK YOU for everything you are doing! THANK YOU Keith Dane! You are both my hero’s! The Tennessee Walker show horses also thank you!

  5. Rachael says:

    This is good news for the TWH and those who want the industry cleaned up. I do believe there are good trainers who use humane methods who ask horses to do what they are capable of without the abuse and they, too, would like to see the industry cleaned up and attractive to those of us who will no longer go to the “big lick” shows.

  6. Jerry Harris says:

    To thank Roy for repeating what he was told to do by the h$u$ has to be the biggest joke ever played on the public. I guess when the total truth is not told by a so-called journalist an award his given for his ability to make up an article leaving out vital facts.
    All of you should remember the “TRUTH BECOMES A LIE WHEN ALL THE FACTS ARE NOT TOLD” most of the facts were not told and eleven months 29 days and over 23 hours were left out of the video the h$u$ was so proud of. They let horses suffer in order to bring in more money what is so great or HUMANE about that? Roy bragged about it and got an award for helping mislead the public. Only in America.

    • Jeannie Webb says:

      Shut up Jerry…you’ll be caught too. Only in America will you think you can get away with it..but you won’t. Big Lick is over..If you want the stats posted here, not a problem.

    • Torqued says:

      If only 10 seconds of a 10 year video showed that blatant evil that lickers do, that is plenty of info to pass judgement on jackie the jerk and the rest of the caustic crowd. Keep bleating we don’t know what we are talking about, keep defending evil. See where it gets you. You lickers have FORCED people go undercover to try and stop your crap. We have nothing to feel guilty about, it’s you lickers and burners that should be ashamed. But obviously you are all evil psychopaths that have no conscious. God is watching you torture and maim one of his beautiful creations. I would NOT want to be one of you that refuse to admit what you are doing is wrong and repent.

  7. Denise says:

    I would love to know which part was a lie? Were or were not horses abused for the love of winning in the show ring? Has or has not Mr. Exum continually written articles exposing and keeping this abuse in the forefront? What exactly was Roy Exum told to do by the HSUS? I am completely confused… All I see is a bunch of poor horses forced to parade around on platform shoes designed to exaggerate the gait to something resembling a stagger – and a group of people so committed to being allowed to continue to use whatever methods they must to have the horse with the most exaggerated gait, regardless of the painful consequences to the horse- because winning is that much more important.

  8. Sound Horse Advocate says:

    Once more, someone (Jerry) claims that the HSUS held on to evidence for a year before notifying the authorities. This is a lie. The HSUS DID inform authorities shortly after the video was taken, and it was authorities, NOT the HSUS, who chose to wait in order to build a case against McConnell. Unfortunately, this is the way the law enforcement system works sometimes. Meanwhile, the TWH industry has done nothing about the horse that was brought to the Celebration last year horribly sored. Reportedly, the horse is still with the trainer who sored him.

  9. Sara Mattice says:

    I find it interesting that Jerry Harris fails to disclose that he is the producer of a weekly TV show featuring Big Lick horses performing in various shows throughout the show seasons. Not surprising that he is desperate to discredit Mr. Exum. Videos don’t lie, and neither does the USDA database of violations. The abuse and soring continues, in spite of desperate statements to the contrary made by the Industry. It is a world of abuse, cheating, lying, and villifying others in a pathetic attempt at redemption.

  10. Cynthia Lansing says:

    Mr. Harris,

    What are the omitted facts?

  11. I think anyone who does anything that causes any harm at all to a horse just to enhance its step or gait …to give you an advantage,is nothing but a loser. I don’t care if you are a trainer,owner or a vet. you are all guilty of abuse. The gaited horses are beautiful steppers and don’t need chains,pads or chemicals. Proper training is what makes a good horse,not causing it pain with every step. Those who have allowed this should have to have the same thing done to them,make them walk with sore feet,sharp objects stabbing them with every step.Then take the horses and give them to a loving home where there is no fear or pain.

  12. Proud to be a part of putting an end to this travesty, Appearing in the ABC Nightline Expose was an honor to speak for the horse ~~~~

    Megan you sure clean up nice since that raining day filming this :)

    Roy, can’t wait to take you up on coming up and taking a ride with me.

    For more http://www.walkinonranch.com

  13. “The trick is to clean up the showing system without destroying the livelihood of trainers and owners or the breed.”

    Unfortunately, this isn’t true. I and countless others are perfectly happy to see the Big Lick go away completely and for those trainers who “train” for it and the owners who turn a blind eye to the abuse be punished. These owners and trainers are choosing to abuse and let their horses be abused; they have made their own beds, and now they must lie in it.

    Plus, the Big Lick is no longer in style and is frowned upon by the majority of the horse community and the general public at large. It is also estimated that only about 10% (probably less at this point) of the entire TWH show horse population is Big Lick. It is not necessary to the breed as a whole; only those who support it think it is. And those who support it has become a very small circle, and it’s only going to continue to dwindle. Trainers and owners can choose to do better for the horses and their own livelihoods by getting out now while the getting’s good.

  14. Martie Jacobson says:

    Video does not lie! Jackie McConnell has plead guilty to his crimes. The USDA list of offenders of the Horse Protection Act, most have multiple tickets, doesn’t lie. The forced, exaggerated gait doesn’t lie. Horses do NOT duck-waddle in the back end naturally, EVER, and X-rays of the unnatural and painful angles of the bony structures in the hooves of the heavily padded horses do NOT lie. Am I missing something? Oh, yes, ANY horse which is conditioned and in good shape and not in pain, will have NO trouble making it around an arena more than one lap without having to stop and suck in air and be a sweaty, frothing mess. That doesn’t lie, either. I have a naturally gaited, VERY animated, flat shod, national level winning Tennessee Walking Horse and she NEVER acts that way. I can show her in several classes in one day vs the Big-lick, which can barely make it through one class in one day, and she’ll come out of the ring anxious to go back in again. And the eyes of the horse don’t lie. Sored horses have worried, frantic eyes … whereas the naturally gaited, non-abused, flat-shod horse has a soft, kind and happy eye. Any questions? Thank you, Roy Exum, Keith Dane, the HSUS and the USDA for trying to obliterate the atrocities practiced by an estimated 10% of the TWH owners/trainers. If you’re not doing anything wrong, why are you fighting so hard to get a bill pushed through to prevent undercover video and/or require it to be turned over within 48 hours? It’s because Video DOESN’T LIE!!!

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