By Associated Press and Gannett Tennessee
from: The Tennessean
Photo: Trainer Winky Groover watches as a USDA inspector looks over his horses at the Celebration in Shelbyville. / JOHN PARTIPILO / The Tennessean
CHATTANOOGA — A dispute between Tennessee walking horse owners and a national animal advocacy group is intensifying as the major horse show of the year plays out in Shelbyville.
The Humane Society of the United State has posted a new video on its website in which a trainer convicted of intentionally soring horses is interviewed.
Barney Davis says on the video that the only way to win at the National Walking Horse Celebration is to sore the animals to walk with an exaggerated gait.
“I’ve shown at the Celebration three, maybe four, times. I trained them myself and they were sore. I’m not going to lie,” said Davis, 39.
Celebration officials say the claims made by Davis are false, and the arguments will spill into Murfreesboro this morning as two groups have announced news conferences to air their side of things.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, and Keith Dane, director of equine protection, held a press conference to discuss the history of “soring” within the industry and what’s needed to turn around this problem. Davis has agreed to appear as well to provide an insider’s view of training practices within the industry.
The 9 a.m. press conference was held at the DoubleTree Murfreesboro, Salon A, 1850 Old Fort Parkway in Murfreesboro.
An hour later, representatives from the Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization and current Celebration participants addressed the media at 10 a.m. “to set the record straight regarding the HSU misinformation campaign” at Holiday Inn Express, 165 Chafin Place in Murfreesboro.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Celebration officials fault the society for not immediately reporting horse abuse it found at a Collierville stable where an undercover operative was secretly taking video to document it.
“They allowed horse abuse to continue for 11 months in order to fuel their fundraising and public relations machines,” read a statement from Celebration officials.
The statement offends Keith Dane, director of equine services for the Humane Society, who called it “a totally baseless if not actionable statement.”
Dane said there are inconsistencies between the statements and the actions of people in the industry.
The first videos at trainer Jackie McConnell’s training stable were taken in the spring of 2011 and were shown to prosecutors within weeks.
Read more: The Tennessean