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TWH: "No Market for the breed. . ."

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  • TWH: "No Market for the breed. . ."

    This is just a rant. . .wasn't sure whether to post it here or in the Off-Course. . .

    At the Walking Horse sale at Tattersall's in Lexington, KY last weekend, I picked up a free copy of one of the TWH publications. There was an article about the TWHBEA's first executive committee meeting of 2010, and I found a comment from Performance Horse Vice President, Ty Irby, quite interesting.

    The article stated that Ty Irby "emphasized that horse show development is critical, especially outside of Middle Tennessee." The direct quote from him was "we are selling to each other because there is no market for the breed outside of Tennessee."

    No market for the breed, Mr. Irby? Really?

    Granted, the economy is in a slump which means many people simply are not buying horses. That much was obvious at the sale. There were some very nice, sound, beautiful, naturally-gaited horses going for under $1000.

    But his comment about there being no market for the breed just shows how serious the problem of the TWHBEA's collective rectal-cranial impaction really is.

    They've been focusing so much on shows - especially giving the spotlight to the padded/"performance" classes - that they seem completely oblivious to the fact that most of the TWH owners outside of Middle Tennessee want nothing to do with the Big Lick Freak Show.

    There absolutely IS a market for the Tennessee Walking Horse outside of Tennessee. It's just that the demand is for naturally-gaited, flat-shod horses for trail and recreational riding. The average TWH owners have no use for high-stepping padded horses that need to stop and "blow out" frequently and can't make sudden turns because they will trip over all the junk attached to their hooves.

    Membership is dropping. A lot. In the past four years, TWHBEA memberships have gone from 18,457 to 10,942. It just baffles me that the leadership at TWHBEA seems so bent on continuing to support and promote the "Performance Horse" that it will sacrifice all else and run the whole organization into the ground.
    Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.

  • #2
    Very interesting view from the top. Most breed associations go out of their way to promote their breed as the one that can fit all needs. I would think there is a huge market for soft gaited horses among people getting older and just looking something fun and easy.

    When I get around to getting another horse, I wan't a soft gaited horse myself. So far I am just looking(window shopping is so good-no boarding bills etc.!!) . But I like Peruvians as I have exposure to them and the Mangalarga seem good-at least theoretically. Don't have too much exposure. But the first thing you think of TWH is the big lick image and it scares you off. They should encourage different classes and different aspects. I mean you have halter Arabs with all their exotic stuff and then your endurance arabs and you can show them too-one does not have to negate the other. Why shoot yourself in the foot by focusing only on the showy type horses??


    • #3
      Rather fight than switch!

      I have a wonderful 7yr old TWH mare that has mental "issues"
      from being started at a show barn. A trainer friend told me that
      she acts like a horse that was beaten. Breaks my heart.

      I bought her as a 5 yr old and have been trying to gain her
      trust ever since. We are making progress, I'm happy to report.

      I paid my dues to the TWHBEA when I transferred her papers,
      but I am not paying anymore because I detest those magazines they bless you with. The pictures make me sick.

      This mare has become a wonderful, bold, smooth, exceptional
      trail horse, which is what I bought her to be. Her gait is natural and she seems to be able to do it endlessly.

      Yep, the market is possibly best for the ones lucky enough
      to be treated like horses.


      • #4
        Originally posted by JollyBadger View Post
        They've been focusing so much on shows - especially giving the spotlight to the padded/"performance" classes - that they seem completely oblivious to the fact that most of the TWH owners outside of Middle Tennessee want nothing to do with the Big Lick Freak Show.
        You know, as an owner of a pleasure TWH and SSH I'm ok with them being oblivious to us. I will not ever, in any way, support an organization that has big lick folks in it -- or leadership that justifies the history of it in any way. We've not officially transferred either of their papers to our name because I didn't want to give them money. He thinks there's not market for TWHs? Great. Stop breeding and training. Please.
        "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
        <>< I.I.


        • #5
          The TWH breed association is made up of good 'ol boys intent on preserving the "big lick" horse. They will never see that soring and the resulting mutant gaits are disgusting.

          I am glad to see the membership of the TWH associaton drop, while membership in associations like FOSH hopefully increase. I also dropped my TWH membership, do not subscribe to their publications, will not attend a sanctioned show, and in no way will I ever support that big lick mentality.

          Maybe the word is finally getting out. Not that many years ago I attended the Concert for Champions at the American Royal. It is an annual multi breed demonstration set to the music of a live symphony orchestra. Well what did I see but a segment with two big lick horses. I booed.

          Afterwards I wrote to the organization that put on the show and said I will never again pay to attend this event. Haven't been back since.


          • Original Poster

            I also had a membership with TWHBEA after purchasing my gelding back in 2001, but didn't bother to renew it. Most of the other people I know who once had memberships are not at all interested in the padded show horse and also have not bothered to renew.

            IMO, as long as that organization continues to support and promote the Big Lick, they are supporting and promoting everything that goes along to create that image. I think that's part of the reason why the TWHBEA is not the organization chosen to showcase the breed at the WEG later this year, and instead the NWHA will be there to represent.

            The article I quoted from in the OP really kind of floored me and left me shaking my head. After all of the scandal and negative attention that has surrounded the breed in recent years, the TWHBEA still can't seem to grasp the idea that most of the horse world outside of Middle Tennessee looks at The Big Lick with disgust.
            Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.


            • #7
              I'm in Alabama.

              I can't find yet another soul in the state who wants to show their TWH on NWHA approved dressage tests. I think they have to exist, surely they do?

              As for the NWHA...they won't acknowledge USDF judges at shows willing to add NWHA tests to their roster, so those can't be affiliated shows. They have to be NWHA judges...who aren't USDF recognized judges. Follow that circular logic and tell me how to get the breed some recognition?

              I can't find anyone else in central AL interested in taking lessons with a fab dressage trainer who will come to YOU and teach you on YOUR own TWH.

              I'm not 4 hours from Shelbyville and there's no interest here in 'gaited dressage'. Nada.

              Maybe those old boys are asshats, but I can't find a real footing out here in the real world for good, natural, sound TWHs in competition. I'd have to travel at least one full state away to compete in NWHA, and FOSH? Forget it, not a hint of it here. I can't up and go to Missouri for a weekend, or KY. There's not a darn thing I can do with this horse to earn him some recognition. It's frustrating.


              • #8
                You should have posted this in "Off Course" with a link on this board to the thread, IMO. Some of us just frequent "Horse Care" and "Off Course" because we have been shouted down in some of the other sections of COTH, so we just don't visit to the other sections as a rule.... If the thread hadn't popped up on the main board I would have missed it, but I do have an opinion....

                The direct quote from him was "we are selling to each other because there is no market for the breed outside of Tennessee."
                ! That's the funniest thing I've read since that TB guy said of Northern Dancer (as a yearling), "Who wants to buy a midget?"!!! Who indeed?

                Anyway, I love Walking Horses but abhor what is done to obtain the big lick. I just don't get it, why you would want to put a horse through that if you really love the breed?

                That said, if the TWHBEA would fold up tomorrow would anyone who truly cares about the breed miss it? Maybe their time has come since they can't figure out for themselves that interest in the big lick is dwindling???? I say, "Let 'em fall!". Someone else can pick up the pieces and maybe Walking Horses will finally get the love and respect that they deserve!

                I'm sure Mr. Dement has been spinning in his grave lo these many years....

                Or maybe Mr. Irby needs to be on the receiving end of a deluge of letters explaining to him why people have dropped their memberships! Maybe it would help, maybe not but you have to admit that the power of COTH has done many good things in the past....
                "I'm not much into conspiracy theories but if everyone thinks alike you don't need a plot!" ~person from another bulletin board whose name has been long forgotten~


                • #9
                  I dropped my TWHBEA membership also, HATED getting the Voice with all the freaked out, stressed padded horses, I did do the saddle log and got the 1000 hour award--a chintzy rain jacket, but final straw for me was when they dropped the endurance program. SO MANY walkers are out there racking up miles and some pretty impressive careers, what better way to 'prove' the breed's toughness, saneness, soundness and usefullness as a recreational horse? They're completely blind to 95% of their potential members interests, who are obviously spending their $$ elsewhere now
                  Windwalker Ridge: Gaited horses, lessons, training, sales


                  • #10
                    All I can say is - my first experience with Walkers was when I went to a week long camp. The people that owned the camp were also big into Big Lick Walkers. They gave all the kids that went through the horse program at their camp (not walkers, just camp plug horses) anyway- we all got a booklet about conformation and riding and all kinds of things that happened to include lots of full page photos of their fancy big lick walkers. I remember looking at one of the pictures in particular and wondering what was wrong with that horse's odd scaley pasterns and fetlocks.... This was before soring was frowned upon, apparently. And those odd clunky chain bracelets... And horrible pad shoes.

                    Anyway, my thought looking at those pictures was, (channeling Lucille Ball) "Eeeeeewwwww......" I was not impressed. For a long time, that was what I thought all walkers looked like, did, and how they were ridden. And I did not want one in the least!

                    Trouble is, Big Lick is where the Big Money is.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tkhawk View Post
                      But I like Peruvians as I have exposure to them and the Mangalarga seem good-at least theoretically. Don't have too much exposure.??
                      come to TN...I'll score you a ride on about 6 of them

                      Tamara in TN
                      Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                      I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


                      • #12
                        My neighbor has a TWH in his thirties. He has had the horse since he was two years old and a big lick horse. My neighbor had him regularly shod and made him into a wonderful trail horse. There is life after big lick.
                        Free bar.ka and tidy rabbit.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by chemteach View Post
                          There is life after big lick.
                          I don't think anyone is denying this. They just don't see why they have to pay to support an organization that seems to ONLY support big lick, and ignores everyone else.


                          • #14
                            I don't blame them.
                            Free bar.ka and tidy rabbit.


                            • #15
                              Tamara often comments that there's nothing wrong with the TWHBEA that about 20 funerals in Middle TN would not cure. She’s not being bloodthirsty; she’s acknowledging the political reality of the Walking Horse world. She's right on that score; the TWHBEA is deeply beholden to a relative handful of people and these people are completely committed to the defense of the Big Lick (a/k/a the Padded) horse. They have been so since the middle '50s. To back off that commitment now would mean eating crow by the bale.

                              The market for non-padded Walkers has always been negatively affected by the TWHBEA's commitment. The biggest portion of breeders in the U.S. are in Middle TN and padded horse prospects bring the biggest money. Even when the equine market was healthy a good Walker (but not good for padding) could be had for $1500, more less, all day long. I know, personally, at least two CA Walker barns that used to come to Middle TN with semis and buy youngsters for $600-$800 each to go back to CA where they sold for $4000-$6000. We paid a premium for our first Walker in MD, but then found out that we seriously overpaid; didn't do that with our second (or any of the dozen or more subsequent Walkers we bought). Today a good Walker can be had for well under $1000 just about anywhere. And "free to a good home" is not uncommon.

                              Note that the commitment we are dealing with is less to pads and chains than it is to the way of going, itself. The incidence of soring (and other abusive practices) may well be more widespread in the Plantation and Light Shod divisions, where people seek Big Lick movement but without the mechanical aids.

                              I noted the decline in numbers for TWHBEA membership. I guess when you’re dealing with stock under $1000 spending any money on registration is uneconomical.

                              Addressing the Big Lick breeding practices of the last 55 years would need it’s own thread.

                              Is there life after the Big Lick? It depends. If the horse hasn’t been “touched” too hard, then maybe it has a chance at a second career. But it’s had the “full treatment” it will have multiple lameness’s and constant movement issues. I’ve owned one like this and observed countless others.

                              Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                              • #16
                                There was an article about the TWHBEA's first executive committee meeting of 2010, and I found a comment from Performance Horse Vice President, Ty Irby, quite interesting.

                                The article stated that Ty Irby "emphasized that horse show development is critical, especially outside of Middle Tennessee." The direct quote from him was "we are selling to each other because there is no market for the breed outside of Tennessee."
                                No surprise to me that Mr. Irby would think this way. He is a dyed -in-the wool "Big Lick" oh, excuse me - "performance" horse trainer, and has been for about 30 years-- make that his entire career- that I know of.

                                When my late husband and I began showing flatshod on the "Heart 'o Dixie" circult, there was only one class for flat-shod horses -- it was called "Two Gait-Favorite Gait"- and was open to ANY gaited horse-- even unregistered ones. If I remember correctly, Mr. Irby was one of the trainers who liked it that way just fine.-- All his clients showed the unnatural horses with the pads and/or chains -- and he wanted to keep as many classes for those horses as possible.

                                I am not surprised that he is now up in the "higher" ranks as the VP for "performance" horses, and he still hasn't learned anything. It's becuse of people with an attitude like his that we ( and thousands lik use) over the years have quit showing in the TWHBEA and NSHRC sanctioned shows and went to all-breed shows and finally to historical reenactments, parades and trail rides.

                                It is a shame that the "big Lick" people still have a death grip on the walking horse shows down South, and that most FOSH and NWHA sponsored shows are all in the midwest, northeast and Kentucky.

                                But I couldn't even show any of my walkers today if I wanted to, because none of them have current registration papers-- I, too, quit paying to help finance what I consider to be a morally corrupt breed organization that continues to turn a blind eye to cruel, unnatural and just plain crooked training tricks that produce an obscenely fake gait in what has to be one of the most ill-used breeds of horses in this country.

                                I'm glad when I read that the USDA is coming down on them harder at inspections. I laugh when I think how they couldn't even crown a WGC "performance" hose a few years ago because most of the contenders were not sound enough to get past inspection. I am gleeful when I hear that there isn't a market for those pacey-going freaky poor examples of walkers those trainers, and the rest of their supporters try to foist off on unsuspecting newbies. I'm glad Mr. Irby is so worried, but disgusted that he, and many others in that breed association, are still "drinking the kool aide" while their horses continue to suffer abuse so they can look so freaky stupid in the show ring.

                                If they are having to "just sell horses among themelves"," this may mean that people are finally getting wise to the "game" the good ole boys from middle Tennessee and their hangers-on have been running since the late 1950s. And this makes me very happy, and gives me hope for the future of the Walking Horse breed

                                Proud owner of four naturally gaited Walking Horses or Plantation Horses -- none of them currently TWHBEA registered
                                Laissez les bons temps rouler!
                                Elysian Fields Farm--
                                --An equine refuge


                                • #17
                                  Interesting video showing the evolution of the padded horse. The first three have natural, square gaits. After that, you can see the horses becoming pacey as they start to step higher and squat down.


                                  Hope the link works.

                                  In memory of Apache, who loved to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjZAqeg7HyE


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Malda View Post
                                    everyone wanted to move like Talk of the Town..hell, he won three times,who don't like winning...? only liars would say they did'nt

                                    but you wanna hear something crazy? he had no descendants so all the others had their gaits "adjusted" to match his...the tidy clean gaits of the first few decades were erased in that short three year span of time....

                                    and for the sake of clarity in a previous post I say 20 "well attended funerals"

                                    Tamara in TN
                                    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                                    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


                                    • #19
                                      When I bought my first Walker, I tranfered the papers and paid the ridiculous price to belong to TWHBEA for a year. My DH looked at the magazine that showed up and said "What the H#%$ is that?" Then I showed him the videos.....

                                      The next TWH I bought, I have not even registered because I don't want to give them my money. They are overpriced to start, and even at a reasonable price, I don't want to support them.

                                      I LOVE the TWH and will most likely own many more....wish there was a way to support the breed without supporting TWHBEA.
                                      Turn off the computer and go ride!


                                      • #20
                                        How do you support the breed but not the official breed association??

                                        foggy bok said
                                        I LOVE the TWH and will most likely own many more....wish there was a way to support the breed without supporting TWHBEA.
                                        I couldn't agree more--That is the thing that is needed-- but so far no one has succeeded in doing that. There have been various efforts in the past, but so far only the National Walking Horse Association and FOSH seem to be having any success. And the NWHA's success is blunted (IMHO) by their allowing the cross registry of horses in both their registery and the TWHBEA. But NWHA did gain some success in the matter of who actually "owns" a horse's pedigree. The TWHBEA did try to stop them from registering horses that already had TWHBEA registration papers -- and failed.

                                        There have even been several attempts to "reform" the TWBEA from within that involved lots of nasty counter- tactics and suits and counter suits as well as proxy fights at the annual meetings. It is all in the books about the history of the breed by Greene and Womack.

                                        One group from the 1970s that tried to clean up the industry was the Walking Horse Owners Association. It never did try to start a registry. It did try to affiliate and sanction shows. It even started its own BIG show to compete with the Celebration-- the International. It was formed at first to combat soring and cheating, but soon it came to be controlled by the same trainers-breeders-judges that were part of what WHOA had been formed to combat-- and WHOA stopped speaking out about the soring and started defending it or just not talking about it like it didn't exist.

                                        There have been several attempts to form various registeries throughout the years, many by people who opposed all the gimmicks of the big lick people. Some of these are The Plantation Horse Registry of America, The American Plantation Horse Registery, and even the Racking Horse Association of America. There are a few more, but none had the success of the Racking Association or the National Walking Horse Association have had.

                                        There have been two main methods as far as I can see that are used by the "TWH show mafia" to "hush" those groups who speak out about soring-- one is to join and "take over" the new group as was done with WHOA-- the other is to ignore and shun those who oppose soring and thus minimize their impact in the heart of TWH territory and at the all-important Celebration-- examples of groups this method has been used against are PWHAT and FOSH.

                                        Right now these groups are coming up against what is one of the biggest hurdles-- getting enough shows to affiliate with them instead of the TWHBEA-sponsored show sanctioning group -- I don't even know what that one is called any more, but it used to be the NHSRC or NSHRC.

                                        Unfortunately the "money people" are all in bed with the show people because that is where the money is to be made-- and money people like to keep making money. I have never heard of a trail rider paying say $10,000 to get a trail horse-- but lots of people will pay that and more for a show horse.

                                        I guess the worse thing that probably happened to the walking horse was the show circuit.

                                        What many people don't realize is that the "type" of horse-- one that would do a running walk-- was around waaay before the boys from middle Tennessee got control with their registry in the mid-1930s. Many of these horses had a Morgan background or a Standardbred background, or a combination. They were bred throughout the states of the old Confederacy and Kentucky -- a horse breeding state of long standing. These places were mainly agricultural states before and after the War.

                                        According to Greene and/or Womack-- -- the first horse recognized as doing what has become called the running walk was a horse named Bald Stockings-- and he was around in the 1830s -- 100 years before the TWHBEA was even formed.

                                        But after the Tennessee Walking Horse "mafia" got control of these horses by founding a registry and sponsoring their own major show for the breed-- the Celebration-- they and a few like-minded big money people --have decided what was to be acceptable and sought after because of the nexus of trainers-breeders-judges-TWHBEA officers and board and Celebration board members.

                                        Those of us who value the old-time traditional walking horses can only hope that finally the coalition formed by show interests and the TWHBEA is imploding because there has finally been enough publicity (made possible in large part by the Internet) and USDA pressure that new people are not being easily recruited into the big lick ranks as in the past.

                                        If they can't sell their freaky fake pacy-going inflated price horses to enough people-- then they will not be able to maintain control as they have in the past.

                                        Sorry I went on for so long. But I have ridden and owned walkers since the 1950s, and I really would like to see this breed delivered from the chains and pads before I die.
                                        Laissez les bons temps rouler!
                                        Elysian Fields Farm--
                                        --An equine refuge