Target: Marty Irby
Goal: Commend animal rights supporter for advocating for the welfare of Tennessee Walking Horses.
Animal welfare advocate Marty Irby received threatening phone calls after he testified on Capitol Hill about the horrific abuses Tennessee Walking Horses are subjected to. These horses are known for their high stepping gait called the “big lick,” a gait that is unnatural to them. Recently, testimonials and video footage have uncovered the use of soring, where horse trainers place harsh chemicals upon the horse’s hooves, wrap them in plastic, and then weigh the hooves down with chains. This technique forces the horses to adopt the characteristic gait.
Not even a day after Irby gave his testimony, he received threats from a former childhood friend and Tennessee Walking Horse trainer named Chip Weddington, over Facebook. “I don’t associate myself with b***h made mother f*****s who sing like little f*****g birds to the f*****g [Humane Society of the United States] and everybody else … I hope your gay a** gets what’s coming to you soon!!!” If Irby ever approached him, Weddington said he would “knock ur a** smooth out!!!” Weddington was suspended from the Tennessee Walking Horse shows for a year, after inspectors found that he violated the Horse Protection Act by practicing soring on his horses.
Irby testified that the act of soring is a widespread problem among those who have Tennessee Walking Horses. A former competitor and champion of the show himself, Irby became disgusted by the cruel abuse inflicted upon the horses. By becoming an advocate for the horses, Irby has lost his marriage, his contracting business, friends, and is no longer on speaking terms with his father. Irby is hoping that the industry will no longer be self regulated, which allows this abuse to continue. Lawmakers are working on a bill to require licensed inspectors, who have no ties to the industry, to perform examinations upon horses. Commend this man for standing up to the rights of horses in the face of adversity.
Dear Marty Irby,
I wish to thank you for standing up for the rights of Tennessee Walking Horses by testifying at Capitol Hill. I realize that because of your testimony, you have been threatened by a childhood friend. I ask that you do not let such threats get in the way of doing the right thing for these horses. I am grateful that someone within the industry realizes the harm in soring, and doesn’t allow it to continue merely because of profits.
I hope new legislation will halt this abusive practice and ensure that these horses are treated with respect and love. I also hope you will do everything in your power to pass this legislation, as these horses’ only advocates are us humans.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Farli Trantorian via flickr