MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT) -- An unlikely partner is sponsoring a Tennessee walking horse show that opens in Middle Tennessee Thursday.
The Humane Society of the United States has signed on as a corporate sponsor for the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association “World Versatility Championship” being held through Sunday at Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro.
The Humane Society is a vocal critic of the walking horse industry. In 2011, the Society recorded undercover video of top walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell abusing horses at a West Tennessee stable. The video led to federal and state abuse convictions for McConnell and his assistants.
Society spokesman Keith Dane says this walking horse show is different.
“It’s not all about animation and artificiality as you have with the ‘big-lick’ horse. It’s more about showing off and show-casing the natural gate of the horse, their temperaments, and how ideal they are for a variety of jobs. We fully support that exhibition and want to see it thrive and continue.”
Dane says exhibitors at this show don’t use the chains and weights used by other walking horse groups to achieve the high-stepping gate associated with the breed.