Op-Ed: Let’s Get A Law — Pass Amended U.S. Senator Joseph Tydings Memorial PAST Act

Clant Seay offers his support for the amended U.S. Senator Joseph Tydings Memorial PAST Act.

By Clant M. Seay

I support the bipartisan compromise bill that amends and arguably makes improvements to the U.S. Senator Joseph Tydings Memorial PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act passed by the United States House of Representatives in an historic landslide vote of 333 to 96 on July 25, 2019. 

CCABLAC Advocates at Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration on August 22, 2019. Photo courtesy of BillyGoBoy.com.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his allies won’t allow a vote on the Tydings Memorial PAST ACT (H.R. 693), and he’s just been elected to a six-year term ending in 2027. He will, however, support a bipartisan compromise measure – negotiated by leading animal protection advocates and also leaders in the Walking Horse business — that will remove the nearly EIGHT POUND STACK SHOES and barbaric “chains” necessary to create the Big Lick gait.

Gen’s Ice Glimmer nearly eight pound STACK SHOES & CHAINS – National Press Club at Washington, D. C. on January 15, 2019. Photo courtesy of BillyGoBoy.com.

In place of the current Big Lick torture devices, there will be front shoe packages comparable to those used by American Saddlebreds which will measure 1.5 inches at the toe and 2.5 inches at the heel.

The compromise bill will further provide:

  • Removable front shoe packages that will allow for inspection of the bottom (sole) of the hoof to be sure that horses are not pressure shod in order to obtain a high stepping gait.
  • Digital palpation of all Big Lick Tennessee Walking Horses.
  • Ban metal bands to attach the shoe to the foot.
  • Provide for felony penalties for horse soring – inflicting pain upon Tennessee Walking Horses to obtain the Big Lick gait.
  • Allow for implementation of NASEM (National Academy of Science) study results, and further enabling USDA veterinarians to use innovative, science-based testing methods that might be identified in the future to detect soring.
  • Increase U. S. Treasury funding of enforcement of anti-horse soring law from $500,000 to $4 million.

I founded the grassroots Citizens Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty (CCABLAC) to Tennessee Walking Horses in late February 2015. It now represents nearly one million persons in America and throughout the world who have signed Change.Org Petitions to end Big Lick animal cruelty to Tennessee Walking Horses.

During the past five years, our CCABLAC advocates have peacefully assembled throughout the Southeastern United States and protested against the Big Lick animal cruelty. Videos we have obtained and placed on social media have now been viewed more than 75 million times. One video – “Here’s What ‘Soring’ Does To Horses” – has now been seen almost 17 million times.

My Sources Of Inspiration:

  • S. Senator Joe Tydings (D-MD) was my close friend, author of the Horse Protection Act of 1970. When he passed on October 8, 2018, I attended his Memorial Service at the University of Maryland on Nov. 10, 2018. Following the service, I met two of Senator Tydings’s lifelong friends. One was House Speaker Designate Ms. Nancy Pelosi, and the other was House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). Both said they would support me in seeing Senator Tydings’s vision come true to amend the Horse Protection Act and to seek justice for the long-suffering Tennessee Walking Horses.
  • Gen’s Ice Glimmer – On July 28, 2015, I got a call from Ms. Tawnee Preisner, founder of Horse Plus Humane Society of Hohenwald, TN, who was at an auction sale in Cookeville, TN. She told me that a beautiful Tennessee Walking Horse was about to be bid on by killer buyers and would certainly go to slaughter in Mexico. We immediately partnered and bought Gen’s Ice Glimmer. Here is the picture of Glimmer’s feet she sent me that day. As a champion Big Lick Tennessee Walking Show Horse, Gen’s Ice Glimmer, TWHBEA #24704770, was shown more than 40 times over nine years in five states.

Scarred front feet of Gen’s Ice Glimmer, TWHBEA #24704770, at auction sale on July 28, 2015. Photo courtesy of BillyGoBoy.com.

Clant M. Seay with Gen’s Ice Glimmer, victim of Big Lick animal cruelty. Photo courtesy of BillyGoBoy.com.

The bottom line is that despite the protection afforded by Senate Majority Leader McConnell, the grassroots advocacy of WE, The People – CCABLAC brought the Big Lick interests back to the table in late 2020.

Empty stands at Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration on Friday, September 4, 2020. Photo courtesy of BillyGoBoy.com.

When I attended the Memorial Service for Senator Tydings at College Park, MD, on Saturday, November 10, 2018, I left inspired. I decided that I would lead the effort to obtain a vote on the PAST ACT and see it enacted into law. The next day I reached out to Mr. Marty Irby, executive director of the Animal Wellness Action, and we met in Washington, D. C., and together envisioned the U. S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial PAST ACT. I contacted and obtained the support of the late Senator’s family, and then Senator Tydings’s eldest grandson, Mr. Ben Tydings Smith, Marty Irby and I met with incoming House leadership on December 18, 2018.

On January 15, 2019, CCABLAC held a symposium at the National Press Club in Washington, D. C. to honor the late Senator Tydings and make plans to pass the PAST ACT. All animal welfare groups were invited to attend. Ms. Priscilla Presley was presented CCABLAC Horsewoman of the Year Award, and U. S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) provided keynote remarks.

On January 22, 2019, the U. S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings PAST Act was introduced by U. S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and U. S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL).

We reached 290 co-sponsors in May 2019, and the historic vote was held on July 25, 2019. The podium at the PAST ACT Press Conference on July 24, 2019, featured the nearly EIGHT POUND STACK SHOES and CHAINS there were once worn by Gen’s Ice Glimmer.

On the night of the floor debate in the United States House of Representatives on July 25, 2019, bill co-sponsor large animal vet Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) held up the nearly EIGHT POUND STACK SHOE removed from Gen’s Ice Glimmer and said, “The bottom line is you are either for animal cruelty, or you are against it.”

Since 2012, I have watched my friends with the Humane Society of the United States, and other outside animal welfare groups, consistently fail at obtaining a vote on the PAST ACT to end the Big Lick animal cruelty to Tennessee Walking Horses.

My observation is these groups are often conflicted, have varied interests and their priorities change from year to year. The verdict is that they have no workable plan to ensure the welfare of Tennessee Walking Horses, and they have failed time after time in their efforts to obtain a law to protect them.

Now, we finally have a bill passed by the U. S. House, and legislators have negotiated a progressive reasonable compromise PAST ACT statute (that is how laws are made), yet people object to It because it is not perfect.

I am here to tell you that laws are never perfect. That is why once they are passed, they can continue to be improved and implemented by regulations and amendments.

In the opinion I expressed in this video, the bipartisan compromise PAST ACT bill, despite its imperfections, is by far the best path forward for the welfare of Tennessee Walking horses. It will be a crying shame if this opportunity is lost, and it does not become law, and the horses continue to suffer.

Clant M. Seay. Photo courtesy of BillyGoBoy.com.