Urge MTSU Women's Basketball, Coach Insell to Resign from Celebration's Board of Directors

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Urge Middle Tennessee State University Women’s Basketball Coach, Rick Insell, to resign from the Celebration Board of Directors

The intentional infliction of pain to the legs or hooves of Tennessee Walking Horses and related breeds, in order to force the horse to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait is known as soring. This deliberate abuse has plagued our beautiful state of Tennessee for more than a half century, and even with the passage of federal legislation against it, the performance faction of the Walking Horse industry continues to reward its participants for the pain-based gait known as the “Big Lick” at their shows like the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration held annually in Shelbyville.

At the Celebration, the federal agency in charge of inspecting horses for violations of the Horse Protection Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has routinely found evidence indicating the occurrence of this cruelty,.  This is exemplified by the results of tests conducted by the agency to find the presence of prohibited foreign substances used on horses’ legs to sore them, mask their pain or camouflage the physical damage caused by soring. These test results from the previous three years alone have yielded positive rates for prohibited substances of 87.5%, 89.5%, and 61.86% in 2015, 2016, and 2017 respectively.  
So widespread is soring in the upper echelons of the Walking Horse world that the riders of everyhorse exhibited this year in the Celebration’s World Grand Championship class have been cited numerous times for violations of the Horse Protection Act – yet they have been able to avoid meaningful penalties and continue to participate with great success in the industry’s top competitions.

Most disturbingly, Middle Tennessee State University’s most accomplished women’s basketball coach, Rick Insell, currently sits on the Celebration’s Board of Directors, and has for many years. How can a recent Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and leader of impressionable young athletes be so closely associated with an event that enables and rewards illegal animal cruelty?

Please stand against the abuse of soring by signing the petition asking that Coach Insell step down from his role with the Celebration, and that he and Middle Tennessee State University both sever their ties to this cruel industry.