This week's Lexington Junior League Charity Horse Show is at risk of guilt by association.
No less than U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R- Lexington, during a recent meeting with the editorial board, cited the 77-year-old show as an example of our state’s Tennessee walking horse tradition.
“Oh, no, absolutely not,” a staffer at the American Saddlebred Horse Association assured us. The Lexington-based association represents riders and horses now competing at The Red Mile in the world’s largest outdoor Saddlebred show, the first leg of their sport’s triple crown.
The distinction between the breeds is especially relevant now as the barbaric practice of soring comes under fire from the mainstream equine and veterinary worlds and many in Congress.
Unlike walking horses, American Saddlebreds are not routinely subjected to soring and must pass legitimate soundness tests to compete.
If the congressman from the Horse Capital of the World doesn’t know the difference, why wouldn’t the average person assume that all high-stepping horses — indeed, all performance horses — are subject to the same kind of intentional cruelty as Tennessee walking horses?
Even if Barr and some of his fellow Republicans don’t care about the horses, they should care about collateral damage to the image of the horse industry, which employs many Kentuckians and must attract new owners and riders to thrive.