Report: Abuse pushes Pepsi to pull sponsorship of Walking Horse Celebration

Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 11:41am
Staff reports

Pepsi has pulled its sponsorship of the annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville after an ABC News investigation revealed evidence of widespread animal abuse tied to the event.

Last night, ABC News's Nightline show aired an undercover video obtained by the Humane Society of the United States that showed prominent walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell beating horses with sticks and electric cattle rods.

McConnell is also seen applying chemicals to horses' feet in order to improve their gait — an outlawed practice known as “soring.”

The video led to a federal indictment of McConnell earlier this year.

ABC News reported today that Pepsi dropped its sponsorship of the 11-day walking horse celebration, which draws thousands of visitors to Shelbyville.

This year's walking horse celebration is scheduled for Aug. 22-Sept. 1.

11 Comments on this post:

By: bhudgins on 5/17/12 at 10:09

Goof for Pepsi. But how about a general boycott of the event entirely?

By: donsan on 5/17/12 at 12:20

You will not find a trainer who will admit to soring. They think if they keep saying they don't do that people will agree with them. Pepsi will get their attention by hitting the pocketbook. That's the only thing that will get their attention. The idea about boycott is good too.

By: JeffF on 5/17/12 at 1:09

I think it would be best for everyone if the Celebration just died. Then Shelbyville can fall back on its real primary industry of acquiring and training Mexicans and North African refugees to choke and pluck chickens for Perdue and Tyson.

By: Rasputin72 on 5/17/12 at 3:07

I feel that Pepsi did an honorable and correct thing. My family has been associated with Walking horses for as long as I can remember. I have learned one thing. Becoming a walking horse does not come from genetics it comes from fear and pain.

By: Wingflyer2 on 5/17/12 at 8:45

I'm very pleased and proud of Pepsi 's decision to pull their corporate sponsorship from the annual " TN Walking  Horse Celebration" in Shelbyville, TN . I have been a longtime resident  and have never found a reason to " celebrate" the abuse and torture of such lovely animals. Although each equine discipline has their share of bad apples, the walking horse/gaited community is by far one of the most notorious for its barbaric practices in the name of "sport". I have always thought it ironic that the breed was named " walking horse" as many of the horses in that show industry/training program can hardly stand and are usually crippled  and maimed for life.

While I recognize that the Shelbyville community and otherwise responsible horse owners/ trainers will suffer as a result of not having Pepsi as a sponsor, it may pressure all those law  abiding and responsible   horse owners/trainers  to "police" eachother and treat everyone as guilty until  proven innocent in this out of control situation!

A big thank you to the HSUS for bringing  a sad reality to light  once again. Im sure it was not easy to gather evidence and be a part of such an atrocity. Again, thank you to Pepsi for being brave enough to take a stand and withdraw corporate sponsorship for this event. Pepsi has shown some corporate responsibility on their part. I have always been a coca-cola girl myself but I think I may give Pepsi another try! And for what it's worth,  Pepsi stock just went up in my book!

By: bfra on 5/18/12 at 1:10

Rasputin - Becoming a walking horse does not come from genetics it comes from fear and pain.
What do you think a walking horse comes from? It is the genetics. Walking horses are a breed, they are born to have a natural walking gait. The abuse comes, when the training & showing starts.

Thanks Pepsi! I wish all other sponsors would follow suit.

By: treehugger7 on 5/18/12 at 6:12

Good point, JeffF! I've always thought this was animal abuse. You nailed it on the town and population!

By: Moonglow1 on 5/18/12 at 7:36

Moonglow1: Kudos to Pepsi for taking a stand. Any company that takes a stand against an injustice is very positive. Lately there are so few companies in this category.
To JeffF-thank you for the info on corporate farms (Tysons & Purdue) operating in Shelbyville. Consumers need to follow Pepsi's lead-pull your support of corporate food practices including using illegal immigrants by voting your pocketbook. Don't buy their products. Eat organic or buy from local farmers.

By: JasonW12South on 5/18/12 at 9:59

Why is everyone congratulating Pepsi? They're just doing what any big corporation would do in this situation: protecting their bottom line in the face of a public relations nightmare. If the animal abuse in this sport is so notorious and widespread, what took Pepsi so long to make this move? They waited to pull their sponsorship until AFTER a federal indictment of a major trainer and a national news story about the abuse. Shame on them. The real kudos go to the Human Society for their investigation, and to ABC News for airing the results!

By: yucchhii on 5/18/12 at 11:55

I REALLY BELIEVE VERY STRONGLY that the trainers should get beat the same way they beat the animals!! Now, this is talking about the "TRAINERS" about the "OWNERS?" What is THEIR posittion on this, are they in on it too? Who are the owners..they also need to be responsible for this as well!!

By: Clouddancer on 5/20/12 at 1:52

More sponcers need to pull out, Purity Ice cream and the Ford truck company who has trucks there every year, Schools should not shut down for two weeks to let children be around this to fund raise by selling ice cream and popcorn. The school systmen sees $$$$ too so they want to get in on it and I bet you the Schoo board is all aware of this going on, as a matter of fact I know people on the school board who are in bed with these trainers. To show children that the Celbrartion is a fair horse show is a lie.

Spades Cloud Dancer has re located far far away from this lying cheating abuse going on around him.