The Trump Administration gave the Tennessee Walking Horse industry some breathing room this week. A regulatory hold stalled a batch of new rules aimed at preventing abuse of the naturally high-stepping breed.
The USDA regulations were made in the final days of the Obama Administration and would ban the heavy stacked shoes and chains necessary to get the highest kicks out of the horses, known as the "big lick."
In Shelbyville, the Walking Horse National Celebration has argued that the pads and chains aren't hurting the horses. CEO Mike Inman says he anticipates making his case during the review period, though he doesn't plan on going directly to President Trump.
"I don't see us doing that. Individuals may," Inman says. "But realistically, that process would start once the new Secretary of Agriculture is confirmed, which hasn't been done yet."
The nominee to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture knows a thing or two about horses and comes from a big walking horse state. Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was a veterinarian before he turned to business and politics.
On the opposing side, the Humane Society of the United States also plans to do some lobbying. They're asking members of Congress who've supported more protections for walking horses — and that includes a number of Republicans — to encourage the Trump Administration to follow through with the new rules.