WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM, Ala. (WBRC) - A lifelong horseman, equestrian and Alabama native was honored in August by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, II for his work to reduce violence in horse training.
Marty Irby is the executive director of Animal Wellness Action. Irby, a native of Mobile, is a graduate of UMS-Wright Preparatory School and the University of South Alabama.
A former 8-time world champion equestrian and past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association, Irby was awarded a certificate of recognition dated August 3, 2020, from Her Majesty via Royal Mail directly from Windsor Castle.
Irby said the Royal Family planned to recognize him in-person at Buckingham Palace, but the gathering and in-person presentation were postponed to a later date because of COVID-19.
“Marty Irby is our hero and has paid a huge price in his own life in the interest of being fair to the horses,” said Monty Roberts, founder of Join-Up International. “Along with thousands of supporters, Her Majesty and I strongly recommend the necessary rules and regulations to eliminate violence from this breed and all other competitions involving the horses we love.”
“I am deeply honored and grateful to Her Majesty, and my friend Monty Roberts for their recognition – working to help the voiceless horses we all care so deeply about has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life,” said Marty Irby, recipient of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, II’s Award. “I am certain that we will one day see the end of soring, doping, slaughter, and the use of whips in racing venues around the globe, and I hope that every horse lover will join me, Monty, and Queen Elizabeth, II in helping eradicate all violence and abuse from the equine world.”
For the past fifteen years, Irby has worked to transition the Tennessee Walking horse breed away from its painful past of soring, much of that time from within the ranks of the breed, and since 2013 he has championed the U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act that would eliminate the use of large stacked shoes and ankle chains integral to the soring process; increase penalties for violators of the Horse Protection Act; and eliminate the breed’s self-policing system, replacing it with inspectors licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Soring is defined as the intentional infliction of pain to Tennessee Walking Horses’ legs and feet by applying caustic chemicals such as mustard oil, croton oil, kerosene, and diesel fuel and inserting sharp objects in the horses’ hooves to create an exaggerated high-stepping gait known as the “big lick.”
Irby has also worked to end the practice of doping American racehorses by pushing for passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act that would ban the use of drugs on race-day; worked to advance the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act that would permanently end horse slaughter on American soil; worked to help provide funding for the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs’ equine-assisted therapy program to help our American heroes with PTSD, and worked to help save our iconic American horses and burros from the Bureau of Land Management’s mass round-ups and incarceration.
Irby testified before the U.S. House of Representatives in support of both the PAST Act in 2013 and Horseracing Integrity Act in 2020 and was recognized as one of The Hill’s Top Lobbyists for 2019 following the passage of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act that was signed into law by President Trump in the Oval Office with Irby present for the ceremony.
Irby his also written works on equine protection.