Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, II Recognizes American Horseman and Animal Advocate Marty Irby

Windsor, United Kingdom – In August, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, II recognized lifelong horseman and Animal Wellness Action executive director Marty Irby “for his extraordinary efforts to reduce violence in the training of horses by adopting Monty Roberts’ concepts and initiatives.” Irby, a former 8-time world champion equestrian and past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association, was awarded a certificate of recognition, dated August 3, 2020, from Her Majesty via Royal Mail directly from Windsor Castle.

Only the second occasion in history that the British Crown has awarded certificates for equine protection work, Irby’s recognition follows the acknowledgment of eight horsemen and women the Queen recognized in 2012. The Royal Family planned to recognize Irby in-person at Buckingham Palace, but the gathering and in-person presentation were postponed to a later date due to world events surrounding 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.”

Irby first came to know and work with Monty Roberts in 2005 at Waterfall Farms, where Irby served as Director of Sales and Marketing. As a result of the influence of Queen Elizabeth II, Roberts began  teaching Join-Up methods of natural horsemanship to Irby and his mentor, the late William B. Johnson, founder of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC. The goal was to bring Roberts’ principles of non-violent training and horsemanship to the walking horse industry and eradicate the painful practice of “soring,” 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.”

For the past fifteen years, Irby has worked to transition the Tennessee Walking horse breed away from its painful past of soring. 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.

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. He has worked to advance the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act that would permanently end horse slaughter on American soil. He has helped to provide funding for the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs’ equine-assisted therapy program to help our veterans with PTSD, and he has worked to help save the 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. Irby resides in Washington, D.C., serves on the board of directors for Equine Collaborative International, LLC, the Organization for Competitive Markets, and the American Horse Protection Society, and his written articles on equine protection have been published in dozens of outlets across the U.S.

Photo cutline: Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, II Recognizes Marty Irby | Photo: Craig Swanson Design

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