"Today, Tennessee Walking Horses are known throughout the industry
as the breed that shows abused and tortured horses."

~ Jim Heird, Ph.D., Do Right By The Horse, February 2010

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity,
you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."

~ St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

NEWS - Earl's at it again: Accounting requested for walking horse funds

I can't find the associated article link online, so I have posted the article here. If anyone finds the link, please let me know so I can include it.

One thing I'd like to point out here: note that Earl is the President of KWHA, while Gary Oliver, our admitted sore-horse "trainer," is the VP of KWHA. I don't think there's a coincidence that this information is now coming to light.


Accounting requested for walking horse funds
By Janet Patton jpatton1@herald-leader.com

Earl Rogers letter on Gary Oliver to Horse Racing Commission
Signed statement from Earl Rogers in response to USDA questions
The July 1, 2008 letter from20USDA to Earl Rogers

Kentucky regulators have asked a walking horse group to show that members who received money from a state fund have not violated a federal law ensuring that horses aren't mistreated.

Jamie Eads, director of the breeders' incentive funds for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, asked officials with the Kentucky Walking Horse Association to provide letters "stating that to the best of their knowledge they have not been distributing money to individuals who had USDA violations."

Blair Knight, director of the Kentucky Walking Horse Breeders Incentive Fund, submitted a letter stating: "As of our knowledge there has never been any participants in the Kentucky Walking Horse Breeders Incentive Fund receive any funding that was on any USDA suspension." Knight has not returned calls for comment.

Earl Rogers Jr., president of the KWHA, stated that his group "is merely an organization that administers a high-point program for its members, and holds the annual state championship horse show (The Kentucky Walking Horse Celebration). The KWHA has no input into the decision of the Breeders' Fund."

However, more than a dozen recipients or their family members appear to have had violations since the fund began, according to data compiled by the Friends of Sound Horses, an anti-soring advocacy group.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture referred both the state and the Herald-Leader to FOSH to check for suspensions.

Rogers told the Herald-Leader that he does not consider "technical violations," such as those for scars on a horse's feet, failure to have a horse inspected or only one sore leg, to count. Those violations usually result in a two-week suspension.

"The only ones that would count in my opinion would be bilateral (sore in both legs), eight-month suspensions, " Rogers said. "It matters, but not to the breeders' incentive fund." Asked if he thought the state would make a similar distinction, Rogers said: "That's up to the state."

Rogers would not comment further and hung up.

Tennessee Walking Horses have been the subject of increased scrutiny recently from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which enforces the Horse Protection Act. The federal law is designed to protect walking horses from the abusive practices of "soring," which involves deliberately injuring horses' feet through mechanical or chemical means to force an exaggerated gait known as "The Big Lick."

The Kentucky Walking Horse Association, along with other non-racing breeds, is up for renewal of its incentive fund qualification.

More than $700,000 in state tax money has been distributed to KWHA members in the last two years.

Eads said she is checking records provided by the KWHA for violations by incentive fund recipients.

She said she will take her findings to the fund committee, which will present any potential action to20the full racing commission for consideration. The fund committee meets at 2 p.m. Wednesday to discuss a separate recipient breed, the mountain horses.

Rogers, the KWHA president, received a warning in July from the USDA after an investigation into his actions at the 2006 Owingsville Lions Club Walking Horse Show.

Eads said she was unaware of the USDA investigation, and that Rogers was not on the list provided by the KWHA.

Rogers received $4,690 from the fund for 2007, according to racing commission records.

Also a concern, Eads said, is KWHA Vice President Gary Oliver, who was implicated in the death of a walking horse in his care in 2004. The USDA is looking into whether Oliver can be charged under the Horse Protection Act but has not taken any action. Oliver admitted in trial testimony last year to using banned substances on the horse's feet.

Eads said the KWHA has indicated that the board does not have the votes to force Oliver out but has asked him to resign. "If he chooses not to, that will be something that has to be addressed," Eads said.

The state breeders' incentive fund is administered by the racing commission. The money comes from the sales tax on stud fees on all breeds. Nine non-race breeds split $1.3 million in 2007, compared with $15 million for Thoroughbreds. The funds are designed to encourage horse breeders to come and stay in the state by giving incentives for horses bred by Ken tucky stallions from mares living in Kentucky.

All walking horse incentives are funneled through the Kentucky Walking Horse Association, which was selected as an affiliate when the state fund was formed in 2005.

In 2006, the walking horse fund got $320,103; in 2007, it got $387,506.

Competitors often refuse to show their horses if USDA vets are doing the inspections rather than paid industry investigators.

At least twice this year — at KWHA-sanctioned shows in Owingsville and in Prestonsburg — horses have been withdrawn when federal inspectors arrived.

Rogers, who runs the Owingsville show, has said that competitors leave because they do not want to risk violations from the USDA, which they consider to be unfair and inconsistent in its Horse Protection Act enforcement.

USDA inspections and those done by paid show inspections should be the same. But competitors are much more wary of the USDA vets, with good reason.

According to the Friends of Sound Horses, the anti-soring group, USDA vets found 90 times the violations that KWHA inspectors found at their sanctioned shows in 2007.

Although Rogers said the KWHA has no control over how the fund money is distributed, the system was designed by the KWHA, which also set up the breeders' fund affiliate.

Horses can earn points toward incentives only in KWHA-sanctioned horse shows in Kentucky. And only KWHA members can earn ince ntive money.

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