"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

Monday, November 3, 2008

THOUGHTS - The NHSC Restructuring, Or Lack Thereof

This post is in response to the article about the NHSC restructuring, posted here.

Okay, so let's talk. What did we just read? We just read an article about a meeting where people are just trying to pretend they're going to make changes when really they're just going to rearrange things to make it LOOK like changes have happened, but it'll be business as usual. Let's take a look at the details, shall we?

Dr. John Bennett made the presentation of those findings and had his plan unanimously approved by the NHSC Board of Directors.

Of course it was, because these are all people who don't want to change what's going on, so of course they love what Bennett said.

Tasked with carrying out this policy will be a chief executive officer (CEO) who will work between the policy board and the executive board. The executive board will be made up of a collection of owners and trainers and work just as the NHSC board does today.

WOW, there they are: actually admitting to the fact that things won't change! AMAZING!

Bennett then presented the “boards” that will make up the inside of the house and function within the structure of the HIO. He started with technology and the importance it has with the inspection process. He mentioned digital radiology, thermography and micro-chipping as all important pieces of technology that need to be researched and implemented over time.

WHAT? The USDA VMOs have already implemented this in the shows they go to. The research is already being done. Why do they need to do their own research and implement it "over time?" How about you all step up and start using it NOW. Oh wait, you don't want to do that--then you might actually expose more sore horses. Oops!

Second on the list was a hearing committee. “If you are going to have penalties, there needs to be a method for those accused to have a fair hearing,” Bennett stated. “I believe everyone has the right to a fair and impartial hearing,” he concluded.

I actually agree with this because other horse venues do it: NATRC, USEF, etc. Problem is that we all know it won't be fair and impartial--the hearings will mostly conveniently see the people as innocent and let people continue to get away with soring.

A fourth element would be industry veterinarians who work in the industry on a daily basis and can function like a medical board. They can help with the drugs that are being used and what levels are acceptable and why they are being used as well as provide insight for which foreign substances can be used without harm to the horse. Bennett pointed out that certain groups will never be satisfied with what goes on in the show industry, but respected industry groups will be on board with this plan.

Um, the USDA has already done this: they have deemed that anything except glycerin, mineral oil and petroletum. You can't just choose to go against the HPA, Bennett.

Nope, "certain groups" will never be happy with what you guys do, because those "certain groups" know you are continuing to allow soring! And what groups are you saying are respected? Respected by whom? You? The NHSC? I guarantee you it won't be by the general public, the USEF, or any other group who views the industry as what it truly is: CORRUPT.

The fifth element was a trainers licensing and continuing education program. Continuing education could be anything from business management to scar rule interpretation. With a licensing program trainers that were repeat offenders would see their licenses revoked or some training offered to get those trainers in compliance.

HUH?? How in the hell would business management help with training? And why do you need a licensing program to get licenses revoked? You can choose to do that now if you were serious about ending soring.

Research was another element to the plan. Bennett couldn’t stress enough the importance of research and how it can help with public perception and with allowing the AAEP to continue to work with the industry. “With the AAEP on our side, it will help when we go to the USDA,” stated Bennett.

What kind of research? You don't point out anything here. Plus, how can we trust any research that's done to figure out anything about soring when the sore horse industry is doing the research? And honey, only if you make progress will the AAEP be on your side. You'd better be prepared to do it.

A ninth element was rules/penalties and judges evaluations. Bennett mentioned he didn’t know exactly how to evaluate the judges best but that he had heard many good ideas for this.

And what are they? WHY won't you tell us what ideas you've heard?

Tenth was regional veterinarians. These regional veterinarians would be tasked with overseeing the Designated Qualified Person (DQP) program and the individual performances of those DQPs. He didn’t think it was feasible for every DQP to be a veterinarian but did stress the importance of the consistency of the program and accountability of the program.

Of course you don't want every DQP to be a vet--then they'd expose the industry for what it is. Plus this is one of the ideas in the AAEP White Paper that is guaranteed to help stop soring, so be sure to skirt around this issue as much as possible.

After finishing the presentation Bennett took questions from those in attendance about the proposed plan. Mark Farrar asked “ was there was anything in the white paper that the task force didn’t agree with?” Bennett responded with all of the items in the white paper were valid but not all were practical. He specifically mentioned the urine testing, licensed veterinarians checking all horses and pulling of shoes on performance horses.

NOTE: These are the actions/changes that are guaranteed to determine if a horse is sore or not. So it's pretty damn obvious why they say they're not "practical."

He noted all of the objectives of these could be achieved however through technology or programs within the plan presented.

Sure, they can, if it wouldn't just be business as usual with those programs.\

Farrar also asked, “If we adopt this plan have you talked with the USDA and the AAEP and will they be on board with this plan?” Bennett responded, “Yes and the AAEP will get on board and will be waiting for us to ask for help.”

But we know you won't be asking for help. You know why? Because you'll be glad to keep it so the sore horse continues to win and you continue to get money to line your pockets. You don't need the AAEP to keep the status quo, that's for sure.

Bob Ramsbottom asked, “How will we fund this plan. Will this be left up to the owners to fund this?” Bennett relayed that he didn’t know exactly how to fund the plan and that he had thought a lot about that, “but to be honest, I don’t really know how to fund it.” Frank Neal interjected, “they were tasked with coming up with the plan, it is now the task of the groups within the industry, WHOA, TWHBEA, WHTA, and the Celebration, etc. to fund the execution of this plan.”

I agree with this as well. Neal is absolutely right. You have all decided it's okay to add $1 to each entry fee to implement the USEF drug testing program--how come you can't do that to implement other plans? Because you need to claim that you don't have the money to put into it so you don't ever implement it. Simple way to keep it business as usual.

Overall, this is all just crap. It's just a front to keep things business as usual. None of the serious issues are going to change because they'll just continue to avoid the three main actions that WILL catch sorers (pulling shoes, only using vets as DQPs), not make judges accountable for their choices in the show ring, and not force the industry to pay for these changes. This is pathetic. I can only hope that the USDA will work towards outlawing stacks, heavy shoes, bands, and pads on horses in the show ring in general. That's the only way this can stop--to force the industry to change. It's been 38 years since the HPA became a Federal law--it's obvious they are not going to change their ways on their own.

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