The USDA is out in force and working hard, and perhaps something is going to break free. Let's hope it's the horses and that they break free of the chains and contraptions that are ruining this breed. There seems to be a light at the end of this very black and bleak tunnel.
Marshall County Tribune: Story:
Let the horses talk: USDA draws a line in the sand
Friday, March 13, 2009 - By Tom Sumners - www.marshalltribune.com
In what could be a pivotal year for the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, optimism could turn to pessimism. The United States Department of Agriculture has implemented changes in the way the Horse Protection Act will be enforced for the 2009 season. Several meetings have been held since the first of the year to explain the changes.
One of the most notable changes is that no saddle or tail brace may be on the horse when coming to the inspection area. Horses may be subject to looking into their mouths and under their tails for foreign objects or distractions. The inspectors (Veterinary Medical Officers or VMOs) will also have the authority to have shoes pulled for further diagnosis when a farrier is available, and hoof testers may be used on flat-shod and padded horses. Also, there will be inspections of the warm-up ring, barns, horse trailers, and so forth.
The National Horse Show Commission inspectors (Designated Qualified Persons or DQPs) will not be permitted to inspect a horse owned by a member of the DQP's immediate family or owned by a DQP's employer.
The VMO and DQP inspectors will always be allowed to carry out their duties with limitations. An area of contention for several years has been the interpretation of the scar rule. Another clinic is to be held in the near future to discuss this in more detail.
With this being said, the Walking Horse Trainers' Association (WHTA) Board of Directors has recommended that the National Horse Show Commission (NHSC) be removed as its Horse Industry Organization (HIO) and ask the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration to implement their HIO, which is called SHOW, to assume the NHSC's function.
This decision was made after two days of meetings focusing on the best strategy to move the walking horse industry forward. The Celebration will take this under advisement. The NHSC is made up of an eight-person board consisting of four WHTA representatives and four from the Walking Horse Owners Association (WHOA). A special called meeting of the membership of the WHTA was held on Monday, March 9, and approved the board's recommendation to leave the NHSC. In so doing, the WHTA board of directors voted to reschedule the upcoming Trainers' show at a later date.
There will be a transition period to get the new HIO operational. This will make a more independent HIO and remove the stigma of conflicts of interest that has existed for many years. Evidently, the USDA has not been pleased with self-enforcement of the industry. With that said and done, the USDA has drawn a line in the sand to let everyone know enforcement of the Horse Protection Act will take place and that the welfare of the horse is first and foremost on their agenda. LET THE HORSES TALK