Here are the results from The Walking Horse Report on the number of HPA violations at this year's Celebration. My comments are after the report.
The 72nd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration concluded on its traditional date of the Saturday before Labor Day in Shelbyville, Tenn. The SHOW HIO was the affiliating HIO of the show for the second consecutive year and the USDA was in attendance each day of the show.
The total number of horses presented for inspection in 2010 was 2,574 as compared to 2,618 in 2009. Pre-show entries were done as compared to last year as well. In 2010, 2,322 horses entered the ring for competition as compared to 2,223 in 2009, an increase of 99 entries in he ring.
SHOW wrote a total of 206 violations with 11 of those being non-HPA violations. Of the HPA violations (195) 170 were pre-show violations and 25 were post show violations. In 2009 SHOW wrote 196 total violations with 18 of those being non-HPA violations. Of the HPA violations (178) 160 were pre-show and 18 were post-show.
Whereas the SHOW violations were very similar in numbers from 2009 to 2010, the USDA violations were drastically different. The USDA took information on 64 violations in 2010 as compared to 405 in 2009, an 84% decline. A major portion of the decrease in violations from the USDA was the scar rule. In 2009 the USDA took information on 223 scar rule violations and in 2010 they took information on 26 scar rule violations. In 2010, SHOW wrote 61 scar rule violations, while in 2009 SHOW 82 wrote scar rule violations, a 25% decline.
Of the 64 violations from the USDA, 37 were pre-show violations and 27 were post-show violations. In total SHOW and USDA wrote 601 violations in 2009 and 270 in 2010, a 55% decline in one year. "Overall we were very happy with the condition of the horses brought before us. The trainers have worked very hard throughout the year to bring compliant horses and this continued during the Celebration. There is still room for improvement and SHOW is committed to working with the industry to achieve this progress," said DQP Coordinator Tony Edwards.
"I appreciate the working relationship we had with the USDA VMOs and am very happy with the decrease of violations given by the USDA with the same equipment and inspection process that was used in 2009 by those VMOs," concluded Edwards.
As you can probably guess, my thoughts are still negative on this.
I don't see this as progress at all. First, there are still violations, period. Second, everyone knows the USDA is going to be at the Celebration, so they're going to be on their best behavior. Third, we know that people will take the fall in exchange for favors to make it look like the HIO is doing it's job.
I was told by an insider that many of the horses are very pacey, which is indicative of them not having been sored. I heard the inspection processes were grueling. But really, what's the deal here? Why does the inspection process have to be grueling? Why do the horses have to be pacey instead of being shown correctly without pads and chains and bands? Why does this ugly representation of our breed still have to exist?
I have zero trust for this industry and I do not believe there is a change. Until I stop hearing about backyard shows where horses are still so sore they can hardly walk, until I stop seeing pictures and videos coming across my computer like the ones to the right, until pads, chains, bands, and Tungsten shoes are eliminated from the show ring, then I don't think we'll ever see this industry changing. It is an industry that is ingrained in this mentality. They aren't willing to change--only to cover things up.
We can focus on the good news within our sound horse community. The fact that NWHA's membership has been accepted by the USEF is HUGE--they have shunned the TWH industry for decades because of their behavior. Plus NWHA is working with the USDF on their dressage rules. Then we have the WEGs refusing the HIOs that continue to be violators including TWHBEA to be at their venue. NWHA and various sound horse owners and exhibitors were the ones invited. That's where we need to put our money and time. Ignore those who continue to be violators. Don't give them money, don't go to the shows, even if they're free. If there are people with padded horses in the barn, don't buy from them. Stay away.
My biggest question to the industry it this: Wouldn't it be easier just to stop this? Wouldn't it be easier to eliminate the causes of soring rather than skirting around it? Why make your shows a difficult place for people to be when you CAN change things? I don't care if you have a change of heart. I'm not looking for you to just totally think that you have to go Parelli or something like that to train your horses. All I'm asking is that the pressure shoeing and soring stop, and that the means to do it go away. I don't think it's that much to ask. I imagine the horses would say the same thing.
"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
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