"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

Friday, October 29, 2010

NEWS and ARTICLES - Industry Representatives Meeting and OIG Audit

So first we get this. This was posted on Wednesday, Oct 27 on the Walking Horse Report.


Industry Representatives Gather For Meeting
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - Representatives from several industry associations gathered in Shelbyville, Tenn. on Monday October 25, 2010 to review the industry’s current state and future strategic direction. Representatives from the Walking Horse Owners’ Association, Walking Horse Trainers’ Association, Foundation for the Advancement and Support of the Tennessee Walking Show Horse, Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association, Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and SHOW HIO Judging Committee and many others were in attendance.

Frank Eichler, attorney for the SHOW HIO, facilitated the meeting and walked the participants though a presentation that outlined the current state of the industry, the progress of the SHOW HIO and current issues facing the industry. Those issues focused mainly on the Humane Society of the United States petition and the USDA mandatory penalties for HIOs in 2011.

Contraction in the Walking Horse industry is a disturbing trend and is highlighted by a near 15% decline in the number of horse shows in the industry in 2010 versus 2009. Also, in 2008 there were 72,952 entries inspected by the National Horse Show Commission and the Kentucky Walking Horse Association. To date in 2010, there have been 45,834 entries inspected by SHOW, PRIDE and the Kentucky Walking Horse Association.

USDA attendance at horse shows throughout the industry has peaked in 2010 with USDA representatives in attendance at approximately 55 horse shows already in 2010. This is compared to 37 shows in 2008 and 36 shows in 2009. The USDA has repeatedly spoken of the “new age of enforcement” and these numbers bear that out.

Industry HIOs have lost some shows to non-affiliated or “outlaw” shows across the country. There are over 450 documented non-affiliated shows that have taken place in 2010. Without affiliations and trained inspectors, shows inherit liability for the condition of the horses and the overall image of the Tennessee Walking Horse stands to be tarnished by non-compliant horses shown, no matter the venue.

A progress report on the SHOW HIO was given that updated the attendees on the last 18 months. This included the replacement of DQPs from the inherited NHSC DQPs, the steps taken in improving the inspection process and the acknowledgement of the effectiveness of the SHOW DQP training.

The decrease in the number of violations at the 2010 Celebration versus the 2009 Celebration, despite more horses entering the show ring, was given. Highlighting the progress was the overall decline in SHOW and USDA violations found from 601 in 2009 to 270 in 2010. Scar rule violations were dramatically reduced from 305 in 2009 to 87 in 2010.

The industry HIOs are all facing an impending December 1, 2010 deadline to submit their rulebooks to the USDA for approval. The USDA has mandated that those rulebooks contain the mandatory penalty structure that was originally proposed in the 2010 Points of Emphasis.

The SHOW HIO has not completed their analysis nor response to the mandatory penalties but do plan to have discussions with Dr. Chester Gipson and implement a penalty structure that effectuates the purpose of the Horse Protection Act. The SHOW HIO will try to meet with the other HIOs that inspect both performance and pleasure Tennessee Walking Horses to discuss the impact of the mandate from the USDA with regards to penalties.

Also, the SHOW HIO will issue a public response to the HSUS Petition that was filed with the USDA back in August 2010. SHOW intends to respond to the five key requests in the petition which include the permanent disqualification of scarred horses, a minimum penalty structure, permanent disqualification of repeat violators which include owners, trainers and custodians, incorporation of certain 2010 points of emphasis and decertification of non-compliant HIOs. Both practical and legal arguments will be forthcoming in the response issued by the SHOW HIO.

Many decisions face the industry and each HIO. A common theme throughout the discussions was the continued fragmentation of the industry and how it is detrimental to the overall success of the industry. Many options were discussed and input was taken from representatives in the audience. The year 2011 is quickly approaching and plans are already in progress for horse shows across the country.

In the call to action, communication was a key area of conversation. It is imperative that the representatives from the associations in attendance take the information back to their constituents and inform them of the facts of the meeting and the needs that face the industry.

Visit the SHOW web site to download the complete presentation given (should be available 10/28/2010). Attendees were also given a packet of information that included the Horse Protection Act, Horse Protection Regulations, 2010 Points of Emphasis, 2011 Mandatory Penalty Structure, letters from Dr. Gipson regarding the mandatory penalties and significant press releases from SHOW throughout its existence. If anyone would like a copy of these documents they can contact the SHOW office at rreed@showhio.com and be sent the information.


And then we get this! Posted Thursday, Oct 28 on the Walking Horse Report.


OIG Audit Released On APHIS
Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Office of Inspector General has publised its audit of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) administration of the horse protection program and the slaughter horse transport program. In the audit the OIG found APHIS' program for inspecting horses for soring is not adequate.

In response to the audit APHIS will take a number of actions to meet the needs identified by the OIG's audit. Some of those action include revising the regulations to require DQPs to be licensed by APHIS and independent of the show horse industry, requesting Congress double the funding to enforce the HPA, and pursue authority for APHIS to directly discipline DQPs. Also APHIS will ensure that horse show management actively identify people on suspension and prohibit their participation.

For a complete copy of the audit and the APHIS response click here.



I wrote a letter to Dr. Gipson and Dr. Cezar concerning this. Here's what I wrote:

Hello to both of you. I wanted to say that I'm sorry to hear that the OIG findings were that the APHIS's format for inspecting horses under the HPA is inadequate. However, I hope that this will help you and your department to find better ways to catch those who still sore their horses and to seriously consider banning stacks, pads, chains, bands, and heavy shoes in the show ring. I think this can be seen as a good result to this audit to get someone from outside of the APHIS to see what is going on. The changes made from these findings can really help end soring once and for all.

I also read the report in the Walking Horse Report that I have posted after my signature. [I posted the information about the meeting.] I have a strong feeling that when SHOW approaches Dr. Gipson regarding the new penalty structure that they will try to get the USDA to "tone it down." I plead with you that the USDA will not allow this and will stand their ground with this more appropriate penalty structure. This industry has had a whole year to make changes and be more serious about enforcement since the Points of Emphasis were written, and I believe they have failed miserably because sore horses are still in the ring. A reduction in the amount of sore horses is not enough; elimination of the sore horse is by far necessary, now more than ever.

As I have said before, I truly believe this industry is NOT going to change on it's own. They are steeped in what they consider "tradition" and are not willing to make changes that will affect their livelihoods. We cannot compete with that mentality. What I do believe is that the USDA is by far powerful enough to stop this ridiculous form of animal abuse. I believe these serious steps you are taking is going to help achieve that. I hope you are able to keep up the very, very hard work of stopping this industry from continuing to abuse horses once and for all.

I got a nice letter back from Dr. Gipson telling me that the new mandate is not negotiable. That's right, you heard me: NOT NEGOTIABLE. THANK YOU USDA!

Please be sure to send your letters in to let them know how much we appreciate this. I am really happy with these decisions by the USDA and the OIG, and we are getting closer to an end. Just keep up the fight! Keep those letters coming and the pressure on the industry to end this!

Monday, October 25, 2010

NEWS - USDA Steps Up Penalty Protocols

This is great news! The USDA is mandating a very serious penalty structure that all HIOs must follow and include in their rulebook. See below for the report. Thispenalty protocol was put together earlier this year as a penalty structure that HIOs should aspire to, but it wasn't required. Now it is. I believe that this is a clear message that the USDA is telling the industry to start being serious about stopping soring.

While nothing is mentioned in the article, I just hope that this means that non-compliance results in the HIO being shut down. This could also be a major step toward ending soring and banning stacks, pads, chains, bands and heavy shoes in the show ring.

I sent a thank you email to the USDA. It's important to know we appreciate these actions. Be sure to let them know as well you appreciate what they're doing.

USDA To Mandate Penalties For HIOs In 2011
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

By Jeffrey Howard

Copyright Walking Horse Report 2010

The United States Department of Agriculture has informed all Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs) that the proposed 2010 Horse Protection Penalty Protocol will be mandatory in 2011. The penalty protocol was originally sent earlier in the year with the 2010 Points of Emphasis. The Points of Emphasis were enforced in 2010 by the HIOs, however the penalty protocol was a recommended protocol thus not mandated in 2010.

In the letter sent August 12, 2010 from Dr. Chester A. Gipson, Deputy Administrator, it stated:

“The recommended penalty protocol in 2010 will now be mandatory in 2011. The penalty protocol will need to be added to all HIO Rulebooks, which will now require approval prior to the 2011 Show Season.”

The Penalty Protocol calls for the first offense of the scar rule to require a 2 week suspension, the second violation to be 60 days and the third and all subsequent violations for the lifetime of the trainer to be a one-year suspension.

The first unilateral sore violation requires a 60 day suspension, the second 120 days and the third and all subsequent violations will carry a one-year suspension. The first bilateral violation will be one year, the second two years and the third and all subsequent will carry a four-year suspension.

A pre-show foreign substance will result in the horse being dismissed while a post-show foreign substance will carry a two-week suspension. A pre-show equipment violation will result in dismissal, while a post-show equipment violation will carry a two-week suspension. Shoeing violations, heel-toe violations and unruly/fractious horse violations all will result in the dismissal of the horse from that event. A violation of a suspension will result in an additional six-month suspension.

In a letter dated October 15, 2010 from Dr. Gipson, the HIOs were informed of the timeline for submitting their rulebooks for 2011. All rulebooks with penalties, the hearing process and inspection process must be submitted by December 1, 2010.

“The following HIO rulebook information is to be submitted to the Department for review: the HIO penalty protocol; the hearing process; and the Designated Qualified Person (DQP) inspection process. The information is to be received by the Department on or before December 1, 2010. On or before January 1, 2011, the Department will notify the HIO of the approval or disapproval of the submitted information.”

The letter also stated that the penalties listed in the rulebook will be evaluated to make sure they are equal to or greater than those listed in the penalty protocol given by the USDA. Also, all HIOs must recognize the violations given by the USDA or another HIO.

“Suspensions and disqualifications issued by the Department or an HIO are currently to be enforced by all HIOs and show managements.”

The penalty protocol does state that if an HIO imposes and enforces a penalty that the USDA believes effectuates the purpose of the Act and the regulations, the USDA will not initiate a Federal case against the violator. If the HIO does not enforce a penalty that effectuates the purpose of the Act and the regulations, the USDA may initiate a federal case against any persons who participated in the entry, showing and, if appropriate, transportation of a sore horse (including, for example, the owner, custodian, trainer, rider, and/or transporter).

Currently, none of the HIOs that inspect both performance and pleasure Tennessee Walking Horses have submitted their rulebook nor made public comment as to their interpretation or acceptance of the mandatory penalties for 2011.

Monday, October 18, 2010

NEWS and ARTICLES - 2010 WGC Championship Was Under Question

Sorry I haven't been posting, folks--it's been a busy few months for me.

Well, it seems that this year's WGC, The Coach, did a very, very poor job in the ring for his class. Apparently he was "off" and stumbled several times. I've been told by several sources that the horse named Star should have won and that many were shocked when The Coach was announced as the winner.

Is this unusual? Not really, when championships are bought and paid for. When you have the kind of corporate and government backing the horse industry, no matter what discipline or breed, favortism runs rampant. No coporation wants their sponsorship money to go to waste. I have seen many horses win ribbons thats shouldn't have, all based on who the owner, trainer, exhibitor, or sponsor was. But I think what makes it worse for me with TWHs is that when championships are bought and paid for, then why are the horses continuing to suffer?

Of course, I don't know for sure if this is what has happened, but all the signs point to this being yet another form of the TWH industry's continued corruption. It also just seems there is no other explanation for what happened. If anyone else can think of anything, I'd be happy to know.

Below is the information from the Walking Horse Report about the WGC class judging and review of the videos. I honestly expected no other response than this. No one in any horse industry wants to be told they were wrong when they crown a championship horse.


SHOW Addresses Judging At The Celebration

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Walking Horse Report has interviewed both Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows and SHOW Director of Judges Rollie Beard regarding the judging at the 72nd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. Both Meadows and Beard commented on the performance of the judging panel collectively as well as Beard commenting on the criticism received by the judging panel in the World Grand Championship class on Saturday night September 4, 2010.

SHOW Director of Judges Rollie Beard commented:

“I thought that the overall performance of the judges out of 202 classes was very good. They did not work them too long , they knew the rules, and placed the horses accordingly. I thought the last class could have went either to The Coach or to Star, however three judges placed Coach first and two of them placed him second. Star on the other hand got two first and three seconds. I felt the judges did their job. Judges can only place what they see in front of them.

As for the criticism of the tie of The Coach, from what I have seen from the videos of the class and as a witness to the class, it was evident that the Coach made a few mistakes but he did not quit (quit means to bring to end or to give up for good ). A horse can make a mistake and still win if he has outperformed the other horses. It is up to the judge to decide the severity of the mistake. Only in equitation do judges score the rider on mistakes.”

Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows commented:

“I think the judges did a great job. The panel got along extremely well throughout The Celebration®. The panel took on a unique cohesiveness and respect for each other’s ability to judge each class of horses. I have a tremendous amount of respect for each judge both personally and professionally. I assure you that it was not just another job or judging event for all the judges. If all the trainers, owners and fans could have worked with each member of this year’s judging panel during The Celebration®, they would come away from the show with a different perspective.

I am absolutely amazed about the number of people who can evaluate and criticize a judge when they have never judged the first horse. I would encourage those people to go through the years of training to become a AAA Judge and perhaps they would have more respect for the efforts of a horse show judge.

I thought the workout on Thursday night as well as the World Championship Class provided extra excitement to the fans. As a judging panel, they selected four (4) horses they felt could be the next World Grand Champion® for the final workout. The judges tied the horses in this class no differently than they had the previous 201 classes. The results, as one would expect, had a variation of the judges preference, position in the show ring and performance of the horse in front of each judge.


SHOW President Issues Statement Regarding Judging
Thursday, September 16, 2010

The following statement was issued by SHOW President Dr. Stephen L. Mullins.

I have extensively reviewed the tapes of the World Grand Championship class at the 72nd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration with SHOW Director of Judges Rollie Beard. It has been the policy of SHOW all year to video the classes and strategically place cameras to capture the view of our judges to allow SHOW the opportunity to review the performance of our judges. The cameras are placed where only that particular judges viewpoint is monitored. Mr. Beard has reviewed video all year from horse shows across the country and at times has met with judges to review their decisions.

After spending hours reviewing the performance of our judges during the Celebration and more specifically the World Grand Championship class, I have determined that no disciplinary action is necessary against any judge at The Celebration. Our Director of Judges has issued a statement after reviewing the tapes and SHOW supports his analysis of the judges performance.

Just like with the inspection process, I aim to continue to improve the judging process and will be working tirelessly over the next several months to prepare training, work with our judging committee and move the judging forward in 2011. I am not a professional judge, nor do I hold a license, but understand the importance of high integrity, honest judging and improving the overall perspective of our judging program. I would ask that all of our exhibitors, owners and trainers continue to practice patience as we move forward in 2011.

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