"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, 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.


horsndogluvr said...

Well, hooray! I'd have liked to see the penalties a little stronger, but it's still progress.

I wonder what will happen if the HIOs don't get their rulebooks in on time?

I hereby offer to construct the TWHIPB: TWH Inspection and Punishment Board. The BOD positions are Overseer (formerly President), Enforcer(formerly V.P.), Reporter(formerly Secretary), Controller of Funds(formerly Treasurer), and Policers(formerly Board Members) at large.

Those with any record of violations within the past 15 years, active trainers, and active Judges need not apply. A majority of BOD members must come from people who do NOT show in stacks/pads.

Well, the first paragraph was a bit facetious, but I wish the USDA would mandate the second one. Personally, I'd allow the judges and trainers back, say 10 years after some benchmark of significantly reduced, or eliminated soring.

Now if we could just get those involved to see how ugly that "performance" look really is... Kidnap and brainwash them, by taking them trail riding on a great TWH during the day, and making them watch films of natural horses at night? Films would include any and all breeds at work and play; in depth looks at hoof health; old horse movies; and rescue before-and-afters, especially big-eyed fearful horses learning to relax, and rehab of horses with injured and overgrown hooves- but save those for last.

In fact, that could be the "punishment" for multiple violations - a two-week, educational vacation.

Well, I can dream, can't I?

I'd still like to become a DQP for my area - Colorado's northern Front Range, including Denver. I can go further if hotel and gas expenses are paid. But I have no idea how to get trained, or get designated. Do you have any ideas? You can e-mail me at rias60623 (at) mypacks (dot) net, which is not my "real" addy, and I'll e you back with the right one.

Now I'll write the USDA a thank you note.

Thanks for your unceasing advocacy,


Anonymous said...

I will send you an email, Ruthie. Thanks for your post!

I will say here really quick that I don't recommend becoming a DQP unless you do it with NWHA, the HPC or FOSH. You have to go through training at your own expense so why spend money that will go in the bad guys' pockets? The DQP job is also very dangerous, and many people who actually follow the rules have been threatened or been kicked out. They EXPECT you to pass sore horses, and if you don't then you can be risking serious problems.

You can certainly go to NWHA and FOSH's website to find out about how to be a DQP with them. They need them badly, and you do get paid to be a DQP. You'll be supporting a non-profit organization rather than profiting ones that continue to support animal abuse. They're the ones who really need the help.

The sore horse HIOs aren't going to stop because their way of life is ingrained in their culture. It's steps like this one that the USDA is making that is going to make the change overall. So supporting the sound horse groups is the best way to fight the fight.

This of course is IMHO, but it comes from experience and from the much more experienced whom I am friends with. I have learned a lot from people who used to sore their horses and then had Seen The Light and got out of it. The stories I have heard are unfortunately not repeatable, but they are unbelievable when you do get to hear them.

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