TO ALL OF YOU WHO THINK THIS PHOTO IS FAKE: It most certainly is real, confirmed by the USDA. It seems that Heart of America Walking Horse Association also knows it's real, as the USDA has approached them and are taking action. Here's the quote direction from the letter the USDA sent me:
"Agency Horse Protection Program (HPP) officials are aware of the situation you refer to, which took lace at a Heart of America Walking Horse Association (HAWHA) show on the weekend of May 14, 2010. Our program officials are currently in discussions with HAWHA about actions to be taken against the designated qualified persons (DPQs) hired by HAWHA who were involved in this incident. Since this issue is currently unresolved, and could result in additional enforcement action, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time."
While my immediate reaction is, of course, can those DQPs' asses, unfortunately the USDA does not have the authority to demand that. However, publicly displaying this photo and keeping the information out there will help all of us to remember not to trust anyone who says that soring is a thing of the past. No, this is not an isolated incident. No, this is not a photoshopped photo. No, this is not a photo from 20 years ago. This is a common and current practice happening everyday and needs to end.
Hopefully we will hear what happens to this HIO and the DQPs. Let's hope they are both punished accordingly and called out publicly by the USDA for their actions.