"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

Thursday, January 13, 2011

NEWS - USDA Suspends Russ Thompson and Jason Scott Hughes

Remember in 2006 how the Celebration show management canceled the WGC class? After the class, Russ Thompson of Russ Thompson Stables in California had everyone rush over to the Champions Arena and put on his own impromptu show with his horse and another horse. These actions of course caused problems, and Thompson and cohorts were ticketed for these actions.

The USDA has determined that both Thompson and Jason Scott Hughes are to be suspended for four months each and are not allowed to show any of their horses, either themselves or through another party, during this time.

Click here for the HPA Docket No. 08-0026 explaining the findings and conclusion by the USDA.

While suspension is great, honestly, this is not enough. It is yet another example of how we need to get better penalties for these problems. While this particular action wasn't as severe as soring a horse, Thompson has still contributed to the mockery that is the Walking Horse industry. When classes are canceled in other venues because of horse problems or various other issues that are outside of lack of entries, people don't just go running off and hold an impromptu class. I equate the actions to an audience riot at a soccer game in another country. The Walking Horse industry continues to dumb our breed down in the eyes of the rest of the equine world. I'm glad these men were punished for their actions, but I imagine I can't hope that they will change their ways.


Jpowell said...

Faith, Hope and Love are all we really have. I grew up in the Walking Horse Industry. Horse show every weekend I missed out on school functions and parties everything a Teenager lives to be a part of. I can only imagine what my Dad gave up for this industry; it was his life for many years. He in returned missed out on Prom pictures, basketball games, etc... He put his blood, sweat, everything he had into the WHI.
I don't condone the soring of any horse whether it be Walking Horse, Saddle bred, Thoroughbreds, etc... However I do understand the actions of Mr. Russ Thompson and Jason Hughes in September of 2006. Imagine you have put everything you have into something and missed out on other things to gain at this venture in life and the USDA comes in and shuts you down! You have a barn full of customers and show ground full of exhibitors that came for a show! Your adrenaline is pumping now! What do you think will happen next? Well someone has got to give them the show they came for.
And the USDA is controlled by US Government officials correct; they are people just like you and me. People are not always correct in there judgment, those horses like many others may not have been sore that night or any other. Mr. Thompson and Mr. Hughes were wrong in their actions but there are always two sides to every story. Agree?
I HOPE that for the generations to come the few trainers in the Walking Horse Industry that make us look bad will come to understand what they are doing wrong. I have FAITH that they will as I don't know what a world would be like with Walking Horse shows. I LOVE the Walking Horse Industry with that I have to take the bad with the good. Thanks for your time! JP

Anonymous said...

JP, I absolutely agree. I do understand where Thompson and Hughes came from. I have experienced similar situations in my own life (although not related to horses), where you've prepared for so long and suddenly someone comes and shuts you down. However, I have to play devil's advocate here. If they had thought the situation through instead of acting on their emotions, then it wouldn't have come to this for them. No one needed to give the audience a show--the audience could have accepted it and moved on. If a baseball game is called because of rain, do the players play anyway just to appease the audience? If a bill is passed in Congress that one of the Congressmen didn't vote for, does he jump up, scream and yell and go start his own bill vetoing campaign? While we are all welcome to go home and bitch and complain all we want, our actions at the event itself need to be kept dignified. It's what will save the industry overall. There are times for anger and overreacting and there are times when it's uncalled for and where it has serious consequences.

Overall, though, like I said, I do agree with you. I hope the same you do--that the trainers who still sore horses and the owners who still allow the horses to be sored will stop and start getting serious about making a change. I would love to see stacks and pads used for what they were originally used for: to exaggerate the gait only, not force it or hide the soring. You are right: it would be a sad world without Walking Horse shows!

Thank you very, very much for your very candid and kind response. You have excellent points and they are important to the industry. I really do appreciate your post!

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