WHR Interviews SHOW President Dr. Steve Mullins
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
The Walking Horse Report recently sat down with SHOW President Dr. Stephen L. Mullins to discuss the upcoming show season, the USDA impending revocation of its DQP program, the partnership with WHOA and the raising of its fees for 2011. Dr. Mullins was kind enough to sit down for this extensive interview as he prepares for SHOW’s upcoming judges’ school, farrier clinic and industry roundtable meeting.
WHR – Can you update the industry on the status of your certification with the USDA?
SM – At the current time it is business as usual with the SHOW HIO. We have been in receipt of three letters from Dr. Gipson and have responded to a couple of those in December. We are working on the response to the last of those letters and our 30 day notice given in that letter ends around the 22nd of February. At that time we will respond and if the USDA ultimately decertifies SHOW we will appeal any revocation of our license.
WHR – Would you be allowed to affiliate shows during that appeal process?
SM – Yes. We believe that the Horse Protection Act allows for us to appeal any revocation and that during that process, which could take some time, we would be allowed to continue to inspect horses. It is my hope that we don’t have to go down that road but that is completely out of my hands at this point in time. The best thing this industry can do is to continue to affiliate horse shows, exhibit your horses and let the agency process takes its course.
WHR – There has been a lot of talk about a deal between WHOA and SHOW which would require amateurs to have WHOA issued Amateur Cards in order to show at SHOW events. Has a deal been made?
SM – There has not been a deal struck between SHOW and WHOA. We were presented a proposal from WHOA and my board took it under advisement and came back with a couple of changes, one of which was moving the International to the Calsonic Arena. Our board asked WHOA to send them a copy of the financials, which President Bennett and several WHOA Board members who attended the meeting with my Board agreed to do, in order to review them before submitting the counterproposal, and to this point we have not received them. At this time, I am not sure if we will get them and thus currently we have no deal and exhibitors are not required to have an amateur card to show at SHOW events.
WHR – You have received a lot of pushback regarding increasing your fees for the horse card to $150 for an annual card and $50 for a day card. Can you give me the reasons why you increased the card?
SM – First, let me say that I wish we could inspect horses for free and horse owners and horse shows would not have to absorb any of this cost. Unfortunately, that is not reality and we can’t continue to count on the Celebration to fund SHOW’s losses and SHOW can’t continue to subsidize the industry or those shows which lose money. We knew there would be critics of this funding model, just as there are many critics of our HIO. We continue to believe that our mission of providing fair inspections, honest judging, eliminating the sore horse and supporting the compliant horse is the only way for this industry to reverse the negative impressions and perception of the USDA and other industry critics and ultimately allow this great horse to thrive once again. Our trainers believe in this as well and have continued in 2009 and 2010 to bring horses to inspection when the USDA has been present and allowed those horse shows to continue. Not to say anything bad about another HIO, but the other HIOs inspecting performance horses can’t say the same thing.
WHR – Is it SHOW’s thought that allowing the owner to absorb the cost is better than the horse show absorbing the cost?
SM – Yes. Horse show development is a major area of concern for SHOW and we want to provide as many opportunities as possible for our great horse to be exhibited. We are a show horse and without horse shows we will not be in business. Right, wrong or indifferent the horse cards have allowed more horse shows to make money than if they had been charged an inspection fee. Horse shows that make money will continue to have their show again and also allow charitable dollars to flow from our industry into communities across our country. Yes, unfortunately that puts the burden once again on the horse owner, but a major goal of every horse owner should be to support the shows and encourage new shows to showcase their horses.
WHR – You are compared to the NHSC which had a $10 inspection fee and was able to breakeven if not make a little money before you took the reigns in 2009. Would that model not work now?
SM – First, there is no similarity in SHOW and the NSHC. We are a completely different organization with a different structure, strategy and application of the HIO program. Also, in 2008 the NHSC inspected 264 shows and 51,000 horses. In 2010 SHOW inspected 154 shows and 24,000 entries so as you can see that model would not currently work. If SHOW was inspecting 50,000 entries and continuing to grow, horse owners would see the price of their horse card cut drastically. Unfortunately, our mission is to provide a respected, professional inspection process which effectuates the purposes of the HPA no matter how many horses are inspected.
Okay, my major concern is that SHOW thinks it can still keep things business as usual if it is decertified and then appeals it. They say they can still hold shows and affiliate with shows. I call bullshit on this one. I sent a letter to the USDA about this because I want them to know what these idiots are thinking. First, I would imagine that they can't do anything after they're decertified. I mean, if a murderer is convicted but he appeals his case, does he get to leave jail and go galavanting around, doing as he wishes? No. So I hope that the same is the case in this situation.
I agree with all of the SHOW members that the affiliation fee is outrageous. I was told by a friend who has another friend who shows with SHOW that she will not be showing with them anymore because she doesn't want to pay the fee to support their attorneys to continue this ridiculous fight. And really, I figure that's what these fees are for. SHOW probably is losing money hand over fist because they're paying so much in attorney fees, and they are looking for ways to force the industry to pay for it. But attorneys aside, in this economy, if SHOW wants to continue to have support then charging those kinds of fees is really shooting themselves in the foot.
I find it laughable that SHOW says they are nothing like the NHSC. Well, since the majority of your board and most of your judges and DQPs were former NHSC board members, judges and DQPs, and since you still allow sore horse in the ring, you absolutely ARE still the NHSC. Just because the NHSC had lower numbers in 2009 does not mean that SHOW is different. I imagine that that particular situation was because of our current economy. All horse breeds are seeing a reduction in entries across the board because of financial reasons.
I have also found further proof that the SHOW is still allowing sore horses at their venues. I have a friend who attended a big TWH sale in KY last weekend. Here was her report.
SHOW actually turned down one of The Spotlight Sale horses named Cash Lined. He must have been REALLY bad to get turned down at a sale, they let everything go through and if it is bad they have the announcer tell the details of the vet check. I have gone over horses there, rode them, ect - found scars - and the announcer did not say it when the horse sold. So, I know it has to be severe for them to mention it and it has to be incredibly severe for them to turn a horse down. I tried to video the SHOW inspection and it was really hard. They had them in a darker corner and it was all roped off. You can't get in there except to cross over to get from one barn to the next. I stopped in the middle and they had me leave. But, I think that is to make sure nobody tries anything sneaky after the horse has passed. So, I was kinda glad they saw me there and asked me to step out of the inspection area.
The DQPs were right--they are not supposed to allow other people around while they're inspecting. That's been a major issue with the USDA--allowing too many people in the inspection area.
However, let's note that they're certainly still allowing sore horses in the ring. She also told me that some of the horses were so sore they could hardly walk down the barn aisle to the ring. The USDA's back was turned, so it's business as usual for SHOW.
So, be sure to send your letters to the USDA. It's obvious that SHOW is not going to comply, and therefore we need to see them decertified and for them not to be allowed to continue holding shows and affiliating with shows. SHOW needs to learn a very severe lesson here, and the USDA can teach that lesson very effectively!