"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

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NEWS and HOW YOU CAN HELP - Please Comment on the Petition for Amendments to the HPA Regulations

EDITED 4/14/2011*

The USDA is asking for public comments regarding the petition turned in last year that is asking for amendments to the current regulations under the HPA.

This is a BIG DEAL, folks. We need all the sound horse people who can to comment! However, I need to stress that you do need to read the petition BEFORE making comments. Do not start commenting blindly. Be sure that you understand the petition before commenting. The sound horse community needs to walk into this logically and armed with facts, not emotional rants. Keep it simple and easy to read, and help the USDA to understand why we need these changes to happen.

It is also important to know the following, which comes from the USDA's Federal Registrar website:

"We are notifying the public that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has received a petition requesting changes to our horse protection regulations and our current enforcement practices and related policies regarding those regulations. We are making this petition available to the public for review and comment. We are noting, however, that certain requests in the petition lack authority in the Horse Protection Act to implement."

For the requests that the HPA doesn't cover, click here for the Federal Registrar page and read the section titled Supplementary Information.

Click here for the petition and click on the orange PDF button to the right of the Petition for Rulemaking title. You will need Adobe Reader to view it, which is free from www.adobe.com.

Comments can be submitted through the same link that the petition is on. Click here and then click on Comment Due underneath the HPA Petition for Amendment to Regulations to enter your comments.

Your comments must be in by June 13, 2011. Let me know if you have any questions about how to comment--feel free to post here or on our Facebook page! Thank you!

*Here is the comment I submitted--I wanted to make sure that everyone is welcome to read it.

After reading the petition in full, I completely agree with every word in it. After extensive research and experience with this matter, I believe the best course of action that the USDA can take is to eliminate the tools that are used to sore horses, as detailed in the petition. The HIOs FOSH and NWHA have been able to eliminate soring from the show ring by banning these devices. If the HPA could be amended to mirror this ban, then we could see a true end to this abuse.

I am sure you will receive many comments that say that it's only a few people who are doing this or only a few horses that are being found with scars. The real problem is that we are dealing with an ingrained mentality that truly believes there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. They try to distract us by pointing their fingers at other breed associations' issues, and they continue to rely on data (such as 98% compliance) that is not accurate. It is also socially acceptable and even fun to consistently thwart the USDA. Most recently, we have seen the development of the Unified Horse Show Development Program who have said they will help only those HIOs that have refused to accept the mandatory penalty structure. Therefore, they are providing aid to those who continue to break the law and are in effect encouraging it.

Overall, this attitude allows soring to continue. We need to see serious punishment for this crime, and we need to see the violators go to jail and have to post bail in order to be allowed to be out and still showing horses during any appeal process. We need to see HIOs disqualified, and if they continue to hold shows, be dealt a serious fine for holding horse shows that are found to have sore horses in them. We need you, the APHIS and the USDA, to uphold the law as it is written and stop trying to negotiate with the industry. They have had over 40 years to end soring, which is proof they never will. A decrease in soring isn't okay--one sore horse is one to many.

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