"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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

RESEARCH - Q&A From USDA Stakeholder's Meeting May 27, 2011: Part 2

Continued from the previous post...

Now, first, I want to comment that I'm hearing that people are saying the USDA did not answer the questions and/or were not prepared. Of course, this comes from the side that still wants soring to continue. We need to remember that this meeting was to discuss the proposed rules only, NOT FOR ANYTHING ELSE. Second, we cannot expect the USDA to have every little tidbit of fact in front of them to refer to when dealing with the HPA and the industry in general. Third, if they had answered all of the questions that were not related to the proposal, then questions that were related to the proposal may not have been asked in the time alloted for the meeting.

And of course those who are against these rules didn't like the answers. They were the truth and to the point, and the truth hurts. I think the industry should read the answers for what they are and take them seriously rather than just poo-pooing anything the USDA says. I will say this again and again: the industry has caused the USDA to be on their backs by not eliminating soring. It is their fault it is happening, and it's high time they start working with the USDA rather than fighting against it at every turn. Ask yourselves this: do you want the TWH industry to continue? If you do, then stop soring your horses. Period. It's not a hard choice to make.

Now on to the next set of questions and answers from the meeting.


Q8: I'm curious to find out why this is being proposed to the public. I think you guys know what you're going to hear; the people who are opposed to it will be violently and vehemently opposed to it, people who are for it are going to be for it. I don't see where there is a gray area. I do believe that the USDA has given this industry multiple chances to clean up their act, and they haven't done it and they're not going to do it themselves. In my opinion I believe that enforcing these penalties is more important than asking their opinion. So I'm curious as to why that's happening.
A8: The the reasoning why that we are having this out as a proposed rule is that it is a process outlined by the Administrative Procedures Act and we are required to have it done this way. we also did want to make sure that we received um comments from our stakeholders as well as from the general public.

I think this answer goes back to the answer for Q2. They need to put this out as a proposal by the APA and they did not do so to begin with. However, to reiterate, this does not negate the requirement for the new procedures to be in the rulebooks; the HIOs are still required to change their rulebooks or get decertified.

Q9: Are you going to better define the difference between a callus and a blemish for the scar rule?
A9: This is not a issue we're going to deal with in our discussion today.

Again, this meeting was to discuss the new proposed rules ONLY, not anything else.

Q10: After the first of the year or maybe before the first of the year the department issued this same proposal of the same penalties. At that time the department said that they were going to be in the process of decertifying the HIOs that didn't add this to their rulebooks. Obviously there were HIOs that didn't. What's the purpose of reissuing a proposal that the HIOs won't put in the rulebook now at all?
A10: You're absolutely right. We started out mandating the penalty protocol. What we decided to do after looking at the regulation that was in question asked about where our authority was we said rather than issue it with all these questions we would go back and address all those issues and in the process we would be very transparent so everyone would know what was going on because we tried to work cooperatively with the industry and they resisted. And when they could not agree to the new protocol on their own or accept the USDA protocol, we chose to take a transparent process so everyone would know that this has been going on for 30 plus years as it was just indicated and that it's time for it to stop. And this is the first step in continuing the process of eliminating the cruelty and the inhumane treatment of the horse. We do intend to decertify those who do not follow what is being prescribed in the regulations and the final rule. That's part of the process.

There you have it: hey HIOs, better implement these new penalties or be decertified.

And thanks for pointing that out, Dr. Gipson. This has been going on for 30 plus years, and it needs to stop. And note that he is right--they tried to work with the industry and the industry resisted. The industry is digging its own grave here.

Q11: If a horse show refuses to hire an HIO but yet they hire AAEP vets to check and screen horses for being sore or compliant with the HPA and keep non-HPA compliant horses out of the ring, what is the department's plan to enforce this new proposal if it is passed to these horses that are rejected from the show ring from a horse show that does not affiliate with a HIO?
A11: The liability to the show management is to make sure there are no sore horses that are showing. If if the department ends up coming to a horse show and finds that a horse is sore that was shown, then the show management will have the liability of the violation that is found on that horse as well as any individual that is responsible for that horse.

The point here is that if a show is not affiliated with an HIO, then rather than the owner/trainer/etc. only be liable for the horse that is found sore, the entire show management will be liable. Show management shows responsibility by affiliating with HIOs that have accepted the rules as put forth by the USDA. If they don't do it, then they are responsible for the horses being sored and can also be fined. I think this in the HPA itself.

Q12: You said that you intend to decertify HIOs that refuse or fail to follow the penalty protocols and I'm not absolutely clear what time frame you are intending to look at those possible decertifications. Are you looking at taking that action only after this proposed rule making regulation goes into effect or would you look at that action sometime before the regs go into effect? And what time from following the closure of the 60 day comment period would you anticipate implementing these new regulations?
A12: All actions will take place after the regulations have been finalized and I cannot speculate on what time frame that might be.

Maybe in a way this means it's not too late for HIOs to still change their tune...? If so, I would say that the four HIOs would be wise to reconsider their choice in not accepting the new penalty protocol.
Q13: The ultimate authority at a horse show the ultimate responsibility of presenting the sore horses is it the show management or is it the HIO?
A13: The ultimate responsibility is show management. Um show management is liable of having any horses sore that are going to be shown. They are liable to have either a DQP to inspect the horses prior to the horses going into the ring in which they would work with the HIO to do that. If they do have a HIO doing that then show management will not be liable. That would basically put the responsibility on the individuals that have that horse that was found in violation of the HPA.

So, as I explained before, show management is "off the hook" so to say if they have hired an HIO.

Q14: I fail to understand how these new regulations are not going to be extremely prejudicial against the industry, hurt the industry, hurt sales of horses in the future to new people wanting to get into the industry. It is for this reason that I ask this question about how these new regs are not going to be in a direct opposition to what is in the federal law now that whatever is done to these horses should not hurt the industry.
A14: Again these regulations are not in direct opposition of what is in the federal regulations at all. I think we pointed out what the maximum penalties were under the allowed statute and these are far below that. But then I'll go back to my point. The regulation is about the welfare of the horse. And that's what we are addressing through these regulations: the welfare of the horse. They've been in place for 30 plus years and you are right if they haven't hurt the industry in 30 years, that's because they're hurting the horse. We're changing that.

This is not about YOU, sore horse industry! This is about upholding the law by taking care of the welfare of the horse! You are choosing to mess this up yourselves! I can guarantee you that your horses will be just as good and make just as much money in the show ring when they're sound than when they're sore. I hear the excuse that the horse needs to be exciting and flashy for people to come see it. Well, Western Pleasure Quarter Horses barely move around the ring and hardly move, yet millions of dollars are pumped into that division of the Quarter Horse industry every year. If you produce a good, sound product, then people will come see it. It's that simple. Promote the versatility of the breed. Focus on gaited horse dressage, reining, barrels, trail, endurance, and don't just rely on rail classes as your money makers. And take a look at how many entries you get at shows in the Trail Pleasure and Lite Shod classes. Those are the ones who keep you afloat. The industry claims that only 10 percent of horses are shown as Big Lick horses. Therefore, logic dictates that they can't be making you that much money. So why not eliminate them and concentrate on the areas where people will respect you and come to your shows? Do you realize the reason why you're losing money is because the whole world now knows your dirty secret AND knows that you won't make changes, so they're staying away from you? That's why you aren't getting new members and membership are dropping off, and why classes are getting smaller and smaller. You will catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar. You are destroying yourselves by destroying the horses.

Q15: Out of all the gaited breeds of horses in the U.S. I tried to study all the data and of all the gaited horses in the last 10 years that horses had to be put down due to show or training related injuries does not add up to one year of the thoroughbred industry. Yet the gaited horses is where you feel like where our biggest hurt is. can you shed some light on that for me?
A15: The only light I can shed on that is that our legal statutory does not cover racehorses. It only covers those horses covered by the HPA.

First, the HPA was written against a specific type of abuse: causing pain to a horse's limbs to force its legs to lift higher in the show ring. Soring as it is defined is not present in the TB world. The natural gait of the horse is not enhanced through mechanical means in any way TBs are shown, whether on the racetrack, in the jumping ring, or in the dressage ring. Therefore, your argument holds no water. You're merely trying to point fingers at someone else and place blame elsewhere to get the attention off yourself. Clearly the USDA sees right through this.

Q16: Can you tell me when the operative word in the HPA is a present tense "is sore", how can one permanently disqualify a horse for being permanently scarred when the present definition of scar is not the medical definition of scar and the scar as you know it, the horse's condition changes daily and a horse that you deemed sore today by virtue of a scar is certainly not sore tomorrow by virtue of a scar as you defined it. How can you rationalize permanently suspending one based upon the scar in your definition?
A16: We're not looking into the a permanent suspension of a scar rule violation. We are looking into specifically for the first offense it would be a two week suspension, a second offense would be 60 days and a third offense would be one year. So there is no permanent suspension being looked at at this time.

GOTCHA! Read the new rules before you speak!

Q17: Since you have the legal authority and you said for 34 years that you are supposed to have enforced the law why of all the 400 outlaw shows have you not been to and the resources to check these horses instead of double dipping behind HIOs when I watch you at shows when we know there's at least 400 outlaw shows that's being given to you to check. I want to know why you and the OIGs did not go out and still have not gone out and inspected horses and found horses in violation at these outlaw shows?
A17: We have attended outlaw shows and we continue to attend those shows that don't affiliate and that are brought to our attention and we have the resources to put there.

In case anyone doesn't know, "outlaw" shows are shows that are not affiliated with any HIOs. I have heard from many people who have gone to them that the soring is rampant and clearly in the open. Plastic wrap, "work grease" that includes none of the legal lubricants allowed per the HPA, oversized chains and chains with spikes welded on them to cause pain...you name it, they're doing it at these shows. Most of these shows take place at people's private arenas rather than at public arenas so the shows aren't announced to the public. I imagine that we don't hear about when the USDA goes to these shows because there is nothing to be reported through any normal channels since they aren't affiliated with any HIO.

Q18: If the department intends to have its own inspectors have they embarked on that program already? Have you been training inspectors? Do you plan to and how many do you plan to?
A18: No not at this time. We are not licensing and training the DQPs. We just have our USDA government employees that are oversight for the DQPs at this time.

And that's something they may have to change as time goes on, as they pointed out in the first part of this Q&A session.

Q19: There is a active current comment period open right now that I assume is something different from what the new comment period is that just opened up today. Can you tell what the difference is between the two 60 day windows? What the first comment period serves versus what this one does today? Also this move or action today is particularly concerning the welfare of the horse. Is that to be interpreted that now that the HPA commerce law is now being turned into an animal rights or a humane law or is that what is happening with these regulation changes?
A19: For the first part of your question, the current petition that is out on federal register right now was received from the HSUS. We when we receive formal petitions we are required to publish it and to put it out for comment from the general public;. The proposed rule that we have out right now is actually a USDA regulatory change that we are looking into implementing in the near future. As to the second question as to why after 30 some years we are doing this if that reflects an animal rights movement or something like that, no it does not. It represents after 30 some years we now have the support from the general public who has been crying for years about us being more judicious in our enforcement. This is just us responding to that in terms of the enforcement of the HPA the way it it should be enforced. We're trying to work diligently with those HIOs in carrying that out.

An excellent question to clarify what the differences are. I'm glad someone asked that. It can get confusing.

Technically, the USDA does not have the authority to change the type of law the HPA is. That would have to come from Congress. However, as is written in the Act itself, the USDA has full authority to use any means necessary to protect the welfare of the horse.

Q20: Back the outlaw shows. You say that you're judiciously doing what the HPA says. How many shows since 2002 on outlaw shows not ones that are HIO shows have you attended? And I kinda know the number and I would like for you to tell the general public that's listening. How many have you went to?
A20: I don't have that information right in here but if you'd like to make that request for you we can certainly get it together for you.

Let's point out that this has become an inappropriate question. This has nothing to do with the proposed rules. While it's a good question, it needs to be presented to the USDA through email or the Freedom of Information Act office. They don't have every little detail in front of them concerning all aspects of the HPA and the industry--they are here to only answer questions about the proposed rules at this time. And I certainly don't blame them for making a guess as to the number of shows they've been to--an incorrect guess would be a bad thing.


One more post starting with Question 21 will be coming to finish off the Q&A session from the stakeholder's meeting. To listen to the meeting, click here.

As always, don't forget to comment! Click here for the page for making comments.

Monday, May 30, 2011

RESEARCH - Q&A From USDA Stakeholder's Meeting May 27, 2011: Part 1

As you all know by now, the USDA held a stakeholder's meeting over conference call on Friday, May 27 to let the public know about the proposed changes to the HPA. The Walking Horse Chat recorded the meeting and posted it. Click here for the link.

First, it's important to note that the changes proposed are the same as the mandatory required penalties that all the HIOs were required to include in their rulebook as of January 1, 2011. However, SHOW, PRIDE, KY HIO, and HOA all refused to make the changes.

To recap, here are the changes proposed. The USDA will remove the reference in 11.2(d) to assessing penalties set forth in the rulebook of the certified program under which the DQP is licensed. Instead, that paragraph would require HIOs to assess and enforce penalties for violations in accordance a new paragraph 11.25, which would add the regulations and would contain the penalty protocol, as follows.

- To include violations that require a suspension to suspend the individuals including, but not limited to the owner, manager, trainer, rider, custodian, and seller, as applicable, who are responsible for showing the horse, exhibiting the horse, entering or allowing the entry of the horse in a show, exhibition or sale.

- A bilaterally sore violation would require a one year suspension for the first offense, a two year suspension for the second offense, and four years for the third and all subsequent offenses. The horse will be disqualified for the remainder of the show.

- A unilateral violation would require a 60 day suspension for the first offense, 120 days for the second offense, and one year for the third and all subsequent violations. The horse will be disqualified for the remainder of the show.

- A scar rule violation would require a two week suspension for the first offense, 60 days for the second offense and one year for the third offense and all subsequent violations. The horse will be disqualified for the remainder of the show.

- Foreign substance violations that are found pre-show will result in disqualifying the horse for the remainder of the show. Post-show foreign substance violations will result in a 14-day suspension and disqualify the horse for the remainder of the show.

- Equipment violations will directly follow the penalties for the foreign substances.

- Shoeing violations, including heel-to-toe ratio, will result in the horse being dismissed from the remainder of the show, whether found pre- or post-show.

- Unruly or fractious horses and horses that cannot be inspected will be dismissed from the class but can return in future classes at that show for inspection. A six month suspension will be incurred for each occurrence.

- All suspensions will be served consecutively and not concurrently. The amendment will include a hearing process to be instituted and any violation of the suspension would result in an additional six month suspension.

I was going to transcribe the whole audio for the meeting, but honestly, it would just take me way too long. So below is the Q&A portion of the meeting, and I have paraphrased the questions in italics. My thoughts follow the questions in regular print. If you notice any discrepancies between my paraphrasing, please feel free to let me know.

I also am going to break this post up into three parts as it's already getting really long. So the other two parts will be finished within a couple of days.


Q1: How are these rules to be enforced? The penalties sound great, everything sounds great but how will this be enforced?
A1: There will be additional changes coming to the regulations that will impact the enforcement. Currently what we're doing right now is putting in a penalty protocol that all HIOs must follow and if they don't follow it then they are subject to decertification. We have clarified the decertification process. This is an enhancement of the current rules that are in place that have not been adequately followed or adhered to by the current HIOs.

Note: he says an ENHANCEMENT. This is exactly what this new proposal is to be viewed as. It enhances the current rules and regs of the HPA. The USDA is given the authority to make these changes per the HPA in order to better enforce the HPA. They must present it to the Secretary of the USDA and he/she must approve it.

Q2: Who is this being proposed to? Is it to the Secretary?
A2: When we put out the proposed rules it's being proposed to all of our stakeholders and the general public. That's why it's on a public website and people can make comments on it. We review the comments and then we will see if we will go further with the current proposed rule or make changes or decide how to go further with it.

As I have further researched and understand this, the USDA needs to post this publicly for various reasons, which they did not do in the beginning when they required the rules to be included in the new rulebooks. However, this does not negate putting these rules in the new HIO rulebooks, and the HIOs still need to follow these requirements or they face decertification.

Q3: First, is there going to be an additional definition of equipment violation or can there be better clarification for equipment violation since it covers a broad range? And second, for the new penalty protocol is there any renewal or time that this resets or is this lifetime accumulation?
A3: First, the equipment are listed in Section 11.2 in the horse protection regulations, and also in the proposed rules it will define this further. Also, we will not take comments on the proposed rule but clarification questions are okay.

This is the answer to Q3's second part from later in the Q&A session.

A3: At this time we're not looking at changing it after it would be implemented so there would not be any continuing changes into the penalty structure unless it's necessary at a later time.

I think they misunderstood what Q3 was asking here. I think Q3 was asking if the penalties would be lifetime for the horse/trainer/owner/etc. But I could be wrong on that.

Q4: These are the penalties that were required in our rule structure for 2011, is that correct? And I am aware that there are two or three HIOs that didn't include the penalty structure. Have they been decertified or is the department looking into the procedure for that?
A4: Yes. Second, we are looking at procedures for that and we haven't actually decertified them as of yet.

Q5: First, can you tell us anything additional abut the further documents that are referred to that are now being developed the further regs being developed. Second, is the dept studying in any way or concerned in any way with uniformity of digital palpation in the form of using an algometer or in any other way?
A5: At this time we can't speak about the further proposed rules that we're looking into. They the revision of the regulations is being looked into very thoroughly because of the OIG audit from 2010. These are possibly the reasons why we'll be changing the regulations. There was concern about the DQPs with the digital palpation issue outlined in the OIG audit in that the DQP program be abolished from the complete inspection system. We aren't looking at doing that. We're looking at licensing and training those inspectors under the USDA. So we will hopefully be looking at having more uniformity and working a lot closer with the inspectors to make sure they're trained accordingly. We aren't looking at algometry at this time.

It seems pretty obvious that they can't talk about the rules they're now working on since first, this discussion is about the current rules that are being proposed, and second, they haven't finalized the next set yet.

Currently, each HIO is required to train their own DQPs. This is an excellent choice by the USDA to train the DQPs themselves rather than relying on the HIOs, since as the OIG audit shows, many of the HIOs have not been doing their jobs. To clarify for those who don't know, an algometer is a handheld device that measures sensitivity to pain through pressure. While this is a great tool, the only problem is each horse is an individual, just as each human is an individual, and therefore one horse's level of pain may be lower than another, whether sored or not. So this could present some problems in the long run.
Q6: Where is it in writing that you can certify and decertify HIOs?
A6: Under the HPA we have the authority to certify as well as decertify HIOs as they are not following the inspection guidelines as they are in Section 11.21.

So in other words, go read the HPA and don't just go on what you hear others say about it. I've heard this excuse as well, but if you go read the HPA you will see that all authority is given to the USDA to change and/or enforce the rules as they see fit, and this includes decertifying HIOs. Come on, people--if you're going to challenge the USDA, have your proof to back it up, like in the below question.

Q7: In the HPA it plainly states that anything the USDA does involving the TWH industry should not hurt the industry in any way. Can the USDA explain to us the fact that they want to suspend owners on something that they have no knowledge about is going to benefit the industry but rather would hurt the industry?
A7: The focus of our responsibility of the HPA is focusing on what is to the benefit to the horse. If you are the owner of the horse then you are responsible for knowing how that horse is treated and cared for. This is the whole reason why the HPA was put in place. So we will focus on the welfare of the horse first and those who are are responsible for the welfare of the horse.

THANK YOU DR. GIPSON. Come on, owners: STOP PRETENDING YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON. We all know you're full of B.S.--this excuse has been going on for years. He is exactly right: it is your responsibility as an owner to look out for the welfare of your own horse. If you want to win at all costs, don't choose an industry where winning has proven to be equivalent with breaking the law. A horse is not a machine--it is a living creature that knows pain. If you don't care if the horse is in pain or not, then go buy a stock car or find another sport to participate in where an animal's welfare is not at stake.

If you're worried that the changes will hurt the industry, then obviously something fishy is going wrong. No one complains when new laws are put in place to deter burglars or illegal immigrants except the burglars and illegal immigrants and those who support breaking the law by supporting them. If the industry falters because of these changes, that is the industry's fault, not the USDA's. Again, the industry is continuing to fight against the USDA instead of seriously fighting to end soring. If you would have ended soring in the first place, then this would never be happening.


Part 2 starting with question 8 will be posted tomorrow.

AGAIN, please don't forget to comment! Click here to make comments on the new penalty structure. Click on Comment Due under Horse Protection Act: Requiring Horse Industry Organizations, etc. COMMENTS ARE DUE BY JULY 26, 2011!

Friday, May 27, 2011

NEWS - USDA's Stakeholder's Meeting May 27, 2011

I listened in on today's stakeholder meeting held between the USDA and any interested parties who wanted to listen and ask questions about the new penalty protocol. Starting today, the new structure is online and there is another section for public comments. NOTE: This has nothing to do with the HSUS/ASPCA/FOSH petition.* Please don't get them confused!

This is the same structure that four of the 12 HIOs have refused to add to their rulebooks as of January 1, 2011. Dr. Gipson assured us today that those HIOs will be decertified and they are working on the paperwork for that.

I also must point out that I got the following quote from the Walking Horse Chat. This is information they received from the USDA.

The USDA also references a future document under development that will 'propose' additional changes to the regulations consistent with the OIG audit report. The USDA states they expect these changes and the ones in the forthcoming document to enable the Horse Protection program to "successfully eliminate soring." However, they warn that if they do not, they will "seriously consider taking substantially more restrictive action, including, but not limited to, prohibiting the use of all action devices and pads."

I am going to write a blog post about my thoughts on the stakeholder meeting. But I think that overall it went extremely well. There were some excellent questions that were raised, from both the side of the industry and the sound horse side. The USDA had legal and appropriate answers for all of the questions. I was very impressed with most of the questions and answers--most were logical and to the point.

In the meantime, here's the link to the audio of the meeting from the Walking Horse Chat.

Click here to make comments on the new penalty structure. Click on Comment Due under Horse Protection Act: Requiring Horse Industry Organizations, etc. COMMENTS ARE DUE BY JULY 26, 2011! Please be sure to read the penalty structure information BEFORE making comments! We need logical and informed comments--off the cuff remarks will not get our point across.

Overall, I think everyone will be satisfied with how it went, no matter where you stand. My next blog post will be up this weekend!

*We still more sound horse comments on the regulations petition! Click here to submit your comments. COMMENTS ARE DUE BY JUNE 13, 2011 - DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

NEWS and ARTICLE - HIOs Agree To Penalty Recognition Accord

This is great news that I was given from Thehorse.com. Click here for the article. I posted the article text below so everyone can read it.

The International, NWHA, SSHBEA, SHOW, Kentucky WHA, MFTHBA, Western International WHA, HOA, Oklahoma WHA, WHOA, FOSH, and PRIDE have all agreed to mutually honor fine penalties issued for HPA violations. This means that people will be considered on suspension until the fines are paid. In this way, the people who are violators can't show or exhibit horses until ALL phases of the penalty have been finished. The HPA database will be one of the sources that show management can use to find out of any of their exhibitors are currently on suspension and/or have paid the fine.

In the past, exhibitors were allowed to show as soon as their suspension was done without having paid the fines. Now they will have to pay the fine to be able to show again.

This is a great step towards making change. Let's just hope it's enforced since we all know there are plenty of exhibitors out there who still show even though they are under suspension. Let's hope the HIOs are made aware if they allow someone to show who is under suspension and are punished accordingly. If you go to a show and see someone is showing while still under suspension, you can anonymously report it to the USDA. This will help with getting violators to own up for their actions in abusing horses.


HIOs Reach Penalty Recognition Accord

by: Pat Raia

May 16 2011, Article # 18251

Horse Protection Act (HPA) violators who do not complete all phases of penalties levied against them could be disqualified from exhibiting animals at Tennessee Walking Horse and other gaited horse shows under an agreement reached by a group of Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs).

The HPA prohibits "soring," the deliberate injury of a horse's feet and legs to achieve a high-stepping so-called "big lick" gait. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service enforces the Act, certifies HIOs that sponsor horse shows, and trains Designated Qualified Persons (DQPs) who are hired by HIOs to inspect horses presented for exhibition at the horse shows they sponsor.

The International Walking Horse Association; National Walking Horse Association; Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association; Sound Horses, Honest Judging, Objective Inspections, Wining Fairly; Kentucky Walking Horse Association; Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association; Western International Walking Horse Association; Heart of America Walking Horse Association; Oklahoma Walking Horse Association; Walking Horse Owners Association; Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH); and Professional Regulation and Inspection for Dedicated Equestrians (PRIDE), all agreed to mutually honor fine penalties issued for HPA violations, said FOSH president Lori Northrup.

Under the agreement, the 12 HIOs will all consider an individual on suspension until all fines connected to the violation are paid. The USDA's HPA violators database will be used as a source for penalty information, Northrup said.

The agreement is intended to prevent HPA violators from exhibiting animals until they have completed all phases of penalties levied against them.

"Some HIOs issue a fine and a suspension for HPA violations, but some people will just complete the suspension phase of the penalty and not pay the fine," Northrup said. "This closes that loophole."

Sue Hamilton, director of PRIDE, views the agreement as a positive step toward promoting HPA compliance.

"We're going to have to work together if we want to make progress," Hamilton said.

David Sacks, APHIS spokesman, said the agency welcomes the HIOs’ decision to collaborate.

“By agreeing to honor each others' Horse Protection Act penalty actions, the HIOs will further assist in our combined efforts to prohibit sored horses from participating in shows, sales, exhibitions, or auctions,” Sacks said.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

NEWS - TWHBEA's Petition Response


TWHBEA released their response to the petition on Tuesday, May 3. I don't have the online link to the response in front of me, but I will post it once I get it. Below is the information from TWHBEA via the Walking Horse Report.


TWHBEA Files Response To Request For Comment

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) has filed its response to the request for comment with the United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA posted its notice in the Federal Register regarding the petition for rulemaking and the official comment period runs through June 13, 2011. Anyone can file comments, including individuals.

The TWHBEA Executive Committee voted yesterday, May 2, 2011, to file and release the following response drafted by Tom Kakassy and others from TWHBEA. TWHBEA also decided to file its response individually and not in conjunction with other industry associations. TWHBEA feels strongly it should make clear its position as the official breed registry yet welcomes other associations and individuals to review its response and use it to formulate their own response or comments.

The original petition for rulemaking was filed by the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Horse Protection Association, Inc., Friends of Sound Horses, Inc. (FOSH) and former Senator Joseph D. Tydings.


Now I have to give TWHBEA credit on this one: their response is well written. They also don't affiliate themselves with any HIO, which I also believe is a very good choice.

But, as we can tell, their petition does cater to those who continue to allow soring at their venues. Again, TWHBEA has not chosen to support the new mandatory penalties, and therefore they are also encouraging people to blatantly ignore the law. They also the HSUS in particular in the conclusion of their petition based on conjecture on their part. They say that disqualifying scarred horses for life is an "apparent attempt to stop the showing of padded performance horses," which is absolutely not true--we all know that flat shod horses can be just as susceptible to scarring as stacked horses can as chemical soring is also used on them. Plus they are basing this conclusion on speculation yet again. I can't imagine the USDA would be all that upset if the stacked horse went away; perhaps then some of this nonsense would stop.

TWHBEA also claims that implementing required minimum penalties and permanent disqualification would be "an excessive use of authority." I don't see how the USDA can possibly be excessive in their authority when they've allowed soring to continue for the past 40 years. A sudden change where the USDA is actually using their authority will be a shocker since they've been so complacent in the past. It's kinda like a teenager with a cell phone whose parents pay the bill and he's racked up all kinds of texting charges. The parents try grounding him, talking with him, reasoning with him, all to no avail. Finally, they take away his phone completely, and the teenager freaks out. He's used up all his chances, and the parents have tried to be reasonable. Now it's time to take action so the abuse of this privilege ends.

Overall, it's impossible to trust groups like TWHBEA, SHOW, PRIDE, and all the other HIOs who still have soring violations every year because they are so resistant to ending it. It is possible to end if it the HIOs would stop fighting and start taking the law seriously.

Again, be sure to get your comments in so the USDA can know where we stand and why we want to see a true change to end soring forever!

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