USDA inspectors concerned about possible "horse soring" at Tollesboro fair
MISTY MAYNARD firstname.lastname@example.org | Posted: Friday, July 22, 2011 10:00 pm
Concerns about a practice called "horse soring" prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to send an inspector to the Tollesboro Lions Club Fair July 15 and 16, said Dave Sacks, a USDA spokesperson.
Four citations were written as a result of the USDA's presence, Sacks said. The inspector's presence also likely contributed to a smaller amount of participants in the horse show, said Paul Hampton, horse show manager and Lions Club member.
"Any show they've been to, it affects them big time,"
The total amount of horses for both nights this year was just 135, compared to the more than 300 horses that were shown during the Friday and Saturday nights of the horse show last year,
According to the USDA, soring is the practice of applying a chemical, such as mustard oil, overweight chains or trimming a hoof to expose the sensitive tissue inflicted on any limb or a horse that can cause the horse to suffer physical pain or distress when moving.
"The practice of soring horses is aimed at producing an exaggerated show gait for competition," according to the USDA. "This practice is primarily used in the training of Tennessee Walking Horses, racking horses and related breeds."
According to the USDA, a similar gait can be achieved through selective breeding and humane training methods, but soring achieves the exaggerated gait with less effort and in less time.
Soring was outlawed under the federal Horse Protection Act, passed in 1970.
"We don't go to all shows, but certainly when we do go to a horse show we want to make sure no horses are being sored," Sacks said.
Animals are inspected by a designated qualified person before every show. When a USDA inspector come to a show, Sacks said they oversee the DQP process to make sure all protocols and standards are being followed.
Craig Stanfield, second vice president of the Lions Clubs, said horse soring has never been an issue at the Tollesboro fair and animal health is the number one priority. However, some exhibitors did not want to "take the chance" and left the show.
"It is a legitimate concern," Stanfield said of soring. "I just wish it didn't harm us nonprofits."
Friday, one violation was discovered. The horse had two sore feet. The Friday night violation will be a federal case, Sacks said.
Three more violations were discovered Saturday. Two horses had one sore foot each. Another violation was for a foreign substance.
All of the violations were for "padded" horses.
"The one violation listed as a federal case will be addressed by USDA, while the other three violations will more than likely be handled by the horse industry organization for that particular show," Sacks said. "For the federal case, our investigators must first conduct their investigation, then the case information will be turned over to USDA's Office of General Counsel. So, any potential fine will come about after this legal process."
The fair is the Tollesboro Lions Club biggest annual fund-raiser. The Lions Club contributes to several community projects and provides glasses for those who cannot afford them. They have also spent $275,000 in the past four years on improvements to the fair grounds, which are open to the public for recreation year-round. The grounds include a walking track, baseball field and basketball court, Stanfield said.