I decided to look up information on the judges for this year's Black Week. There a five judges for the Celebration. Four of them are HPA violators. From the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration new page on their website:
"The 2011 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration will feature 12 years of Celebration judging experience within the five members of the judging panel. Jennifer Bingham,
Shelbyville, Tenn., Jamie Hankins, Paris, Ky., Ronnie Spears, Tullahoma, Tenn., Jamie Bradshaw, Union Grove, Ala., and Jeff Willis, will adjudicate the 73rd Annual Celebration." Shelbyville, Tenn.
Jamie Hankins - 3 violations: 7 months in 1990-1991, 2 weeks in 2002, and ticketed in 2010.
Ronnie Spears - 6 violations: 6 month suspension from USDA in 2001, 1 month in 2008, and fresh off a 6 month suspension that started and ended (quite conveniently) during the off season, from 10-2010 to 4-2011. He also received 3 tickets in 2010 in June, July and September, so that recent suspension could be for one of those tickets.
Jamie Bradshaw - 2 volations: 8 months suspension in 1998-1999 (again, during the off season) and 2 weeks in 2003
Jeff Willis - 3 violations: 9 months in 2002-2003 (also during the off season), 2 weeks in 2004 and 2 weeks in 2005.
Let's also remember that Hankins was the judge at the show last month where the bad image horse was not only allowed to show but he didn't even excuse the horse from the ring.
Note also that three of the four of the really long suspensions were during the off season of showing, and they were allowed to resume their duties right when show season was underway. This seems particularly suspicious to me.
It saddens me to know that these poor creatures will be judged by those who have committed a crimes against them in the past. I see it like having a burglar watch your house while you're out of town. I don't understand why, when the industry says they want to end soring, still hires those who are documented violators to be BOD members, officers, judges, DQPs, and the like. I believe this is a continued example of why soring will not be stopped within the industry and why we absolutely need to law to be upheld by the USDA.