"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

Thursday, September 1, 2011

ARTICLES - More Information on Stallions Denied Entry

I discovered today that this particular article was written before the article I put in the prevoius post that was their interview with the USDA. I'm going to go through this article line by line.

Overall, though, I have a big question for those who are defending these guys: WHY? These guys have violated the HPA, which also means they have violated the SHOW rulebook for the Celebration. Therefore, they've basically been caught cheating. Why are you helping them out by defending them? Why aren't you mad? I know I would be if I were showing in the same classes as these guys. How fair is it to those who are trying to show clean to know that these guys were going to be in the same classes as them with sored horses?

And the Celebration board, who is also the SHOW board, what are you going to do about it? Again, these guys were caught cheating at your show. Are you going to dole out the proper punishment?

Here's the link to the article. Below I have copied and pasted it and included my comments.


Eight stallions denied; inexperienced VMO criticized

Tuesday, August 30, 2011
By SADIE FOWLER ~ sfowler@t-g.com

Discrepancies inside the inspection area at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration last Saturday night resulted in eight horses being turned away from a chance to compete for the walking horse World Grand Championship.

Inspectors representing SHOW (Sound Horses, Honest Judging, Objective Inspections and Winning Fairly), the Celebration-sanctioned horse industry organization that ensures horses are in compliance with the Horse Protection Act, passed all but two horses of the 15 that showed up for the aged stallion competition classes.

But USDA officials denied six more horses from competing, including two which had already passed pre-class inspection by those same USDA veterinary medical officers (VMOs).

VMO criticized

At least one trainer and the veterinarian who oversees the SHOW inspectors say one VMO is too inexperienced to judge the Celebration.

"I think the VMOs were not experienced at all," said Dr. Steve Mullins, adding that he had expressed his concerns about the alleged inexperienced inspector. "The answer I got was, 'He's learning on the job.' Learning on the job? At the world championship horse show?"

Dr. Doyle Meadows, Celebration chief executive officer, also agreed some of the USDA inspectors are not experienced enough.

"All our trainers want is for people who are fair and consistent," Meadows said. "You can't have VMOs check horses two times a year and be consistent."

Really, Mullins and Meadows? Mullins, who said that to you, and how do we know what you've said is true? And who are either of you to decide if a VMO is experienced or not? You guys picked the DQPs for the show, and therefore I believe that is a sure sign that you're going to pick people who will do the work you WANT them to do.

Something we all need to remember: VMOs are licensed veterinarians who work for the USDA. They have multiple jobs, including inspecting slaughterhouses, studying herd and flock health, and other such duties the USDA is tasked with. Being a HPA inspector is only part of their job. So I know I would trust a licensed veterinarian over some backyard breeder with no veterinary experience who takes a quick class to become a DQP.

Inspection process

SHOW inspectors, known as designated qualified persons (DQPs), are charged with inspecting horses for the Celebration and many other shows throughout the year, but the USDA's VMOs are allowed to inspect as well -- and they have the final say in who shows.

"I stand behind my guys," said Mullins, referring to the SHOW inspectors. "They are committed -- committed -- to keeping sore horses out ... The government (USDA inspectors) have bragged on us all year long, and they wanted to make a statement. And they did," said Mullins, wondering why USDA inspectors suddenly differed with SHOW inspectors' calls.

Are they really? Then why are the VMOs finding horses that are sore and the DQPs conveniently are not?

Of the six horses turned down by the USDA VMOs, five of those were inspected both pre- and post-show by multiple American Association of Equine Practitioners veterinarians, all of whom said the horses were in compliance, Mullins said.

And the AAEP vets were PAID weren't they? And you brought them in, didn't you? Plus, they are not trained in the inspection process, so how exactly are they inspecting the horses?

Mullins said industry DQPs inspected 20,000 horses last year and 12,000 horses this year to the approval of the USDA. He said the USDA chose to inspect about 2,000 horses alongside the industry inspectors this year and the two organizations only disagreed on whether or not about three horses were fit to show, Mullins said.

Yes, and industry DQPs are paid to keep quiet. We all know this. The number of violations sky rockets when the USDA shows up.

At press time, the USDA had not yet answered the T-G's request for more information about the experience level of USDA inspectors at Saturday night's show.

McConnell upset

In an article published in Sunday's Tennessean, well-known and respected trainer Jimmy McConnell shared his comments after his two contenders were turned down.

Respected? What respect does this man deserve? He just got off a 2-week suspension in May, and here he is allowed to show again. I have no respect for him or the industry for letting him show again.

Dark & Shady was turned down prior to the B section and his second contender, Up For Parole, was cited for a violation of the scar rule -- a rule that's been said by industry leaders to involve too much subjectivity -- after he showed in the A section.

"They were unreasonable," McConnell told the Tennessean. "The one that checked my horse didn't know what he was doing. His first show was Jackson, Miss., (March 31-April 2, 2011) and here he is checking the world championship show. That doesn't make any sense."

And who are you to say that he didn't know what he was doing? Are you a licensed VMO or DQP?

Look, McConnell, man up and do the right thing. You sored the horse, you got caught. That's how it goes. Stop blaming everyone else for what is ultimately YOUR responsibility. But really, this is typical criminal behavior.

McConnell, who has earned the World Grand Championship honors three times since 2004, declined to comment further when contacted by the T-G.

Contenders hit

In 1974, the Horse Protection Act was passed to protect horses from being "sored" to achieve a higher, more extreme gait.

Wrong date--it was 1970. And let's note here: they specifically state the act was passed "to protect horses." Not to protect the industry, not to protect anyone but the horses themselves.

In 2006, the industry came under fire by the USDA when only a handful of horses passed inspection before the Celebration's World Grand Championship class. One of the horses which did pass that year, Rowdy Rev, a four-time world champion and a favorite going into this year's show, did not pass inspection Saturday.

"My understanding is that he bumped himself getting off the trailer and they were hoping he'd make it through and show, but he didn't," Mullins said.

And they tried to show him, of course! So it's their fault they got the ticket! If your horse bumps himself in the trailer and you're worried about him passing inspection, don't show him. It's not that hard!

And that is one of the WORST excuses I've ever heard. ANY veterinarian is going to know the difference between a horse bumping himself and soring scars.

Plus, there certainly are A LOT of TWHs that bump themselves in the trailer before a show, or who get hurt in the pasture and have scars. It makes me wonder about the care of these horses in that they get beat up so much. I know plenty of other horses, my own included, who have gone their whole lives without their pasterns getting beat up and scarred.

Bill Bobo, trainer of Rowdy Rev, owned by Bill Harlin of College Grove, expressed his disappointment in not getting to show but said the show must go on.

"I hate it for the horse and the owner," Bobo said. "But he (the owner) knows this is the horse business and it's all part of it ... Once a horse is turned down they can't show back so (this year's show) is over ... (Harlin) wants to continue to show him. There's a show in Sparta next week and he wants to show him there. We'll try him again next year."

Good call, Bobo. I'm glad to hear you are taking the high road and not blaming everyone else.

Saturday night, nine horses competed in the aged stallions splits, classes 80A and 80B. Folsom Prison Blues, ridden by Rodney Dick of Unionville won the A division. Gary Edwards of Dawson, Ga., won the B division with Game World.

Puttin' Cash On The Line with Justin Harris up took reserve in the A division. The Golden Sovereign with Tim Smith finished reserve in the B division but that was taken away when he was cited for a scar rule violation following the class.

Thorough checks

Meadows said walking horses are the only breed he knows that is inspected to the degree of the walking horse.

Not true. Endurance horses go through a far more rigorous check that no Big Lick horse would EVER pass. I've watched it, and the horse is far better protected in the endurance world than in the stacked horse world. A horse will get pulled for the slightest heartbeat above normal, for the slightest sign of lameness, and it is all to protect the horse. And you know what? The riders accept the result and move on. They don't whine and complain and blame everyone else for their horse not being fit enough to continue.

"I'm not a fan of post-show inspections," he said. "If you've ever shown a horse then you understand that there are so many things that can happen (during the show), just like with a human athlete."

Of course you don't like it, because any chemical that has been used to mask the pain has worn off by the time the horse is in the ring, so now he'll show up sore. Or the rubbing of the chain and sweat of the horse can make scars from soring more visible.

In addition to Dark & Shady, Rowdy Rev, and The Golden Sovereign, Moody Star is another well-known contender which will not be eligible for the World Grand Championship Saturday night. He is last year's reserve world champion.

The Celebration activated SHOW two years ago to oversee the inspection process. "We activated SHOW and made a commitment to enforce the Horse Protection Act because it's the law," Meadows said.

"We established a comprehensive and consistent inspection program that would assure us that only compliant horses would be allowed to show. Dr. Steve Mullins and Tony Edwards, DQP coordinator, have done the industry a tremendous service with the organization of SHOW," he said.

No, you didn't, and no they haven't, or you would have ended soring when you first started SHOW. Your board has a violator on it, your judge and DQP lists are mostly made up of violators, and you reward those who continue to sore by allowing them back in the ring (case in point: McConnell).

"These DQPs, who do not have conflicts of interest, check horses every week and I have more confidence in them than anyone else that is hired to enforce the Horse Protection Act.

The DQPs are made up of farriers, owners, and other people who service the industry. They are not completely biased nor are not without COIs.

Meadows said overall, he feels like the inspections this week have gone well. He is hopeful the World Grand Championship class will be strong. Nine preliminary classes qualify for the big stake so more entries could make it to Saturday's championship.


In some good news, the violation count is up to 120 as of this morning! The USDA is getting those sore horses out of the ring! I have also heard that many people are scratching horses, quite possibly because they know they can't get them through the inspections. Be sure to send your emails to the USDA to tell them what a stellar job they're doing in saving the horse!


its no secret. said...

This is really crazy. People line up to get autographs from trainers who are known for horse soring and has been on suspension. We live in a crazy country to see people line up to get autographs from animal abusers.
This article is in the Times Gazette Shelbyville Tn.

Several of the best known Tennessee walking horse trainers took time away from the National Celebration to celebrate their fans by signing autographs at World Champion Horse Equipment on Madison Street. Russ Thompson of Unionville, left, chats with Vicki Self of Lewisburg while Billy Gray of Shelbyville autographs a collectible Breyer horse display. A steady stream of walking horse fans kept the trio busy signing a variety of memorabilia

meathead0408 said...

Until you truly understand what the walking horse industry is about, why don't you leave it be??

For the Tennessee Walking Horse said...

meathead, I absolutely DO understand what the TWH industry is about. It's about abusing animals for entertainment and money.

For the Tennessee Walking Horse said...

Thank you for the information, INS. And meathead, if these people are signing autographs and the like, then I think they are doing just fine.

Sad Walking Horse Owner said...

This is just insane. The HPA has been in effect since 1970, and STILL horses are being turned down at the inspection stations for soring.

Will these people ever learn?

No- No they will not. Not until all that artificial stuff is banned. Not until all action devices are banned from the show grounds as well as the show ring. Not until they are allowed to show ONLY with up to two pads or no pads like in the "old days" before the soring and the padding started.

And the absurdly heavy shoes need to be banned as well along with the hoof bands needed to heep them on.

I can't believe people are asking these guys for autographs. Come on people, many of these trainers have been caught over and over again violation the HPA.

They have been suspended over and over again for these violations.

The trainer who won the 2011 Celebration served a TEN year suspension- if he really did serve it. All the same, I bet he was still at the shows, still at the barns and still soring horses - just not actually riding them in the ring during this time.

I agree with its no secret- It is just crazy that people line up to get autographs from horse abusers.

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