"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, January 31, 2012

NEWS and ARTICLES - NWHA Results from the 2011 National Investigation

I know I'm putting this on the blog really late, and I apologize for not getting it up here sooner.  I've had other issues to attend to to help the sore horse.

On January 25, 2012, NWHA released their findings from the investigation concerning the 2011 National issues.  I talked about what happened in this previous post.  I've copied and pasted the memorandum by NWHA below.  Click here for the online memo.  My comments are after the memo.


To:      NWHA Members
From:  NWHA Board of Directors
Date:   January 25, 2012
Re:      Issues Arising From the 2011 National Show

The NWHA Board of Directors takes seriously circumstances or events that impact the integrity of NWHA and credibility of its mission, that of gait keeper for the sound horse.  Therefore, it is imperative that any procedural or substantive shortcomings within NWHA (whether real or perceived) are identified and addressed so these problems do not occur again and NWHA can move forward in its mission.

The Board has used due diligence and exercised its fiduciary duties investigating, finding facts, and working to both resolve issues and ensure the problems will not be re-occurring.  In the spirit of transparency and the genuine desire for an outstanding 2012 show season, we share with our members, by way of the attached report, the resolution of this matter.  It is our desire that evaluation, admission of problems, and awareness of need will result in positive change and growth.

Thank you for seeing this through with us . . . it IS about the Horse!

Findings of Facts & Resolutions of Issues Arising from the 2011 NWHA National Championship Show

       1. It became evident at the 2011 National Show that NWHA’s Designated Qualified Persons (DQP’s)
           have been taught two different methods of shoe measurement using the Go/No-Go Tool.
       2. Tickets were written at the 2011 National based on measuring the shoe “all the way around”
           with the Go/No-Go Tool.
       3. Currently, the procedure for measuring a shoe with the Go/No-Go Tool is neither standardized or
           in writing.
       4. At the 2011 National, a DQP used the procedure he had been taught to measure shoes.
       5. Tickets were written based on the measurement procedure the DQP had been taught.
       6. When Jim Potter received a ticket, he questioned the procedure in order to understand and brought
           the shoes, in question, into compliance.
       7. Mr. Potter did not protest or question the ticket.  He did question the DQP Director about the
           correct procedure.
       8. In compliance with NWHA rules, all tickets stood as written.
       9. The DQP Director was called and asked what was the correct procedure.
     10. Dr. Gordon Lawler questioned the DQP’s knowledge of the procedure and use of the tool.  This
           action is in violation of NWHA Rule 2.2 E.  Dr. Lawler has acknowledged the rule violation and has
           apologized to the NWHA through the Board of Directors.
     11. The DQP served out his shift in full authority as the Show DQP per the NWHA and HPA rules.
     12. The next day, the DQP, during his off duty hours, presented on the grounds with a Styrofoam model
           of a shoe and solicited conversation with exhibitors outside the DQP area.
     13. The DQP Director was called by Lori Snyder-Lowe to inform the DQP Director that the DQP was
           communicating with exhibitors.
     14. The DQP Director relieved the DQP of all further duties at the 2011 National for communicating with
           exhibitors in direct violation of NWHA Rule 11.4 D.  This action is distinguishable from the HPA rule
           that a DQP may not be dismissed while performing his duties as a DQP.  He was not on duty.  
           Therefore, there was no violation of the HPA rule.
     15. Due to the discrepancy in shoe measurement using the Go/No-Go Tool, the NWHA Executive
           Committee determined an equitable approach to eligibility for championship classes as needed and
           provided the same.
     16. At no time did NWHA question the validity of the tickets written.  None were rescinded.

   B. Resolutions
       1. Immediate suspension of use of the Go/No-Go Tool until a written protocol for measurement is
          developed and taught to all of the DQP’s.  It is the goal of the Board to have this instruction take
          place at the February 2012 DQP Training Clinic.
       2. A policy and procedure manual for all DQP procedures shall be developed and maintained with
           updates as needed.
       3. The DQP Director shall be in attendance at the National Championship Show for all days that have
           rail classes.  This requirement shall be a part of the DQP Director’s job description and in the DQP
           Director’s contract with NWHA.
       4. All DQP inspections at the National Show shall be videotaped.  NWHA also reserves the right to
           video warm-up arenas.
      5. An Ethics Committee shall be established.  The committee will consist of three (3) NWHA
          members, preferably with law enforcement or legal backgrounds.  The single purpose of the
          committee shall be to field concerns from Judges or DQP’s who have either observed unethical
          behavior to or by a DQP or Judge, or have been the victim of unethical behavior.  The DQP or
          Judge must contact all three committee members within 24 hours of a perceived issue to initiate an
          investigation.  SOP’s for the committee shall be immediately promulgated.
      6. A DQP Committee shall be established.  The committee will consist of three (3) NWHA DQP’s and
          the DQP Director.  Duties will include:  review of DQP applicants; review and revision of rules and
          regulations applicable to the DQP and DQP program; establishment of operating procedures; review
          and provide information to the Board, DQP’s, and members concerning USDA rules and regulations;
          review and evaluation of the DQP Training Clinic and refresher courses; and, review and evaluation of
          the DQP program.
      7. Clarify NWHA Rule 11.9 A which identifies the persons allowed in the DQP inspection area by
          revising Rule 11.9 A in this manner:  the words “NWHA Officials” shall be changed to “Show
      8. Dr. Gordon Lawler shall receive a letter of censure for conduct unbecoming a Director and for
          violation of NWHA rules.

    A. Findings of Fact
        1. Connie Holbrook, in her capacity as Show Secretary, confirmed she told the DQP at the 2011
            National Show about a person on the show grounds who was not an exhibitor, trainer or owner of a
            horse that was entered in the show, but was on the grounds and in the arenas with bands and no
            Coggins.  Ms. Holbrook requested assistance by the DQP to remove this person from the
       2. Connie Holbrook went with the DQP to deliver Jim Potter’s ticket.  The DQP requested her
           assistance as show management in accompanying him into the barns.
       3. Connie Holbrook made the remark to DQP’s “Folks from the dark side are watching us” but did not
           target or name anyone.
       4. Connie Holbrook made the statement “He’s a bad dude” in answer to the DQP’s question, “Who’s
           the big man?”  The person she was referring to was not an exhibitor, trainer or owner of a horse
           showing at the 2011 National.

    B. Resolutions
        1. Connie Holbrook was acting within her official duties to escort the DQP to the barns.  This duty
            had been delegated by show management.
        2. Connie Holbrook rightfully alerted the DQP to a person on the grounds with bands and in the
            arenas. While self-policing is a vital element of NWHA’s successful mission, it must be
            undertaken so as not to target or encourage wrongful communications between the DQP and
            management or exhibitors.  Therefore, a protocol for communication with the DQP by an
            exhibitor or by show  management relative to concerns of NWHA or HPA violations will be
            developed and implemented  immediately.  This protocol will require all communication be in
            writing, signed, and presented to show management.  Show management will present it to the
            DQP.  A paper trail for complaints will assist in decreasing inappropriate communication with
            DQP’s and/or unfounded targeting as well as identifying baseless rumors.
        3. Connie Holbrook used poor judgment in making subjective statements about a person to the DQP.
            She will be given a letter informing her to refrain from such statements in the future.
        4. A protocol for providing “self-policing” information to the DQP’s shall be established.  The protocol
            shall require a written and signed information form in which complaints relating to another’s
            behavior or observations of horses with a bad image can be initiated.  It shall be filed with the
            Show Manager, Office Manager, or Horse Show Committee Chair as is appropriate and shall be
            filed within six (6) hours of identifying a perceived problem or it will not be accepted.  The Show
            Manager will present the written complaint to the DQP.  No exhibitor, trainer or horse owner
            shall have a conversation or contact with the DQP other than when taking a horse through
            inspection.  The Show Manager or designee shall be the ONLY person to present the written
            complaint to the DQP with regard to complaints by exhibitors, trainers or owners.

     A. Findings of Fact
         1. Rumors concerning undue influence were propounded against Lori Snyder-Lowe.  However, no
             evidence was presented or found to substantiate these rumors.  The Board of Directors, after
             careful inquiry, refuses to act on rumor and, therefore, finds this matter closed.


I want to point out some very important things here.  NWHA actually did something about this.  Instead of pretending nothing happened or hiding information, they put forth an investigation and came up with excellent solutions.  Starting an Ethics Committee, clarifying rules, and writing standard procedures are going to make a major difference.

Of course, not everyone's going to be happy with the results.  I do know there were a few things that happened that I personally would like to have seen addressed.  Many of you know about the "leak" to the Walking Horse Report, and the WHR is continuing to bash NWHA to try to shut them down.  I believe the leak should be found (if he/she hasn't been already) and held accountable for his/her actions.  But that was not part of the issues for this particular meeting.  However, I believe that this has been handled extremely well.  I think that NWHA took steps that no other HIO would take in these circumstances.  They worked toward the integrity of the association and following their association's rules.  Most other HIOs would have buried the situation and left it at that since they continue to support the sore horse.  I think anyone who is an NWHA member should be at least satisfied with that fact.  I'm very happy this board stepped forward and did what was right!

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