"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

Saturday, October 27, 2012

NEWS and ARTICLES - More HR 6388 Support, "Weighted Shoes" Issue, and HSUS Files a Friend-of-the-Court Brief Against TWH Industry

And please do it more than once to emphasize the importance of this to be passed!
Go to www.senate.gov and www.house.gov and go to the upper right corner to find your Congress person.

Just click on Comments in the upper right corner and type in your name.

More Support of HR 6388

So, has everyone been keeping an eye on POPVOX?  We've gotten even MORE co-sponsors from our government: 46 total!  It's pretty amazing how our government officials are standing up behind the changes.  And why not?  It's an easy amendment to include into the HPA, it costs the government no money to instigate, and it will create a few more jobs.  It seems to be a no-brainer!

"Weighted Shoes" Issue

Now, there's been a lot of talk about the wording of the new amendment.  Basically, people are upset about the use of the word "weighted shoes" in the addition to Section 1824, paragraph 13.  How much weight do they mean?  And they are worried about the words "strictly protective and therapeutic in nature," thinking that this means any shoe other than a keg shoe (Section 1824, paragraph 13C).

Some of our FTTWH writers and Facebook participants have spoken with the USDA, and they have confirmed that the goal is NOT to take away the max shoes used by the sound HIOs.  Their goal is to eliminate the tungsten shoe and other such shoes that are specifically used for cheating in the show ring.  Clearly, they are fine with the shoeing regulations by such HIOs as FOSH and NWHA--particularly NWHA, who uses the 1 1/2" shoe, since they have been to many of their shows this past year and haven't found any sore horses.  (See NWHA's rulebook here--shoeing rules are Section 8.3, page 19.)  The USDA has said they want to work with the industry to find the weight/shoe size that will be allowed in the ring without the need for bands.

Then we were given this information from Keith Dane (reposted with permission from Keith):

My understanding is that the bill prohibits the use on Tennessee Walking, Racking and Spotted Saddle horses of a weighted shoe that is not strictly protective or therapeutic in nature.  Although they could have specified in the bill what the maximum shoe weight allowed would be, the sponsors wanted the regulators, the veterinary community and the stakeholders in the industry to have input into the decision about what the maximum weight should be.

The USDA would seek that input and determine what the maximum weight is for a shoe that is strictly protective or therapeutic, and specify that maximum in the new regulations which will be promulgated under this law when passed.  Any shoes that is less than or equal to that maximum weight will be allowed.  Any shoes that exceeds that weight will be prohibited.

Here's what I ask folks to consider: if you don't like the wording of those bits, PLEASE don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.  We still need support of HR 6388 because shoeing is not the only part of the amendment that needs our attention.  It will strengthen penalties and make soring much more difficult to do, and therefore soring will become a rarity instead of the commonality it is today.  So, write to you Congress person ans tell them you support HR 6388 as long as the term "weighted shoes" and/or "protective or therapeudic in nature" are defined.  It's very simple.  We need the stronger penalties to pass, and most of us want all of the other devices out of the show ring, so please at least show your support of those parts of the amendment.

My own opinion is this: as far as I understand, the TWH should be born with the true flat walk and running walk.  It should come easily under saddle with classical training and a horse should be conditioned to show in the show ring.  The shoes are not supposed to make the gait--they're ONLY supposed to enhance it.  So why should the shoe matter?  Enhancement is only necessary for the pleasure of the viewer, not for the horse.  Unfortunately, the entire TWH community--sound and sore alike--is too hung up on shoes.  All of our divisions are based on the type of shoes the horse is wearing.  It's gotten ridiculous.  Why do we no longer focus on the talent of the horse and instead are focusing on his shoes?  The focus seems to be more on protecting the shoes over protecting the horse!  In my truly honest opinion, I have absolutely no problem with some severe restrictions by the government on the shoeing.  I personally have no problem with NWHA's shoeing rules, and I think those should be the standard.  NWHA has proven to keep sore horses out of the ring due to their shoeing rules and their diligence, and that's the attitude that everyone needs to adopt.

HSUS Files a Friend-of-the-Court Brief Against TWH Industry

Click here for the article; copied and pasted below.

Okay, I have to admit that I have no clue what a "friend-of-the-court brief" is.  So I looked it up.  The correct name for this is amicus curiae, Latin for, literally, "friend of the court."  An amicus curiae is someone who volunteers to offer information to assist the court in deciding any matter presented to it.  A brief is usually filed in matters that concern the public interest, like soring. They can be filed by private entities or by the government itself.

So, the HSUS has asked the federal judge to rule against the TWH industry and help uphold regulations to stop the abuse.  I imagine they also provided their own collected information, such as the McConnell video, to help the judge make his decision.

I'm glad to hear they were allowed to file a brief in the first place.  It will certainly be telling to the judge to learn the statistics that show soring is rampant and that the HPA does include due 
process.  Let's hope this case gets settled soon.

The Tennessean.com

Humane Society files walking horse brief
October 26, 2012

The Humane Society of the United States filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Friday, asking a federal judge to rule against the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and uphold new regulations to stop abuse.

U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations introduced earlier this year would standardize penalties for soring — injuring walking horses to encourage their unusual gait — across 12 private groups licensed to inspect horses at shows. Among those is Shelbyville-based SHOW horse inspection organization, which sued the USDA over the regulations.

SHOW’s suit, filed in Fort Worth, Texas, claims the new regulations essentially deny accused trainers their constitutional right to due process.

“By challenging these regulations, the walking horse industry has made it clear that it has no interest in cleaning up its act and getting rid of the brutal practice of soring,” Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president for animal protection litigation and investigations for the Humane Society, said in a media release.

The group’s undercover video of a famed walking horse trainer soring a horse brought national attention to the problem. The USDA announces its new regulations weeks after the video’s release.

SHOW officials have said their soring penalties already are among the toughest in the industry.

— Heidi Hall The Tennessean

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