SHOW to Conduct TWH Celebration Inspections

The leader of Sound Horses, Honest Judging, Objective Inspections, Winning Fairly (SHOW) said the group will carry out Horse Protection Act (HPA) compliance inspections at the upcoming Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration despite a USDA determination that the HIO is noncompliant with federal rules.

The HPA prohibits soring--the deliberate injury to a horse's feet and legs to achieve an exaggerated, high-stepping gait. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) enforces the HPA, certifies HIOs that manage horse shows, and trains Designated Qualified Persons (DQPs) hired by HIOs to carry out HPA compliance inspections on horses presented at the shows. The annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is the premier event for the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.

In June APHIS announced a final HPA penalty rule requiring all APHIS-certified HIOs to assess penalties that equal or exceed minimum levels for HPA violations. The rule, which became effective on July 9, also stiffens penalties for repeat HPA violators. HIOs were required to demonstrate rule compliance by submitting to the USDA amended rulebooks containing final rule protocols.

Five HIOs, including SHOW, initially declined to comply with the USDA's amended rulebook request. The Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association and the Kentucky Walking Horse Association later submitted amended rulebooks to the USDA. SHOW and two other HIOs were deemed noncompliant with USDA rules. As a result, DQPs certified by SHOW and the other noncompliant organizations could be decertified by the USDA. If decertified, the noncompliant HIOs can appeal the USDA decision.

In a written statement issued on Aug. 1, SHOW president Stephen Mullins, DVM, said that the HIO will defend itself before the USDA and will conduct HPA inspections at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. This year's event will take place Aug. 22 through Sept. 1 in Shelbyville, Tenn.

"The Celebration will go on no matter what," SHOW's statement said.

APHIS spokesman David Sacks said that while the agency has initiated the process to decertify SHOW and the two other noncompliant HIOs, no final decision will be reached prior to the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

"The decertification process is not an overnight process," Sacks said. "Because the Celebration will occur before this decertification process will reach its conclusion, SHOW will carry out inspections at the Celebration."

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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