Walking Horse Celebration Show Inspectors Ready

Federal Horse Protection Act (HPA) compliance inspectors will be out in force during this year's Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, said Rachel Cezar, DVM, coordinator for the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Horse Protection Program. The Horse Protection Act forbids soring, the deliberate injury to a horse's legs to achieve an exaggerated "big lick" gait.

Inspectors examine horses' feet for scars, and use thermography and radiography to detect soreness and non-compliant shoeing techniques.

"First, second, and third place-winning horses will all be subject to pre- and post-performance inspections," Cezar said.

Low HPA compliance has plagued the Tennessee Walking Horse industry's premier event in recent years. In 2006 inspectors temporarily shut down the event after finding high HPA noncompliance and violations of Tennessee's anti-soring laws. Several top competitors declined to participate, and no World Champion was crowned that year.

Since then, Celebration directors expanded inspection protocol for the event to include drug testing, tack examination, and barn and grounds inspections. In April, a new horse industry organization called SHOW (for Sound horses, Honest judging, Objective inspections, Winning fairly) assumed operations at the Celebration and other sanctioned Walking Horse shows.

The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration began Aug. 26. More than 1,700 horses representing 3,417 entries are expected to participate in the 11-day event that culminates in the naming of the breed's World Grand Champion on Sept. 6.

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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