State Regulators Investigate Breeder Incentive Recipients

Kentucky Walking Horse Association (KWHA) President Earl Rogers says he’s cooperating with Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) investigators looking into the Horse Protection Act (HPA) compliance records of KWHA members who collected cash incentives through the Kentucky Breeders' Incentive Fund.

"All our HPA suspension lists have been turned over," Rogers said. "Whatever they say we will abide by."

The breeders' incentive program offers financial rewards to breeders who produce horses bred by Kentucky stallions from mares living in the state. The fund was established in 2005 to attract and retain racing and nonracing horse breeders statewide. Program funds are derived from state sales taxes on stud fees, and they are administered by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Incentive revenue is distributed through state breed associations. The KWHA is one of nine nonracing breed associations eligible to draw revenue from the program.

According to commission figures, KWHA breeders received $387,506 of the total $1.3 million nonracing breed incentive fund last year.

Jaime Eads, the fund's director, said the KHRC is investigating whether some KWHA members who received incentive funds violated federal Horse Protection Act (HPA) regulations against soring. This practice is defined as the use of caustic chemicals and other techniques to achieve an exaggerated high-stepping gait in Walking Horses.

The KWHA has a historically high HPA noncompliance rate during horse shows where USDA inspectors screened horses for soring. According to statistics compiled by anti-soring advocates Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH), the KWHA had 90 times more HPA violations in 2007 at horse shows where USDA inspectors examined horses than at shows where KWHA Designated Qualified Persons conducted inspections.

Rogers claims KWHA noncompliance is high because USDA inspectors do not apply inspection standards fairly. Rather than risk being found in violation, some association members decline to take part in shows where USDA inspectors are present.

Eads declined to disclose penalty options if the probe reveals HPA violators have received incentive fund money.

"The investigation is ongoing," she said. "First we have to know if we have a reason to exercise options."

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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