HIOs Reach Penalty Recognition Accord

Horse Protection Act (HPA) violators who do not complete all phases of penalties levied against them could be disqualified from exhibiting animals at Tennessee Walking Horse and other gaited horse shows under an agreement reached by a group of Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs).

The HPA prohibits "soring," the deliberate injury of a horse's feet and legs to achieve a high-stepping so-called "big lick" gait. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service enforces the Act, certifies HIOs that sponsor horse shows, and trains Designated Qualified Persons (DQPs) who are hired by HIOs to inspect horses presented for exhibition at the horse shows they sponsor.

The International Walking Horse Association; National Walking Horse Association; Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association; Sound Horses, Honest Judging, Objective Inspections, Wining Fairly; Kentucky Walking Horse Association; Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association; Western International Walking Horse Association; Heart of America Walking Horse Association; Oklahoma Walking Horse Association; Walking Horse Owners Association; Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH); and Professional Regulation and Inspection for Dedicated Equestrians (PRIDE), all agreed to mutually honor fine penalties issued for HPA violations, said FOSH president Lori Northrup.

Under the agreement, the 12 HIOs will all consider an individual on suspension until all fines connected to the violation are paid. The USDA's HPA violators database will be used as a source for penalty information, Northrup said.

The agreement is intended to prevent HPA violators from exhibiting animals until they have completed all phases of penalties levied against them.

"Some HIOs issue a fine and a suspension for HPA violations, but some people will just complete the suspension phase of the penalty and not pay the fine," Northrup said. "This closes that loophole."

Sam Hamilton, director of PRIDE, views the agreement as a positive step toward promoting HPA compliance.

"We're going to have to work together if we want to make progress," Hamilton said.

David Sacks, APHIS spokesman, said the agency welcomes the HIOs’ decision to collaborate.

“By agreeing to honor each others' Horse Protection Act penalty actions, the HIOs will further assist in our combined efforts to prohibit sored horses from participating in shows, sales, exhibitions, or auctions,” Sacks said.

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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