Skip to content

NAS hosts open meeting to continue review of inspection process



The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine hosted its third meeting looking at the inspection process under the Horse Protection Act for Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses and Spotted Saddle Horses. The scope of the project is as follows:

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will convene an ad hoc committee of equine veterinarians and experts with relevant experience and appropriate professional certifications or academic degrees to review the scientific and veterinary medical literature on hoof and pastern pain and skin/tissue changes on the pastern of horses, and evaluate methods used to identify soreness in horses (as defined in the Horse Protection Act* and the implementing regulations) for their scientific validity and reliability.

In attendance at the meeting included industry lobbyist Jeff Terhune who provided a summary of the day’s proceedings. During the first session of the meeting on February 18th, Colin Roberts from University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom presented on limb sensitivity and the use of palpation and thermography when determining sensitivity in competition horses. His experience focused mainly on jumping horses regulated under the Federation Equestre Internationale. (https://www.fei.org) Roberts spoke to the process of inspection utilized which includes two veterinarians palpating a horse while using thermography. During this process both veterinarians have to agree that the horse is hypersensitive after a reasonable number of times palpating. If both veterinarians agree then the rider is given the option to withdraw the horse from competition.

If the competitor chooses to move forward a third veterinarian performs an inspection utilizing only palpation.  If they are found in violation by this third veterinarian the horse is disqualified and there is opportunity for that owner/rider to be charged with animal cruelty. Other points Roberts made included there was no way to determine if the reason for hypersensitivity is caused by natural environmental factors or artificial ones and he admitted they don’t try to find out. He also stated that thermography is not an exact science and he would never base findings solely on thermography.  Roberts also stated that skin lesions can’t be a reason for disqualification.

During the second session of the meeting, Dr. Scott Stanley from the University of Kentucky presented on the use of drug testing and more specifically on drug testing he helped conduct at the 2014-2016 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. Stanley spoke to the conditions around his testing at The Celebration and the drugs, such as masking agents, that were tested. Stanley also talked about standard drug withdrawal times and mentioned that tranquilizers were the most commonly found drug during his testing at the Celebration.

Stanley did also comment depending on how and when the drugs are used can make it difficult to accurately test. Another key point Stanley made was that Tennessee Walking Horses are in line with other horse shows policies that not all shows are tested because of financial reasons and that at a competition a horse may be subject to multiple testing if competing multiple times, just as is the case with the United States Equestrian Federation.

The NAS committee will continue to host additional meetings as they attempt to complete their project. The next meeting time has not been set at this point in time. For additional information regarding the study, how to register to attend open sessions or to view previous presentations visit the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine here.

More Stories

  • Celebration releases tentative class schedule for 2021

    The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration recently formed a committee to review and recommend changes to the Celebration’s class schedule. The committee has met over the last couple of months and reviewed past schedules, participation levels, industry trends and other criteria to come up with an initial class schedule. Read More
  • Make plans to attend the National Trainers' Show

    Make plans to attend the 53rd Annual National Trainers Show scheduled for March 18-20, 2021 at the Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn... Read More
  • TWHBEA offers Youth Medallion Program for 2021

    The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association is proud to once again offer the Youth Medallion Program for the 2021 show season... Read More
  • Southern Championship relocates for 2021

    For many years the Georgia Walking Horse Exhibitors Association has sponsored and operated the Southern Championship Charity Horse Show... Read More
  • Walking In The Smokies stall deadline approaching

    The Walking In The Smokies Horse Show, scheduled for April 8-10, 2021, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is preparing for their first annual show and would like to send a reminder to anyone needing stalls that the deadline is March 15. Please contact Lexi Stinnett at 828-550-8520 to reserve stalls on the show grounds. Read More
  • Trainers' Show announces judges

    The Walking Horse Trainers’ Association National Trainers’ Show will be held at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn. March 18-20, 2021. Judges for the three-day event will be Wayne Dean, Newton Parks and Johnny Puckett. Read More
  • USDA prepares for 2021 show season

    The USDA recently conducted their virtual HIO training course for the 2021 show season. The USDA and industry recently received the final report from the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) and some of the recommendations in that report are communicated in the new processes the USDA will implement in 2021... Read More
  • WHOA hosts virtual awards ceremony

    On Saturday. February 20th, the Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) held their National High Point awards for 2020 on their WHOA Facebook page with winners who chose to be zooming in to accept their awards... Read More
  • WHOA to host virtual awards ceremony on February 20

    The Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) will recognize their award winners from the 2020 show season during a virtual awards ceremony on Saturday, February 20, 2021. The show will be broadcast live on WHOA’s Facebook page beginning at 6 pm central time. Read More
  • FAST Spring Showcase announces judging panel

    The FAST Spring Showcase is pleased to announce that John Fikes, Newton Parks and Sam Sorrell will judge this years’ two-day event. The show will be held at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn. April 16-17, 2021... Read More