Editor's Note: The following letter from USDA-APHIS outlines a review of the 2021 season as well as changes the USDA plans to implement for the 2022 show season.

To Whom It May Concern:
Congratulations on completing a successful 2021 show season! Below we have provided you with data from the 2021 show season along with pertinent updates to the USDA Horse Protection (HP) program and inspection process. We are excited for the 2022 show season and we hope you share in that same sentiment.

In 2021, the HP impact was:
• Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs) reported 209 affiliated events totaling 49,002 entries inspected with an overall compliance rate of 99%.
• USDA attended 22 events totaling 713 entries inspected with an overall compliance rate of 69%.
• The four HIOs participating in prohibited substance collection identified 49 horses (out of 1,305 sampled) bearing a prohibited substance (3.8% positive rate). USDA will offer to partner with all HIOs in 2022 to continue expanding prohibited substance testing at events in which USDA is not in attendance.

USDA will implement or continue the following for the 2022 show season:
• In order to establish proper identification of all horses pursuant to §11.2
Prohibitions concerning exhibitors subpart (e) Information requirements—horse related; horses must be accompanied by the correct back tag for inspection. Additionally, USDA will re-institute the use of iris scanners at certain events to confirm the horse’s identity prior to Designated Qualified Person (DQP) inspection.

• Following §11.21 Inspection procedures for designated qualified persons (DQPs) subpart (a)(4), any horse that is presented in a manner where the custodian cannot maintain control while holding the reins at approximately 18 inches or other actions or paraphernalia are used to distract the horses during examination will not be allowed through inspection. The horse will be excused and not allowed to participate in the event until it can be presented for inspection in an appropriate manner.
•USDA will no longer return sore horses to DQPs for re-inspection however will continue to refer sore horses to DQPs for inspection.
• Requests for USDA second inspections must be made to the APHIS Show Veterinarian and will be granted if the APHIS Show Veterinarian determines sufficient cause for re-inspection.
• USDA will pilot a new inspection protocol involving two Veterinary Medical Officers at certain events.
• USDA will be field testing new inspection technologies throughout this season for potential implementation during the 2023 season. 

We appreciate your time to read this update. We look forward to continuing to work together toward achieving our common goals. If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Dr. Aaron Rhyner at 970-494-7484.

Betty Goldentyer, DVM
Deputy Administrator Animal Care