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A Column From Congressman Bart Gordon Keeping The Walking Horse Industry Strong



Over the years, I have worked closely with owners, trainers, and participants, as well as officials in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Horse Show Commission, to develop a fair way to regulate the industry. As you know, an agreement on a balanced, uniform three-year operating plan for the walking horse industry was reached.

I am pleased that a new three-year operating plan is being drawn up because the current plan expires at the end of this year. The operating plan, which represents a multi-year regulatory agreement between the USDA and the walking horse industry, establishes long-term procedures for protecting the horse while ensuring equity for the owners, trainers, and exhibitors.

I am also pleased that the “Follow-the-Horse” method for the Scar Rule has been agreed to by the USDA and the walking horse industry. For years, I have fought for fair application of rules and violations. Rather than risking the livelihood of owners and trainers, violations should “follow the horse.” This method will also serve to better protect the horse.

I have always believed that Department of Agriculture inspectors need to be held to the highest standards of conduct. I understand that the only way the operating plan can be successful is through a mutual trust. That is why I am encouraged by the ongoing discussions between the nine Horse Industry Organizations and the USDA and recent changes in the VMO corps. As you may know, Dr. Michael Guedron is no longer with the USDA.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are from the walking horse shows I attended in Middle Tennessee. These shows, while important to family and community, also provide an important outlet for charities and civic organizations. I will continue to work toward a consensus on the remaining unresolved regulatory issues and other matters so the walking horse industry will continue to thrive.

I hope all my friends in the Walking Horse family will continue to provide me with their ideas and concerns so I can remain their voice in Washington.

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