Copyright 2005 - On August 11, 2005, the National Horse Show Commission, represented by David Landrum, Lonnie Messick, and Jerrold Pedigo, attended a meeting with the United States Department of Agricultural, who was represented by Dr. Chester Gipson, Dr. Allan Hogue, and Dr. Todd Behre. The meeting was requested by the NHSC and was held at USDA offices in Riverdale, Maryland, (just outside of Washington, D.C.).

The purpose of the meeting was to address ongoing issues, related to the Horse Protection Act, that affect the NHSC and the Walking Horse Industry. Four main topics were discussed. They are as follows:

  1. Technology
  2. Federal cases against individuals who have already had their violations processed by the governing HIO.
  3. Scar rule
  4. USDA’s relationship with the NHSC and those that represent the NHSC.

Upon addressing each topic listed above, many questions and sub-parts of each topic were discussed. A brief summary follows.

As to Technology, the USDA expressed their desire to explore various techniques that will lead the inspection process to be more of a science than an individual interpretation. The Gas Chromatography, the Algometer, and the Thermal Vision machines are all being reviewed and studied to determine their usefulness in enforcing the HPA.

As to the Electronic Sensor Technology’s Z-Nose (Sniffer), the USDA has been gathering swabs from horses at random, at various shows across the nation, that are affiliated with various Horse Industry Organizations, (HIO). The USDA has come to no conclusion regarding the future use of any of these technologies as an enforcement tool at this time. Much more research, analyzing, and eventual conclusions must be reached before they would be proposed for enforcement. It is the NHSC’s intent to participate in the research and conclusions of these devices as to their use and application in this industry.

As to item number 2 above, there are a few individuals who have recently received notice of a federal charge being brought by the USDA against them related to a violation that has already been processed by the governing HIO. It was requested that the USDA investigate the possible “double jeopardy” that was taking place and to take steps to correct the improper action. It was further requested that if the USDA, at any time in the future, should have reason to question that the appropriate hearing process and or penalties were properly conducted and/or given, then we would welcome their inquiries into any case and will provide the necessary information and evidence to the USDA that will verify that each and every case was handled per the Operating Plan.

In regards to the Scar Rule, it was presented to the USDA that much concern existed throughout the Industry as to the consistency of findings as it relates to this issue. As to each and every entry the USDA might come to inspect, they were encouraged to evaluate each entry with the objective, that to be determined out of compliance, an entry must be one that the inspecting VMO, in all fairness, would conclude that 100% of his VMO colleagues, upon an independent inspection, would agree with his or her findings. For inspections to be fair and equitable, the findings must be consistently repeatable by other independent inspectors, who are similarly trained and educated. It was noted that the current method of joint training between the USDA’s, VMO’s, and the HIO’s DQPs should result in a consistent agreement regarding any inspection, thus providing credibility to the Industry for both the USDA and the NHSC.

As to item number 4, the NHSC realizes the importance and value of good communications between the NHSC and the USDA. It was pointed out that the NHSC desired to work closely with the USDA and requested that the Department inform the NHSC of any and all conflicts that may exist now or in the future with any of the NHSC’s representatives. The USDA did not report that any conflicts existed now or in the past. The NHSC representatives pointed out that it is very important that the NHSC work in partnership with the USDA and be consistent in our enforcement. The NHSC is committed to fair and equitable enforcement of the Horse Protection Act. 

The subjects were discussed at length and in great detail during the almost three-hour meeting. We hope and believe that the meeting was very productive for both sides.

Finally, we wish to thank the many owners, exhibitors, trainers, and show managers who have placed their confidence in the NHSC. We will strive to provide the best service possible for the Walking Horse Industry.


Jerrold Don Pedigo, Chairman

National Horse Show Commission