In an article in the Shelbyville Times Gazette, the USDA's Dr. Todd Behre shared some interesting observations. Bear in mind that the USDA has only been to four shows all season and has been strangely quiet, except for three listening sessions.

Dr. Behre is quoted as saying, “his team has stepped back somewhat from standing over the DQPs. It's not the USDA's job to inspect horses. I've read volumes this spring through formal publications, communications with industry leaders and chat rooms about how the industry is doing its best to clean itself up. We will find out if they have the fortitude to do that.”

Dr. Behre went on to say “It's the job of the HIOs to get this done. As we evaluate the fitness and functionality of the HIOs, we will see whether or not they are able to do so. Basically, we've decided to sit back and watch them work.”

While the USDA has only been to a few shows thus far, this does not mean that they will not be coming to future shows. “The apprehension about when we will show up is greater than when we do show up. Everyone knows we are due for a visit somewhere, whether it's the Fun Show, Germantown, or somewhere else.”

The USDA has hosted three listening sessions and Dr. Behre has been pleased with the response, calling the last session in Kentucky the best. “What I've learned in the last six months is that by and large trainers and owners don't think the application of a caustic chemical to a horse's leg is soring. They call it 'fixin,' 'squaring up,' or 'touching.' They don't recognize it as soring.”

Dr. Behre attended a show in Lexington, Virginia and personally swabbed 76 horses. “I didn't see anything that remotely looked like a chain, grease, or saran wrap. These horses had incredibly beautiful strides.” The Report encourages our readers to visit the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service site and review the comments being made at the listening sessions.