Skip to content

An Editorial by David L. Howard



An Editorial by David L. Howard

 

            I have spent more hours and days than I care to admit in the past six months meeting with different industry groups and individuals over the future of this breed. In particular, the future direction of the various HIO programs, the potential for meaningful change in the definition of a sore horse, particularly as it relates to the scar rule, and the operating plan for next year.

            First the good news – virtually everyone I have met with shares the common goal of totally eliminating unsound horses from the show ring and have spent countless hours working to achieve that and a better system of enforcement. But the devil is in the details.

            The story starts late last year with the TWHBEA withdrawing from the Commission because they felt that the NHSC was not doing a good enough job keeping unsound horses out of the ring. In response, the Trainers and WHOA rallied together to continue and improve the Commission with several smart tactical moves including a working arrangement with the Kentucky HIO.

            The TWHBEA moved ahead refining and implementing their plan for a master HIO and subsequent meetings to work out the differences with the Commission yielded little of a positive nature. Attitudes soured and positions hardened on both fronts and personalities became as important as constructive dialog.

            Then along comes Tom Blankenship and the newly renamed National Horse Protection Society with plans to change the law to make sense of the definition of a sore horse. Funded by the old Show Horse Support Fund with $300,000, and donations from both Bob Medina and Bill Johnson, Blankenship set about meeting with the country’s top veterinarians and responsible officials in Washington.

            Blankenship’s mission expands as the veterinarians are insistent that a better structure be put into place to regulate the industry and eliminate unsound horses in order to gain their support. As a result, the Society ends up proposing still a third plan for enforcement that is somewhat different than both the existing Commission and the proposal from the TWHBEA.

            Meetings to reconcile the differences have not been fruitful even though I firmly believe all parties are striving for the same goal. The bottom line is that it simply makes no difference how good the rhetoric is or even how good the intentions are; if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success.

            And believe me, there is little or no trust among these groups and individuals and I have found myself in the position of having to keep silent while the groups argue and I feel both of them are wrong about certain parts of their plans. Unfortunately, if you disagree, you are not “on board” or you are on the “other side.”

            Well I feel pretty comfortable because all three groups have at one time or another questioned which side I am on. For me, there is only one side and that is what is best for the long-term future of this horse.

            And, in my opinion, what is best for the horse is a change in the law’s definition of a sore horse that is consistent with sound veterinary medicine and not open to such wide interpretation. Secondly, we need to address the proposed Operating Plan for 2007 and make sure that it is a workable and effective document with input from all segments of the industry.

            Lastly, we need a better enforcement system as it relates to violations of the Horse Protection Act and the rules and regulations that govern the breeding, sale and showing of horses. Far too often our enforcement people turn their heads when they see violations and when we do step up and enforce the rules and penalize the guilty parties, it’s a deep, dark secret and everyone assumes that nothing was done.

            It’s time we all stand behind our DQPs, judges and organizations as they go after violations instead of always blaming the people charged with policing our industry. When a horse is turned down, we should thank the DQP and tell the violator that enough is enough. When a judge sends one out of the ring, he should be commended.

            This industry must remain the master of its own house and remember – the horse business is not perfectible but it is improvable. No one individual or group has all the answers but we must not make the greatest mistake of all by doing nothing because we can only do a little. We should all do what we can.

            And if we all do that, it will be enough.

More Stories

  • EQUITANA USA Announces Show Dates Alongside New Collaborations

    EQUITANA USA and the Kentucky Horse Park are pleased to announce the official show dates alongside three new collaborations. The new EQUITANA USA show will run Friday, September 25 – Sunday, September 27, 2020, making it a complete three day shopping and educational equestrian event.  Read More
  • Walking Horse Trainers’ Auxiliary Scholarship Application

    The Walking Horse Trainers’ Auxiliary is a national non-profit organization dedicated to charitable organizations, such as the programs for handicapped riders, and the promotion of the Tennessee Walking Horse... Read More
  • Walking For Cancer coverage

    The Report will be providing live coverage from Walking For Cancer on ReporTV this weekend. Highlights from the show will be posted the following day. There will also be live results. Read More
  • Obituary – Emery "Rocky" Jones

    Emery “Rocky” Jones, age 64 of Columbia, TN passed away on April 19, 2019 at home with his family. Rocky was born in 1954 to the late Henry and Geraldine Woodside Jones. He worked at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin, TN for 47 years and knew everything about each breed of horse at the farm.  Read More
  • Members of Congress Should Reject HSUS Award

    The Humane Society of the United States recently released its scorecard for Congress. There’s much irony to be found in the situation considering the organization receives a “D” from CharityWatch and was recently embroiled in a major sexual harassment scandal in which the board of directors tried to cover for the alleged sexual predator CEO. Read More
  • Latest Issue 4 22 19

    Read More
  • Year In Walking Horses Dedication: Honey Badger

    Do you know what a honey badger is? If not, don’t worry about it … the honey badger really doesn’t care what you think because they know how awesome they are. A small, fierce mammal also known as a ratel, the honey badger was made famous after a video about it, narrated by Chuck Norris, went viral. Read More
  • Year In Walking Horses Dedication: Howard Hamilton

    Howard Hamilton has spent his entire life devoting himself to his family and the horse and he does it all for one very simple reason — love. He and his family literally love the horse with all of their hearts; Howard certainly plays his part in doing what he can to ensure the horse, the industry and the industry’s youth thrive. Read More
  • The Money Tree Classic selects Beard

    Walking Horse Trainers’ Auxiliary is proud to announce that Rollie Beard will judge the 36th Annual Money Tree Classic on July 5, 2019. The show will be held in Champions Arena.  Read More
  • Bedford Cancer Foundation announces plans for spring show

    The Bedford Cancer Foundation has announced it will again be sponsoring its annual horse show, scheduled to take place Saturday, April 27 at the Champions Arena on the grounds of the Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee. The show will feature 30 exciting classes including both flat shod and padded performance classes.  Read More