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Editorial - David L. Howard

A Call To Action...

By David L. Howard

To say this industry is facing it’s greatest challenge is to diminish the magnitude of the situation confronting us.  Are we up to the task?

Yes, the USDA is going overboard in their interpretation and enforcement of the “scar rule” in an effort to eliminate unsound horses.  In the process, they are unfairly penalizing horses and people who are committed to and showing compliant horses.

This has seriously damaged this industry and it is now up to us to do something about it.  If we eliminate the unsound horse and enforce the scar rule properly, we will survive and grow.  Are we up to the task?

SHOW carried that message to Washington recently with mixed results.  Now it is time for SHOW to implement their program to enforce the HPA and get the government out of the inspecting business, hopefully under the umbrella of the Operating Plan.   But Operating Plan or not, the goal is to eliminate unsound horses and protect and defend compliant horses from unjust treatment.

SHOW has had little support and encouragement from the other Horse Industry Organizations but to their credit they have tried to work with and through these groups - unfortunately with little success.  But the bottom line is still the same – SHOW has to enforce the HPA, develop the confidence and trust of the USDA and get this industry back on its feet.
Some would tell you that the USDA is trying to destroy the industry and there are certainly some groups trying to do that under the guise of protecting the horse.  But the USDA has better things to do and has nothing to gain by destroying our horse. 

Over 30 years on trips to Washington, I have had virtually everyone who has been over the program at USDA tell me they wish the industry would self-regulate so they could use their money and efforts on other issues.  I believe them and can assure you that the HPA causes far more aggravation for the USDA than it justifies.

The Operating Plan is an enigma and there is no right or wrong decision.  There are pros and cons that are being weighed every day but the time for a decision is upon us and everyone in the industry needs to support that decision.  This is not a time for second guessing and criticizing – right or wrong, a decision has to be made and there are no good options.

It is important that the plusses and minuses be communicated to the industry and we support the final decision.  Everybody communicating and working together is not an option – it is a necessity.  We are at the corner of WALK and DON’T Walk – and we have to take that first step.

Remember… triumph is often nearest when defeat seems inescapable and remember… the greatest mistake of all is to do nothing because you can only do a little.  Just do what you can!

Are we up to the task?

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