Posted June 25, 2001

by David L. Howard

David Bradshaw didn't roll over - he fought and won.

After almost three years and countless thousands of dollars, David Bradshaw handed the United States Department of Agriculture a significant defeat in their effort to convict him of violating the Horse Protection Act.

When I asked him why he fought the case when so many others settle, he said simply "I didn't do it." But he resued to "settle his case" either by accepting a suspension from the National Horse Show Commission or entering into an agreement with the USAD to pay a fine and serve a suspension.

His treatment by the USDA has been cavalier. They sent a news release to his hometown paper announcing the charges; they have carried his name on their suspension list and provided it to other sources that print these lists even though he has appealed every decision and is innocent of the charges.

Even today, his name is still appearing, as being on suspension and his hometown paper has not received any news release from the USDA announcing his innocence.

But David didn't let even that slide - he went to his local paper, gave them the facts and a story was published explaining the case and David's innocence.

Unfortunately, a USDA news release charging him with breaking a federal law three years ago and holding him up for contempt and ridicule in his local community cannot be overcome by a follow-up article so long after the initial allegation. His name is forever tarnished in some people's eyes, although his courage and commitment in fighting for his innocence and rights should be an inspiration to everyone.

David and his attorney believed the deck was stacked against them in the hearings in front of Administrative Law Judges, who are employess of the USDA. But the law requires you go through this process before you can get to federal court. It is a time consuming and expensive process and most people settle their cases for just those reasons.

The legal arm of the USDA knows that and takes full advantage of it in dealing with the people against whom they bring charges under the Horse Protection Act.

But David Bradshaw refused to be intimidated or compromise simply because "I didn't do it." How refreshing when so many of us compromise on issues of importance because it is the easiest thing to do.

My hat is off to David Bradshaw. We need him back in the horse business.