By Jeffrey Howard

I get asked the question frequently “What can I do to help?”  First and foremost, recognize that our industry and the horse and sport you love are under attack by a radical group of activists that want to eliminate the sport you enjoy so much.

The Humane Society of the United States has a checkered past and has proven itself to be reckless with the facts and to associate themselves with shady characters.  I won’t use this forum to trash individuals as that isn’t relevant, however the same individuals bashing you once stood up and said the exact opposite.  As for motivation of their change of heart, I will let you figure that out.

The good news, the facts support the industry.  So first, please take the time to read the statement entered on the record at the hearing on the PAST Act by the Performance Show Horse Association (PSHA).  Click Here to read.  This document is full of factual information that supports the horse and sport you love so much.  Contact the Cavalry Group who is fighting daily for the agricultural industry against its opponents.  They are also fighting for you.

Second, contact your representative in Congress.  It would be best to visit them personally but if you can’t, give them a call, fax them a letter, send them an email or write them a letter.  Or better yet, do all of them.  If you need help drafting the letter or understanding the argument, read the PSHA statement, it will outline the devastation of this proposed legislation.  To find your representatives, visit  To find the members of the Commerce, Manufacturing & Trade subcommittee click here.

Even though opponents to the industry at the hearing chose to be loose with the facts, don’t fall in that trap.  Stick to your passion for the industry and the facts that back your position.  Although one of the HSUS witnesses stated that the 96.6% compliance rate didn’t mean anything because it was a self-policing number, be sure to point out that this number is actually the compliance rate at the shows the USDA VMOs attended and horses they, the USDA VMOs inspected and found violations indicative of soring.

And although another HSUS witness stated that other breeds that use a pad and action device don’t use them to animate the gait (I’m not sure what other reason they would use them), be sure to point out that the legislation also outlaws the use of weighted shoes and would eliminate close to 85% of the divisions currently offered at horse shows you attend.  And remember, the only science or study completed on this subject, the Auburn Study, showed that pads and action devices weighing 6 ounces or less don’t harm the horse. 

And please make this point.  Just because you don’t support the Whitfield/HSUS sponsored legislation DOES NOT mean you support soring, abuse to animals or any person that does so.  No matter how much money they have, no matter how much they pay people to label you, no matter the members of Congress they have under their control, stand up for your belief in yourself, your horse and your right to enjoy this sport. 

And finally, please find a way to support the efforts being undertaken by those groups that are fighting daily to save your sport.  And no, that doesn’t just mean a donation, it can mean time, it can be the recommendations above, it can be a simple thank you to those donating thousands of hours of their time.  If you don’t agree with every tactic or particular item, how about picking up the phone and calling someone to see if you can gain a better understanding of why something is being done or not being done.

In reality, those that don’t have an agenda and simply have the horse in mind see this very close to the same.  When you remove the radicals on both sides of this issue you find that a super-majority are for sound horses, the elimination of any soring that exists and a sport that promotes family values, honest competition and love of horses…and yes, competition.  Is the industry perfect?  No.  Is anyone?  No.  Are changes needed?  Yes.  Can’t every industry say the same?  Do we all agree on how to change?  No.

But this is about what YOU can do.  Please take the time to read and understand the issues and arguments.  Take the initiative and exercise your right to contact your representatives in Congress, I assure you that your opponent is doing so.  And pull together as a group and support what we all have in common, the horse.