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HPA and Proposed Rules

Editor's Note: Press Release from WHOA

On December 9, 1970, the Horse Protection Act (HPA/the ACT) was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. It was introduced in the 91st Senate as S-2543 by Senator Joseph Tidings. In the 46 years since it became law, the HPA, and its' subsequent regulations, have received a great amount of attention throughout the nation, and even globally. 

As American citizens and horse industry stakeholders, we have watched and participated during this journey until present day, when, on July 26, 2016, new language was introduced to further amend, through regulation, the Horse Protection Act. 

Since being signed into law, the HPA has undergone directives known as regulations that began in 1976 with the addition of non-USDA employees that were trained and certified as inspectors by the USDA that created the Horse Industry Organizations (HIO's) and Designated Qualified Persons (DQP's). In 2011, the HPA Regulations were adjusted to include a Minimum Penalty structure, creating a sweeping across the board penalty structure for all violators. As you may recall, this amendment was reversed soon after its' passage through a lawsuit challenging it's validity. 

Now, lets' go back to basics for a quick reminder of what we are dealing with. For most of us, it's been years since we learned this in Civics class, and we're a little rusty on the facts.

An ACT is nearly always primary legislation. It is the law that the U.S. Congress has enacted into the law of the land.

LAWS are the products of written statutes or ACTS, passed by either the U.S. Congress or state legislatures. These bodies create bills that, when passed by a vote, become statutory law.

For example, in response to horse welfare issues in 1970, Congress passed the Horse Protection Act in an effort to curb abusive practices and apparent deceptive marketing issues. The HPA is a commerce and trade law, as noted by it's inclusion and location of the United States Code. The Act is codified by the United States Code as Title 15, Chapter 44- Protection of Horses. 

REGULATIONS, on the other hand, are standards and rules adopted by administrative agencies that govern how laws will be enforced. An agency like the USDA/APHIS can have its own regulations for enforcing laws pertaining to agriculture and related industries. Federal Regulations are created through a process known as RULE-MAKING which is governed by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). A graphical illustration of this process can be found at

Like laws, regulations are codified and published so that parties are on notice regarding what is or isn't legal. Federal regulations specify the details and requirements necessary to implement and to enforce legislation enacted by Congress.

Congress enacts the legislation that mandates or authorizes agencies to issue the regulations. Through the APA and other laws, Congress also establishes the procedures that govern agency rule-making. Congress may use a variety of processes as part of the oversight of agency action. 

Section 4 of the HPA directs the Secretary of Agriculture to prescribe, by regulation, requirements for these changes. The Secretary is further authorized under section 9 of the HPA to issue rules and regulations as he deems necessary to carry out the provisions of the Act.

Once an agency decides that a regulatory action is necessary or appropriate, it develops and typically publishes a proposed rule in the Federal Register, soliciting comments from the public on the regulatory proposal. After the agency considers this public feedback and makes changes where appropriate, it then publishes a final rule in the Federal Register with a specific date upon which the rule becomes effective and enforceable. In issuing the final rule, the agency must describe and respond to the public comments it received. 

The Federal Register is the official daily publication for agency rules, proposed rules, and notices of federal agencies and organizations, as well as for Executive Orders and other presidential documents. 

That being said, the newly proposed regulations to the HPA contain guidelines that seem to be too broadly written, and lack sufficient language that could be open to interpretation instead of clear and concise directives. This language includes sweeping changes to the previous rules, and, more importantly, many of these elements will change the breed and eliminate horse shows and events as we know them.

As you may know, there are numerous elements to this proposal, in addition to the widely publicized prohibition of pads, hoof bands, and action devices that will drastically affect the future of horse shows and the ability to participate in them. Among these are:

  1. The use of any weighted shoe on horses, except a keg or similar conventional horseshoe.

  2. The use of halters instead of bridles when carrying a horse through inspection.

  3. The abolishment of the HIO system and DQP's 

  4. The use of Veterinarians and Vet Techs as Horse Protection Inspectors hired and trained by APHIS/USDA but paid by show management.

  5. Horse Show Management responsibilities and liabilities with an increased role in reporting and operating horse shows, horse exhibitions, horse sales and auctions.

  6. The increased costs from these proposed elements will have to be passed on to owners and exhibitors to continue providing horse shows and events.

We urge every industry stakeholder to read and familiarize yourself with the proposed changes prior to commenting.  Public comments will be accepted until October 26, 2016, and may be submitted electronically or by mail.

Please be aware, that individual comments are very important, and certain key elements and notable information that you provide may help to establish groundwork to tweak or open the door for exploration of certain elements of the proposal.

When commenting, be sure to include your personal involvement within the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, the portions of the proposal you strongly agree or disagree with and why. Be sure to illustrate points you wish to make with FACTS and FIGURES when possible. 

For more information on how to submit your comments, please go to:  .

As American citizens and industry stakeholders, it is imperative that your voice be heard through personal public comment! All comments are published, and may be viewed and submitted!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0009. If mailing your comments, please send them to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs; OMB, Attention: Desk Officer for APHIS, Washington DC 20503. Please state that your comments refer to Docket No. APHIS-2011-0009. Remember, the deadline for comment is October 26, 2016!



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