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HSUS Applauds USDA

Copyright WHR 2007

Editor's Note: The following news release was provided to the Walking Horse Report by the Humane Society of the United States. Bear in mind that this release was sent to publications across the country and will be printed in many local papers and magazines. So if you wonder why people across the counry have a bad opinion of our horse, just look at what they read daily.

Also, note the strong penalty levied by the judge in this case - $117,000 in fines and a 10 year suspension. And the list of facts that are in the release will be repeated by reporters writing future stories as part of their research. They will be repeated again and again. Remember Papa Charcoal.

Finally note the fact that the HSUS has 10 million members - one member for every 30 Americans. Our largest membership is the TWHBEA with 18,000 members - HSUS has 556 members for each member of the TWHBEA.

(June 22, 2007) – The Humane Society of the United States today hailed the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its successful prosecution of a case under the federal Horse Protection Act (HPA).

The case involved Tim Holley, a Tennessee Walking Horse trainer in Byhalia, Miss. who was found guilty of showing a horse while the horse was sore and then, while under a one year disqualification from showing as a result of that violation, continued to show 35 more times – each time incurring an additional violation of the Act. The Administrative Law Judge in the case assessed total penalties of $117,000 against the respondent, and disqualified him from showing, judging or otherwise participating in any horse show, exhibition, sale or auction for a period of 10 years.

“We commend the Office of General Counsel for successfully prosecuting this case against a flagrant violator of the Horse Protection Act,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “The magnitude of the penalties imposed should send a strong message to those who sore horses - a barbaric and illegal practice designed to inflict pain and suffering. These actions should not go unpunished, and penalties should be severe.”


Soring is the intentional infliction of pain through the use of chemicals, action devices and other pain-inducing applications to the foot of the horse, which artificially induces the animal to react with a high stepping gait and achieve a competitive advantage in the show ring. Soring is still practiced today despite USDA efforts to regulate it.

The Horse Protection Act was enacted by Congress in 1970 to prohibit the public exhibition or sale of Tennessee Walking and other gaited horses that had been sored. 

The USDA recently announced that it would prosecute federal cases against violators at any show its inspectors attend that is affiliated with a USDA-certified horse industry organization (HIO) inspection program that has not signed the Department’s 2007-2009 Horse Protection Operating Plan. The Plan allows those industry groups that sign it to assume primary enforcement and penalty responsibilities, and establishes the acceptable penalties and protocols for enforcement under the HPA.

In the current version of the Plan, USDA imposed stiffer penalties than in the past, causing some HIOs to opt not to sign the Plan, and thus returning USDA to its original role of primary enforcement authority, as stipulated in the Act.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization – backed by 10 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs.

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