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Industry Representatives Gather For Meeting



SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - Representatives from several industry associations gathered in Shelbyville, Tenn. on Monday October 25, 2010 to review the industry’s current state and future strategic direction.  Representatives from the Walking Horse Owners’ Association, Walking Horse Trainers’ Association, Foundation for the Advancement and Support of the Tennessee Walking Show Horse, Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association, Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and SHOW HIO Judging Committee and many others were in attendance. 

Frank Eichler, attorney for the SHOW HIO, facilitated the meeting and walked the participants though a presentation that outlined the current state of the industry, the progress of the SHOW HIO and current issues facing the industry.  Those issues focused mainly on the Humane Society of the United States petition and the USDA mandatory penalties for HIOs in 2011.

Contraction in the Walking Horse industry is a disturbing trend and is highlighted by a near 15% decline in the number of horse shows in the industry in 2010 versus 2009.  Also, in 2008 there were 72,952 entries inspected by the National Horse Show Commission and the Kentucky Walking Horse Association.  To date in 2010, there have been 45,834 entries inspected by SHOW, PRIDE and the Kentucky Walking Horse Association.

USDA attendance at horse shows throughout the industry has peaked in 2010 with USDA representatives in attendance at approximately 55 horse shows already in 2010.  This is compared to 37 shows in 2008 and 36 shows in 2009.  The USDA has repeatedly spoken of the “new age of enforcement” and these numbers bear that out.

Industry HIOs have lost some shows to non-affiliated or “outlaw” shows across the country.  There are over 450 documented non-affiliated shows that have taken place in 2010.  Without affiliations and trained inspectors, shows inherit liability for the condition of the horses and the overall image of the Tennessee Walking Horse stands to be tarnished by non-compliant horses shown, no matter the venue.

A progress report on the SHOW HIO was given that updated the attendees on the last 18 months.  This included the replacement of DQPs from the inherited NHSC DQPs, the steps taken in improving the inspection process and the acknowledgement of the effectiveness of the SHOW DQP training.

The decrease in the number of violations at the 2010 Celebration versus the 2009 Celebration, despite more horses entering the show ring, was given.  Highlighting the progress was the overall decline in SHOW and USDA violations found from 601 in 2009 to 270 in 2010.  Scar rule violations were dramatically reduced from 305 in 2009 to 87 in 2010.

The industry HIOs are all facing an impending December 1, 2010 deadline to submit their rulebooks to the USDA for approval.  The USDA has mandated that those rulebooks contain the mandatory penalty structure that was originally proposed in the 2010 Points of Emphasis.

The SHOW HIO has not completed their analysis nor response to the mandatory penalties but do plan to have discussions with Dr. Chester Gipson and implement a penalty structure that effectuates the purpose of the Horse Protection Act.  The SHOW HIO will try to meet with the other HIOs that inspect both performance and pleasure Tennessee Walking Horses to discuss the impact of the mandate from the USDA with regards to penalties.

Also, the SHOW HIO will issue a public response to the HSUS Petition that was filed with the USDA back in August 2010.  SHOW intends to respond to the five key requests in the petition which include the permanent disqualification of scarred horses, a minimum penalty structure, permanent disqualification of repeat violators which include owners, trainers and custodians, incorporation of certain 2010 points of emphasis and decertification of non-compliant HIOs.  Both practical and legal arguments will be forthcoming in the response issued by the SHOW HIO.

Many decisions face the industry and each HIO.  A common theme throughout the discussions was the continued fragmentation of the industry and how it is detrimental to the overall success of the industry.  Many options were discussed and input was taken from representatives in the audience.  The year 2011 is quickly approaching and plans are already in progress for horse shows across the country.

In the call to action, communication was a key area of conversation.  It is imperative that the representatives from the associations in attendance take the information back to their constituents and inform them of the facts of the meeting and the needs that face the industry.

Visit the SHOW web site to download the complete presentation given (should be available 10/28/2010).  Attendees were also given a packet of information that included the Horse Protection Act, Horse Protection Regulations, 2010 Points of Emphasis, 2011 Mandatory Penalty Structure, letters from Dr. Gipson regarding the mandatory penalties and significant press releases from SHOW throughout its existence.  If anyone would like a copy of these documents they can contact the SHOW office at rreed@showhio.com and be sent the information.

 

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