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Influenced or Incompetent...or both



The United States Department of Agriculture finished the 77th Annual Celebration the same way they started by disqualifying horses that had passed their Veterinary Medical Officers all year long.  On Friday and Saturday evening the USDA VMOs disqualified an additional 25 horses that had passed inspection by SHOW HIO Designated Qualified Persons.  Those 25 horses had passed inspection 128 times in 2015 with the USDA present for 86 of those inspections.

For the Celebration, the USDA disqualified 163 horses that previously passed inspection by SHOW HIO DQPs.  For the weekend of championship classes, the USDA disqualified 38 horses with all but a couple of those horses already being passed by USDA VMOs in their qualifying classes.  The 163 horses disqualified by the USDA had passed inspection 750 times in 2015 prior to The Celebration with the USDA present for 470 of those inspections or 63% of the time.

It is not uncommon for the USDA to use the subjective scar rule to disqualify horses that are not in violation for any other reason.  During the course of the season, VMOs took information on 52 potential scar rule violations in 4,397 entries.  At this year’s Celebration, the USDA took information on 127 potential scar rule violations in 1,217 entries.  Prior to the Celebration, horses had potential scar rule violations 1.2% of the time, yet those same horses under the care of the same professionals had potential scar rule violations 10.4% of the time at The Celebration.

The USDA denies targeting and profiling allegations by stating that equipment used at The Celebration is the reason for the increase in violations.  This statement is simply not true and has been proven to be false by the USDA’s own admission.  The USDA does not use new equipment at The Celebration to determine potential scar rule violations.

Dr. Chester Gipson and Dr. Tracy Turner, a paid consultant to the USDA and promoter of thermography, have stated that the use of thermography at The Celebration is the reason for the increase in potential violations.  First, the USDA has not provided any peer-reviewed study to back their claims of thermography’s use in determining a scar and during the 2015 show season when the USDA used thermography prior to The Celebration, their VMOs found potential scar rule violations only 3% of the time.

Information leading to the basis for the USDA’s actions each year at The Celebration may come if Rep. Scott DesJarlais is successful in getting USDA-APHIS personnel before a Congressional oversight hearing.  The answer thus far to Rep. DesJarlais from Dr. Gipson is that the industry needs to “deal with it” because the “world is full of injustices.”

Whether the VMOs are incompetent or influenced, an explanation is needed for the 767% increase in disqualifications for potential violations of the scar rule at The Celebration.
 

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