Skip to content

Lantis on Maryland USDA Listening Session



USDA LISTENING SESSION
APRIL 10, 2012 – BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

Christy Lantis, TWHBEA – Vice President, Enforcement Committee, TWHBEA

My name is Christy Lantis and I represent the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders & Exhibitors Association.  I additionally serve as one of TWHBEA’s representatives to the Unity Committee, am a former director and member of the Tennessee Walking Horse Association of California, and am currently the Secretary/Treasurer for the West Coast Walking Horse Trainers Association.  I have traveled from California to appear and testify before the USDA today. 

My involvement with the Tennessee Walking Horse is lifelong. My Father was a professional dog trainer, specializing in Brittany and Pointer field trial dogs, which he handled off horseback.  Tennessee Walker’s are the predominant equine breed utilized by field trial enthusiasts because of their smooth surefooted gait and their endurance.  I began showing Tennessee Walking Horses around 1978, and have seen numerous positive changes in the show ring presentation of this wonderful breed.

Today, I would like to specifically address a few of the USDA’s questions:

1. Congress passed the Horse Protection Act in 1970 to eliminate the cruel and inhumane practice of soring.  How close are we to achieving the goal?  In my 34 years in the industry, I have witnessed tremendous improvement in the treatment of the Tennessee Walking Horse and a steep decline in the practice of ‘soring’. Many of the people that make allegations against the performance horse have not seen one up close and in person in thirty to forty years.  We would invite you to visit a horse show, or a barn, and see for yourself the vast improvements made.  Our equine breed in the most inspected breed in the United States for show ring purposes.  There are five HIO’s – SHOW, Pride, Kentucky, Heart of America, and WHOA – that inspect both performance and pleasure ‘competitive’ horses.  The average compliance rate of these five HIO’s was 98.56%.  There will never be 100% compliance, most especially in subjective inspection processes.  The competitive horse is inspected by manual palpation in varying degrees of unfamiliar environment.  When humans are involved, human error is inevitable, and I have personally experienced an inexperienced VMO requesting improper procedure in the inspection process.  Again, this makes the subjectivity of the inspection process a concern and problem.    The question really should be at what level of compliance will this industry have been able to satisfy the desires of the USDA?

5. What can the USDA do now and in the future to ensure compliance?  The USDA has helped the industry make great strides, and our horses are more compliant that ever before.  I believe that the next best step to ensure and help the industry facilitate compliance is education and communication.  I realize that the USDA’s role is to identify and correct problems and to ensure animal welfare.  Our industry is committed to the same.  The industry is putting on an educational conference, TTEC, which will be informative for owners, exhibitors, and trainers.  The Trainers Association will be considering this as a continuing education opportunity for their members.  It is important that we all continue to educate ourselves about animal welfare and horsemanship.  I also believe that some amount of positive feedback and communication from the USDA to the industry would help garner goodwill.  It is important to recognize the positives in this industry!

4.   How can the industry reconcile its inherent competition aspect with ensuring compliance?  All true competitors want a level playing field, and all true competition has ‘cheaters’.  Whether we are discussing Tennessee Walking Horses, or the NBA, NFL, etc., there will always be those that attempt to garner some ‘advantage’ through unscrupulous means.  The role of the HIO is to level that playing field and ensure the safety and welfare of our horses.  Now more than ever, our owners have demanded that level playing field and an objective, not subjective, inspection process.  We, as owners, are holding our trainers, and ourselves accountable.  We are also holding our inspectors accountable, and there should be no conflicts of interest for the DQP’s or the VMO’s that are responsible for inspecting our horses.

This breed has many diverse opportunities to enjoy its natural gait.  We should all respect each other’s right to enjoy this breed. 

I would like to thank the USDA for hosting these listening sessions for the stakeholders of this industry.  We appreciate the opportunity to be heard and to have our say.

More Stories

  • Obituary – Sam Hartsell

    Sam “Shot” Hartsell, age 74, of Newport, passed away Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Knoxville. He was preceded in death by his wife, Nan Hartsell and parents, Floyd and Viola McMahan Hartsell... Read More
  • WHOA announces International judging panel

    The Walking Horse Owners' is pleased to announce the three judges selected by current WHOA members. Charlie Brown, Shelli MeHaffey and Lonnie Messick will officiate the 40th Annual International Pleasure & Colt Championship.

    Read More
  • Savannah Lions Club adds classes

    The 52nd Annual Savannah Lions Club Show, scheduled for June 23 at 6:30 pm, has added two classes to their original schedule... Read More
  • Scrivner selected to judge Mid-South

    The Mid-South Walking Horse Association Show, scheduled for July 14, has selected Dickie Scrivner of Murfreesboro, Tennessee to mark the cards for this year's event. The show will be held at Pugh Bourne Park in Jackson, Tennessee.  Read More
  • Equine Obituary - Gen’s Armed & Dangerous

    The Report has recently learned of the passing of Gen’s Armed and Dangerous. The beautiful stallion was the 1994 Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion. Read More
  • Ohio Valley adds class

    Ohio Valley Walking Horse Association show, scheduled for June 23 in Stanford, Kentucky, has added a 4 and Under Trail Pleasure to their show.  Read More
  • Walking For Hope Show updates

    The Walking For Hope show, scheduled for June 16, has selected Chris Zahnd to judge this year’s event. Originally scheduled to start at 4:00, the show will start at 5:00 pm. Read More
  • WHOA Versatility revises class schedule

    The Walking Horse Owners Association has added 5 classes to its June 16 show scheduled at Tennessee Tech, Hyder-Burk Facility in Cookeville, TN. The show starts at 10 am and is a casual dress show (boots, long pants, shirts with a collar) and "Youth 11 and Under" are required to wear a safety helmet. Read More
  • Putnam Co. Fair selects judge

    The Putnam County Fair and Upper Cumberland Walking Horse Association are pleased to announce that Newton Parks of Murfreesboro, Tennessee will judge this year’s event... Read More
  • Wartrace selects judge

    The 112th Anniversary Wartrace Horse Show has selected John Fikes of Hamilton, Alabama to judge this year's event and has released their class schedule... Read More