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Letter To The Editor From Tom Kakassy



Letter To The Editor

Dear Drs. Gipson and Cezar:

I would like to convey my observations of Ernest Johnson at the Asheville horse show. I am an exhibitor, amateur trainer, owner, breeder, lawyer in HPA cases, TWHBEA director, and spectator. I have been doing this since before the HPA was enacted. At this gentle point in my life, my sensibilities may be closer to those of the  “poodle-toting condo dweller” described by Wink Groover than the “dog or chicken fighter” described by Mr. Johnson.
The interesting thing I learned from Mr. Johnson this weekend, from two days of observation, is how to check a sound horse so as to elicit a reaction, as follows: 

1.  Stand away from the horse when picking up the leg. This makes everything that follows difficult for the horse.

2.  When you pick up the leg, hold it by the knee or slightly lower, making the heavy part of the hoof and shoe dangle uncomfortably.

3.  As you palpate the foot with one hand, pull back on the leg with the other.

4.  Jab with your thumbs, repeatedly, in one area.

5.  Run your thumbs along the skin until you force a fold in the skin, at which point the horse will flinch.

6.  Satisfy yourself that one nonrepetitive reaction violates the HPA.

Disregard the protocol adopted by APHIS, especially in the stake class.  This will allow you, after a horse has been checked, approved by all DQPs and yourself, braced, warmed up, and called to the ring, to call that horse back and tell him he cannot show. This will stop the show, involve all the spectators, and make show management, owners, and trainers consider to what extent they want to disagree with one person who, at this one moment in time, has all of the resources of the federal government behind him.

Threaten the DQPs with letters of warning if they do not do the same.


I believe that you will, in the next few days, be reviewing some videos of Asheville, and think that you will agree with some or all of the above.

I have seen USDA involvement that runs the gamut from aardvark to zebra in competency and cooperation.  Coming to mind at this moment is last year’s Asheville show, which featured close cooperation between Dr. Hamill and KY-HIO.
This seems like one of those crossroads wherein all of the stakeholders in the showing of these great horses need, again, to decide what the objective is. I know that Sam Hamilton of PRIDE has worked around the clock to make this show work.
I leave it to you and to him to analyze Johnson’s motives; thank you for your attention to this problem; and point out that we can’t show sound horses, and you can’t regulate showing, if we simply are not allowed to show.
 
Sincerely,

Thomas B. Kakassy, PA

 

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