Dear Christy,
         I just obtained a copy of the Walking Horse Report and wanted to offer a correction to the article entitled, "TWHBEA Signs The Operating Plan." TWHBEA did not sign, TWHBEA's HIO signed at the direction of the HIO Committee. The following are the reasons our HIO signed the plan:
1. All those HIOs that sign the plan receive "sub delegate" initial enforcement authority.
2. All those HIOs that sign the plan receive the right to work with the APHIS to make amendments to the plan. Those that do not sign can still speak/lobby to the USDA to make changes but they do not have an inherent right to change anything.
3. The APHIS retains all authority to enforce the HPA - the Operating Plan does in no way preclude enforcement actions that the USDA feels necessary.
         During my recent AP interview, I was asked about the penalties and the removal of the probation period within the new plan. My response was that the USDA is "serious" about enforcement of the HPA. We will work with the APHIS to reach a consensus on penalties. I also mentioned that the Operating Plan penalties seemed far less than those of state laws like Tennessee where criminal actions can be taken against violators and I asked the AP why Tennessee was not enforcing the law. It seems that some legislator in Tennessee should be receiving a call. Maybe the HIO DQPs should be "deputized" by state authorities that have laws like Tennessee.
New Info:
         I have read the letters from the NHSC, Heart of America Walking Horse Association and the KY Horse Industry Organization. I do see a compromise solution to the concerns of these organizations and will be responding to them this week in an effort to set a meeting that will allow us to resolve this matter in favor of our industry. TWHBEA puts at the top of its agenda the formation of an independent event standards board that will oversee judging and inspections that are uniform throughout the nation and that can become a model for our international enthusiasts. We owe it to our industry to recognize that it is a new day and that change is inevitable. 
         I know that the transition to new training methods will cause some inherent challenges to trainers that are attempting to work with horses that do not have a squared gait. We at TWHBEA need to help these trainers and to work with the trainers’ association to make this transition easier. Using our collective experience, we can adopt training methods that are acceptable.
         I am sure that we will be successful. I am optimistic that over the next few weeks our industry organizations will develop an approach that will allow us to focus on our youth, our events and our respective businesses rather than our differences.
         I look forward to picking up the Walking Horse Report and reading only positive news. Together we can make it happen and I am going to dedicate my time over the next few weeks to meet with as many trainers, owners and HIOs as possible.
         TWHBEA is not the adversary. We are only interested in doing the right thing, and bringing integrity and fairness back into this industry is the right thing. 
My best,
Chuck Cadle
CEO and Executive Director 
(Editor’s note: The following is a description of the TWHBEA’s Event Standards Board and its mission.)

The effort to maintain the status quo ended when the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) asserted itself and assumed the industry leadership role by implementing a two phase initiative. Phase 1 introduced the TWHBEA sponsored Sanctioning Plan which created an “independent” HIO Committee to: (i) establish uniform standards; (ii) create the Tennessee Walking Horse Rule Book; (iii) enhance the training and standards for Designated Qualified Persons (DQPs); (iv) recruit, and make available to all events, independent accountable judges of integrity; and (v) recruit the participation and support of all Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs). Phase 2 will be the formalization of the Tennessee Walking Horse Event Standards Board which may consist of four independent committees with oversight authority for: (i) Rules; (ii) Designated Qualified Person (DQP) horse inspection quality review; (iii) Judges training, accountabilit, and related standards; and (iv) research and technology.
The motivation for this bold new initiative was:

1.         To eliminate any rewards for perpetuating the egregious practice of soring.
(a) The TWHBEA now refuses to recognize any show results from non-sanctioned events in its national high points system;
(b) The TWHBEA now refuses to recognize on its Internet Pedigree Software any show results from non-sanctioned events;
(c) The TWHBEA now records violations and suspensions that would aid owners in evaluating trainers, and in making horse purchase decisions; and
(d) Through enhanced inspections and quality judging at sanctioned events, sore horses will not receive prize money and ribbons, and those engaged in soring practices will not enjoy the added benefits of multiple sales of horses and increased stud fees. Additionally, the pressure to continue soring a recently sold sore horse in order to meet the new owner’s expectations will be terminated;

2.         To extend the United States Department of Agricultures (USDA) efforts in the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA), as well as the various states enforcement of their own animal cruelty statutes. In addition, by the adoption of one inspection Rule Book and strict uniform standards for inspections that have already been reviewed and accepted by the USDA, any newly sanctioned HIO will not be required to submit their version of rules and standards, and the USDA will not be required to expend their funds and manpower to review them;

3.         To establish a uniform set of standards through one Rule Book, one inspection process, and one judging criteria to be used in all Tennessee Walking Horse events, irrespective of where or when they may be held or by whom they might be sponsored;

4.         To create enhanced and more rigorous training of DQPs and Judges resulting in heightened expectations and greater accountability, and to create an independent system of oversight by the employment of one Director of Animal Welfare and one Director of Judges for the benefit of all sanctioned HIOs;

5.         To implement material and meaningful independence and transparency in an HIO Committee by having the TWHBEA act as the Sanctioning Plan sponsor with a veto vote. The HIO Committee is not in appearance or in actuality comprised of the very trainers and owners that are being evaluated at events. A further demonstrable extension of this independence is in the constitution of the TWHBEA’s general membership, a majority of whose primary interest is in the pleasure and trail flat shod Tennessee Walking Horse;

6.         To provide needed funding for research and technology, and a methodology and repository for grants, federal, state and private; and

7.         To comply with the intent of Sarbanes Oxley (2002) and bring integrity to the industry. The Sarbanes Oxley Act established a new quasi-public agency, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board which was charged with overseeing, regulating, inspecting and disciplining accounting firms in their roles as auditors of public companies. The Tennessee Walking Horse Event Standards Board would also act as a quasi-public agency and through the TWHBEA Sanctioning Plan it would oversee, regulate, inspect and discipline HIOs, DQPs, and judges under uniform standards and rules to be used by all events.

8.         To provide the same standards to the international community.