By Jeffrey Howard

Copyright WHR 2011

The National Walking Horse Association (NWHA) is reportedly conducting an internal investigation led by President Jason Crawhorn into alleged improper contact with Designated Qualified Persons (DQP) during The National, NWHA’s championship show.  The National was held at Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tenn. September 26 - October 1, 2011.

During the show, DQP David Scott, who has been a DQP for 10 years, was relieved of his duties after a confrontation with exhibitor and NWHA board member Jim Potter, in which Potter questioned his ability to measure shoes correctly.  The Walking Horse Report recently was furnished an interview of Scott conducted by Linda Ivins, an NWHA board member outlining the inappropriate contact and several alleged HPA violations by NWHA show management and Executive Committee members.  Scott confirmed these allegations to the Walking Horse Report in a phone interview last week.

“Lori Lowe would call Martha Day (DQP Coordinator of NWHA) and tell her to tell us that they wanted certain exhibitors checked extra.  Lori would tell Martha, we want them out of here,” said Scott.  Connie Holbrook told Scott, “He (Jeff Givens) is a bad man and we know he pressure shoes his horses and we want him out of here,” confirmed Scott.  When asked why he thought the instructions were being given he answered, “People were beating them and they didn’t like it and wanted them gone.”

As part of the investigation by NWHA, Scott confirmed that Crawhorn had called him but only asked him a couple questions.  He (Crawhorn) asked Scott if anyone had told him why he (Scott) was excused and then Crawhorn told Scott, “I’m sorry for what has happened and you did nothing wrong,” according to Scott.  The Report has attempted multiple times to contact Crawhorn and received an email recently stating “I can’t comment on an ongoing investigation.”

Scott also told the Report that he knew the Executive Committee wanted Day to fire him but that she refused to fire him.  “Martha was also told to send me a letter of warning by the Executive Committee however to this point I have not received anything,” said Scott.  Scott said he feels he still has a license because he has not been fired or sent anything.

Below are the contents of Scott’s interview with Ivins.  Ivins only interviewed Scott and other DQPs because Lowe would not allow the statements collected by Day to be distributed to the board.

1. To the best of your knowledge, were there people in the DQP area that should not have been?
A - Yes

2. Did they attempt to instruct you or influence you?
A - Yes

3. Who were these people and how many times did they come to your area?
A - Gordon Lawler, I think that was his name, he came one time and Connie Holbrook, she came several
times.  Those were the only two that came in when I was there.

4. Did they give you specific names to check more closely than others?
A - Yes they did.

4A. What names did they give you to check.
A - The names that were given to check, Connie gave me one name, which was Jeff Givens, through Martha Day and other the board members that were at the show, and I can’t tell you which ones it was, but Martha Day said they were calling and telling us to check Charlie Moore and his wife, I think. And Jared Carriers horse. And when they did that, they went out and bought us brand new rasps and magnets and wanted us to check for tungsten shoes.

4B. Did they say why they wanted these horses checked closely?
A - We were getting instructions through Martha Day every couple of hours and didn’t want any illegal shoes or any sore horses getting by. We DQPs talked and decided we would treat everyone the same and check them all the same.

4C. Do you feel these instructions were inappropriate?
A - I do. What I think about DQPs, you know, even (though) we are paid by NWHA, once we are hired to do a show, they should not tell us how to do our job.

4D. Who do you think is responsible for overseeing your job?
A - Martha Day.

5. How were you measuring shoes prior to the directive to measure in front of the caulk?
A - We had a gauge issued by the NWHA and the rulebook states the size of the shoe and gives 1/16” extra. And we use it to go around the shoe to make sure it fits. We had a few tickets at the beginning, and they had to go change the shoe and could show the rest of the show. Those people had no problem. They just did it. Wednesday afternoon, we checked a horse.  Jim Potter was the trainer, and it had an illegal planation shoe and I told Jim Potter that he would have to miss the class, but after he changed the shoe he could continue with the rest of the show.  And he told me that I was checking the shoe wrong and he wouldn’t change the shoes. A couple seconds after that, he called Martha on the phone and I guess he explained it to her. He told me that Martha said the horse was fine and he could show it like it was. I told him that I was the DQP and I checked the horse, and he could not show the horse in that class. When I told him that, a couple seconds later I got a call from Martha Day and I told her that he said she told him he could show the horse in that class, and she said I told him no such thing. Then Gordon Lawler and Connie Holbrook came into the DQP area, and at that point Gordon started arguing with me and saying that I didn’t know how to check shoes, and he was on the board and helped develop the tool, and I said I had been a DQP for 10 years and I knew how to check a horse. He continued arguing that I didn’t know what I was doing, and he knew Jim Potter and he should be allowed to show. I asked Connie to get him out of the DQP area and quit arguing with me, which she would not do, and I had to finally just walk away.

5A. Did you report this to the USDA?
A - I did.

5B. Did you report it to Martha Day?
A - I sent her a copy of it yes.

5C. - Have you heard from the USDA?
A - I have not heard from them, but Martha has, and all I know is that she said they are going to investigate. That is all I know. That was Wednesday night, and there weren’t but a few classes left. The next day, Thursday, I didn’t have to work until later in the day. In the morning I got a call from Martha and she said that the board had met for about 2 hours last night and decided that we should only measure shoes in front of the caulk. I said if that was the case, we should just throw the gauge away and not even use it. I was at the motel room and I made a template that would look the kind of shoe that could be used. It could be thick at the front, it could be toe weighted. I was at my wife’s vendor table, and I saw Lynn MacGregor and I went down and told her  that this was the kind of shoe that could be used if they were only going to check in front of the caulk. I saw some people up behind me selling T shirts and a woman looked over my shoulder and saw what I was doing. About 5 minutes later, I got a phone call from Martha saying that Lori Lowe had told her she wanted me to leave and not come back. Why I showed Lynn MacGregor, they are trainers, and if we are not going to check the shoes all around then this is the kind of shoe that could be used and I felt they should know this kind of stuff. They said I shouldn’t talk to exhibitors and I said since I was off duty, I thought I could talk to people. I didn’t think that I just couldn’t talk to anybody.

6. How have you measured shoes this calendar year?
A - Same way as we measured at the Nationals; checked all the way around.  The rulebook says the shoe can measure 3/8 x 3/4 and it doesn’t say it just should measure in front of the caulk. And the same goes for all division shoes.

7. Do you feel NWHA failed to buffer you from people who were trying to influence you, and if so,
how should this be prevented in the future?
A - They did and like I said before, nobody should be allowed to tell the DQPs how to do their job. The only one that should do that is Martha Day. The board should have nothing to say about how we do our job. What the DQPs do is make sure the rules are kept. No shoe violations or sore horses or that sort of thing.

8. Do you have any other comments you would like to add?
A - Well, all I can say is I feel they treated me wrong. I was doing what I was hired to do and they treated me wrong. I think the NWHA is a great organization. I have been a member of it, but they can’t let people do that sort of thing. We wrote several tickets and the people had no problem with it. The only problem came after Jim Potter got a ticket and he said he wouldn’t change his (shoes), and then the board decided to change the ruling on how we were supposed to measure the shoes, and that is when all the problems came. When they made that decision, they went back to all those people that we had written tickets to, and they went back to them and told them that they could show in the championship classes anyhow.