On September 27, 2013 Congressmen Ed Whitfield (Ky) and Steve Cohen (Tn) wrote a letter to the executive committee of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' & Exhibitors' Association (TWHBEA) clarifying their previously introduced legislation.  The clarification centered around the ban of weighted shoes in their legislation.  You can view that letter here.

The Performance Show Horse Association (PSHA) sent the following letter to the executive committee of TWHBEA in response to the letter from Congressmen Whitfield and Cohen.

October 7, 2013

Mr. Loyd H. Black, Jr.
P.O. Box 286
250 N. Ellington Pkwy.
Lewisburg, TN 37091

Dear Mr. Black:

Our organization has had the opportunity to review the letter TWHBEA recently received from Congressman Ed Whitfield and Congressman Steve Cohen regarding their legislation (H.R. 1518) and their desire to “clarify” the intent and the impacts of that legislation to the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry.

First and foremost, every member of this industry needs to understand one simple fact – this legislation was authored by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and its intent is very straightforward in wanting to eliminate the performance show horse industry and eliminate the thousands of jobs dependent upon this industry, eliminate the millions of dollars that this industry provides to charities across the country and eliminate the economic value that thousands of members of this industry have invested in their horses and farms. 

This legislation was originally filed in September of last year and was re-introduced this year soon after the seating of the new Congress.  It is surprising that this legislation authored by the HSUS is just now being “clarified”.  Also, as an important member of the walking horse industry, please understand that the letter from Congressman Ed Whitfield and Congressman Steve Cohen has no relevance to the legislative process or on any actions that would occur if this legislation happens to pass the House, pass the Senate and is signed in to law by the President.

Of particular importance is the “clarification” by Mr. Whitfield and Mr. Cohen that “(T)he determination of the types and weight of shoes that are allowed will be determined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) only after a formal rule making process.”  This is one of the most dangerous and significant portions of H.R. 1518.  Under rule making, the Department of Agriculture is under NO obligation to take in to account any documentation, evidence, suggestions or positions submitted by the industry or any member of the industry, or by these Members of Congress.  The current Administration routinely publishes proposed rules, has a comment period and issues a final rule that is based completely upon the desires of a small minority interest that is influential with a Department or the Administration.  In fact, Mr. Whitfield has spent several years fighting the current Administration’s rulemaking actions related to the energy sector of the economy and it is slightly disingenuous for him to ask the walking horse industry to have “faith” in the Department of Agriculture’s rulemaking.

Secondly, Mr. Whitfield and Mr. Cohen failed to “clarify” the fact that this bill, if it becomes law, will result in a significant loss of value of thousands of horses with no compensation of any kind to the owners of those horses.  While these Congressmen and their HSUS partners have no problem with that result, it should and must be of the utmost concern to every person associated with this industry.  Through this legislative elimination of an entire breed, the resulting economic loss will be catastrophic to every community associated with our industry.

Third, the letter you received was very inaccurate in its “clarifications” on a number of topics.  For example, the letter stated that “it has been documented that heavy shoes and hoof bands are regularly used an integral part of a practice generally known as ‘pressure shoeing’ to cause horses to be sore, which creates an artificial high-stepping gait that is often rewarded in the show ring.”  This is false.  What “documentation” do they have which shows that heavy shoes and bands are “regularly” used for the practice of “pressure shoeing”?  Industry data, including information from the Department of Agriculture, shows only ONE (1) instance of “pressure shoeing” in the last four years and that person was prosecuted for this action by one of the very Horse Industry Organizations that these Congressmen wish to eliminate. 

HSUS routinely makes these types of allegations and, as they are the authors of this bill, this type of misinformation contained in the letter you received is not surprising.  For example, Mr. Keith Dane, an official of HSUS, identified 2 horses in 2009 he knew were “pressure shod”.  To ensure compliance with the Horse Protection Act, officials from the Celebration and the Department of Agriculture went to the barns where these horses were at, inspected them and determined that the horses were not pressure shod.  But the misrepresentations and misinformation produced by HSUS and used by these Members of Congress continues.

As a point of “clarification” for this Industry we have reviewed the different type and class of every horse that has been shown in 2013 to date , in an HIO affiliated event, and determined that 91% would be deemed “weighted” and eliminated by this legislation (see “Weighted v. Non-Weighted” document accompanying this letter). Attached you will find the list of those types of show horses. Of course that does not include all the stallions, mares, yearlings and other horses that are part of the “weighted” Industry.

Finally, the letter states that these Members of Congress “will work hard to ensure that the intent of this legislation is carried out in a way that is not harmful to the people who value Walking horses and do not sore them.”  Unfortunately, if this statement is accurate, the walking horse industry we know and depend on and the one that our communities and the charities we support depend on will disappear.  The value of our horses and farms will disappear.  That is the intent of the Humane Society of the United States, these Members of Congress and this legislation and everyone involved with this issue needs to understand and appreciate that fact.

Every member of the Performance Show Horse Association and this industry is working diligently to bring about significant and real reforms to the show horse component of this industry.  We are working to create protocols that will result in objective, science-based testing that will identify those individuals who do not wish to abide by the rules.  We are working with a number of Members of Congress on a legislative solution that will put these reforms in to the Horse Protection Act and protect horses from mistreatment and, at the same time, ensure that our industry and the thousands of families dependent on our industry are protected as well.

Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this letter and our desire to clarify Mr. Whitfield and Mr. Cohen’s “clarifications”.  We look forward to working with you over the coming months and please do not hesitate to contact us at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely yours,


Dr. Doyle Meadows
Performance Show Horse Association