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A Quick Review of USDA Proposed Rule

By Jeffrey Howard

After a quick review, a couple of items that help clear up confusion regarding the rule.  The ban on the action devices will be effective 30 days after publication of the rule while the ban on pads is not effective until January 1, 2018.  HIOs will continue to operate in 2017 and the new Horse Protection Inspector (HPI) program will begin January 1, 2018.  However, if the rule is challenged and an injunction received, none of the provisions would go into effect.  Also, an executive order by President-Elect Trump could also delay implementation of rules that are not effective as of inauguration day, which this one would not.

Also, the proposed ban on the weight of shoes was not implemented or changed from existing regulations and the number of HPIs required was changed to one for shows with under 150 horses and two for shows with more than 150 entries.  Also, the entry sheet will be sufficient for determining the identity of horses so no separate entry card is required.

An interesting note is that USDA challenged the validity of the Auburn study and said in fact their inspections have proven that action devices weighing six ounces alone can cause soring whether used in conjunction with prohibited substances or not.

The rule is limited to the Tennessee Walking Horse and Racking Horse and does exclude the other breeds from the provisions of the rule.  Many of the proposed burdens on show management were lifted including having a farrier on site if the show does not allow the use of therapeutic pads.

The USDA stands by the validity of their inspection protocol and does not propose changes to that protocol.  The USDA considered many factors, which they noted, but did not acknowledge the 22% error rate of inspections at this year's Celebration conducted by two VMOs nor the approximately 50% difference in findings from one VMO to a second VMO during the same inspection.

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