WHR Copyright 2006

Approximately 75 people attended the second USDA Listening sessions in Springfield, Mo., Monday, March 13. Dr. Todd Behre, horse protection coordinator for the USDA, presented a program that consisted of a history lesson, an anatomy lesson, an economics class and a science class as part of his presentation regarding the implementation of the horse protection act. Behre discussed statistical information, in depth anatomy of the foot and pastern area, shoeing methods, shoes and packages and the scar rule. Other topics in his discussion were foreign substance, gas chromatography, thermography, the algometer and conflict resolution process.

"Dr. Behre had more facts and information than at previous USDA meetings that I have attended,” said Lin Davis, a Missouri walking horse owner. “Dr. Behre stated that it had taken three years to put this together. During his speech, he made the statement that one show that the USDA attended had 125 the night before they arrived but only 19 showed while they were there. He related that they will be back at that show this year.

"Behre discussed heavy shoes and displayed a set of extremely heavy shoes that were sent to him. Dr. Behre was well informed and his presentation was extremely well-put together and precise. He related that the presentation would be the same at each session wherever it was presented.”

Individuals were given an opportunity to make comments to Dr. Behre, Dr. John Poe and Mr. Mike Tuck regarding industry changes, the operating plan, inspection process and the Slaughter Bill. Individuals that spoke included members from Heart of America Walking Horse Association, Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH) and the National Walking Horse Association. Eighteen individuals made statements or asked questions, four being from the FOSH group.

“The speakers' statements from FOSH seemed to bother people more than what Dr. Behre was saying,” said Davis.

A Missouri horse trainer continued by stating he was "pretty worried about the statements the FOSH people made. There was a lady from St. Louis and another from Texas that spoke for FOSH and they were radical. They wanted no probation and if there was a violation they wanted that person out immediately.”

Another question asked at the session was what kind of soap was acceptable for washing a horse’s feet. “The answer was that soap is not a legal substance,” said Davis. Dr. Gipson was not available for the meeting since his plane was held up in Chicago. “Dr. Behre said that if he didn't know the answer to a question that he would find out the answer,” continued Davis.

Dr. Behre stated that in the meeting Tuesday morning with the HIOs that he would discuss the sniffer and its use, including how he plans to prosecute the sniffer.

Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas were represented at the meeting. Three addition listening sessions are scheduled Tennessee, California and Texas.