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SHOW Seeks Changes to HIO Working Group



Editor's Note:  The following letter was sent from SHOW HIO President Dr. Stephen L. Mullins to Horse Protection Coordinator Dr. Rachel Cezar.  The letter seeks changes to the HIO Working Group based upon the differences in disciplines inspected by the HIOs, HIOs that don't actively check horses and those represented by special interest groups.  For a PDF of the letter click here.

Rachel Cezar, DVM
Horse Protection Coordinator
USDA-APHIS-AC
4700 River Rd, STE 6D03
Riverdale, MN  20737

Dr. Cezar,

As we discussed with you and Dr. Gipson on March 9th, 2011, in our meeting in Washington, D.C., SHOW believes that it would be appropriate to disband or at a minimum reconstruct the HIO working group.  Currently there are 12 identified HIO's.  Of those there are several that do not inspect performance/padded show horses.   Of the remainder SHOW, PRIDE, HOA and KWHA are the only HIO's that have not accepted the "mandatory" penalties and that affiliate, predominantly, the TWH performance/padded show horse.  Also of the remaining HIO's, several are utilized by "special interest advocates" who are opposed to the performance/padded show horse and despite clear evidence to the contrary, continue to force their own agenda of improper Rulemaking with the clear intent of eliminating the performance padded show horse.  As you are well aware Lori Northrup, representing FOSH, Robin Lohnes representing AHPA (as well as the current secretary or coordinator of the HIO working group), and Keith Dane from HSUS and who provided an affidavit, have all been involved with and/or participated in the HIO working group, and of course signed or provided  input to the HSUS Petition for Rulemaking.

In the last several years the overwhelming discussions by the USDA and the HIO Working Group have been regarding issues that affect the TWH performance/padded show horse.  This has been nowhere more apparent than in the last two Rulemakings that focus the "mandatory" penalties and possible decertification on the above performance/padded HIO's.  As was pointed out and referenced in the latest USDA Rulemaking which states:

"However, if these regulatory changes and the resulting changes in the Horse Protection program do not result in the elimination of soring, we will seriously consider taking substantially more restrictive action, including, but not limited to, prohibiting the use of all action devices and pads, to accomplish the goal set forth by Congress in the Act."

It is therefore extremely clear that the APHIS is completely focused on the TWH performance/padded show horse.  Based upon all the above, we would request, that in order to facilitate any open and transparent discussions regarding ongoing industry self-regulation, with an effective DQP program, the HIO Working Group should be modified to eliminate any HIO that does not inspect and affiliate more than 25 horse shows.  In addition we would propose that a combined Working Group could be effective regarding general matters that affect ALL HIO's, but that a smaller HIO Working Group be formed that inspects and affiliates predominantly the TWH performance/padded show horse - those being SHOW, PRIDE, HOA and KWHA only. 

We are happy to discuss the above at your convenience, but as we discussed and you indicated your understanding, SHOW thinks it is highly inappropriate to hand an HIO Working Group that is comprised of HIO's whose attendees are merely a facade and place holder for "special interest advocates" against the performance/padded show horse, and any advocate or signatory/participant to the HSUS Petition given the false and inflammatory information that was provided and utilized to skew the facts and data in that Petition.


Thanks
Dr. Stephen L. Mullins
President

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