by Linda Scrivner


SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The 2008 USDA and HIO training was held at the Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008. This is the Horse Protection training for the VMOs and DQPs. The meeting began with Mike Tuck of the USDA welcoming the different HIOs that were in attendance and their DQP coordinators.

Those HIOs in attendance were the NHSC, SSHBEA, HAWHA, Western International, Missouri Foxtrotting HIO, FOSH, Horse Protection Council, Kentucky HIO, TWHBEA HIO, Celebration, Oklahoma HIO and Indiana HIO.

Mack Motes gave a dynamic speech giving the overview and vision. He began by saying, “The state of our industry is improving. When we began the year, there was war in the walking horse industry. It was surprising how well things went. I watched with amazement at the Celebration how much the horses were doing. . . The DQPs kept it together. We had a great Celebration with the cleanest bunch of horses that were ever shown.

“The burden of keeping the horses clean is on the DQPs. If we let our duties slide during the year, we won’t have clean horses showing at the Celebration. The DQPs did their job last year in spite of everyone pulling against them. If the industry is to be successful, you must be successful to keep the horses in compliance. We’re closer to understanding scar rules than ever before,” continued Motes.

“We have no choice but to do our jobs. The DQPs and the government won’t put us out of business, the American people pushing the government will. It’s up to us to see that these horses are kept up to the Federal regulations. Even if it’s your friend, being a friend is to turn him down if he’s not compliant. The burden of keeping the horse where he is today lies in this room. There are horses that don’t have a hair off. We’re not 100 percent compliant but we were close. We can see the end of the tunnel.”

“The industry trainers and owners pulled together. Our three leaders of our major organizations went to Washington together. We couldn’t do that last year. If you as a DQP do your job, we will have a great Celebration and show season and your businesses will be successful,” Motes concluded.

Dr. Rachel Cezar, HPA Coordinator, was next on the agenda and she stated that the USDA was here to help have a great year.

Donna Benefield was next on the agenda discussing DQP responsibilities and standards of conduct. She encouraged DQPs to exam everyone the same. She felt that the DQPs need to improve still and to conduct themselves as if everyone was watching them. She introduced the new forms for the DQPs and VMOs, which is the same, for violations. All HIOs are to use this form which provides triplicate copies.

Dr. Lynn Bourgeois spoke on VMO responsibilities. He said that their main function was to observe and evaluate the DQP. He emphasized the examination of horses and stated that they should follow the uniform guidelines. He reminded them that they had the authority to inspect any horse on the ground and to inspect pre show horses after the DQP and inspect post-show horses at their discretion. VMOs must inform custodians if a federal case is to be written. Bourgeois went over their reporting requirements also.

Donna Benefield then talked about the operating plan and stated that all HIOs have signed with the exception of NWHA and Kentucky HIO.

The group then moved to the arena and AAEP Veterinarian Dr. Mike Harry demonstrated the correct use of hoof testers on horses following a discussion of pressure shoeing by David Finger. Harry explained how to hold the testers in one hand close and not at the end of the testers. He said to simply close that hand and that should be sufficient pressure to hoof test a horse. He said that you should leave a spot where a horse flinched, then go back to the same time and get a response at least three times. He emphasized that if there is not a response in both feet that it is not pressure shoeing but other problems. He said that this was not a complete tool for pressure shod. They need other indicators such as movement of the horse. The testers just give a suspicion. One horse tested that gave on one foot would have been allowed to show because she showed no other signs and did not appear lame. They indicated that you don’t need to hoof test every horse, just those that movement might indicate a problem or select a few randomly. Following the demonstration DQPs did hoof testing on the four horses supplied by Link Webb.

Dr. Randy Ridenour discussed the scar rule inspection procedure. He showed slides of scar rule violations and emphasized that you cannot tell by looking, but rather you must feel in order to determine if the horse is scarred or if the skin will flatten out. A power point scar rule presentation had 79 photos of horses’ pasterns. Fifty of these had dates and initials of shows and sales across the nation and were taken in 2007. One of these was a photo of a 16-year-old horse that showed no signs of soring and stated that it was possible to have padded horses showing that were in compliance after many years of showing. These photos emphasized that there was still a need to continue to see that horses were compliant. The power point presentation ended with a slide that said, “Such horses should therefore bear no scars whatsoever if the law were being complied with.” Dr. Ridenour said that the exception would be a horse that had unilateral thickening of the skin that would flatten out. Those horses would not be like the way they were when they were born. He concluded with the good news that the horses’ pasterns are better than they used to be and that we are making progress. “They are much better. Keep up the good work!” Ridenour said.

The group again headed for the arena where David Finger gave a demonstration on the inspection guidelines and procedures with the horses. Twelve horses were present and DQPs were given sheets to check each foot and write down their findings for each foot and to determine if the horses were in or out. Following the inspection of all 12 horses, the groups re-gathered and each horse was brought up and they were told whether the VMOs and DQP coordinators had called the horses in or out and why. Then if a person had a question about his findings, he could re-look at the horse to see what he had missed. Five of the horses had one foot out of compliance but one foot in and therefore were in compliance and would be allowed to show. These horses ranged in age from two-year-olds to 12 and 15-year-olds. The two older horses were in compliance and had been shown extensively, although one had a scar on one foot. Two horses were out of compliance on both feet. Following the hands-on examination of horses and the discussion, the group returned for the conclusion of the clinic in the classroom.

Dr. Rachel Cezar discussed the USDA sponsored technology in the field. Dr. Cezar remarked that the sniffer had been tested for three years and they are hoping to implement it this year. There were 169 horses tested with 96 of them being positive for foreign substances. These topical substances were found: camphor, which is an irritant; isopropyl palmitate and myristate, which is cosmetic lotion; elemental sulfur, which is karolytic known to possibly prevent scar tissue; benzocaine, which is anesthetic; o-aminoazutulene, which is dye (i.e. hoof black polish); and octyl methoxycinnamate, which is sunscreen known to possibly block thermography.

Dr. Cezar said that they were recommending to the agency that starting this year they would issue a letter of warning. This would be form 7060, an official warning of notice of violation. Dr. Cezar said that they are now analyzing the use of thermography and are hoping to implement it this year. She stated that it is still in the testing mode and there would be no penalties from it this year.

Mike Tuck wrapped up the clinic by thanking those that brought horses and all who participated.