Copyright 2005 - USDA VMOs were accompanied by Dr. Vaughan Langman, APHIS Research Fellow, at the Smoky Mountain Classic in Harriman, Tenn., on Friday night, and at the Heart of Dixie Horse Show in Columbiana, Ala., on Saturday night.

Speculation ran rampant at all the shows and both shows suffered greatly in number of entries. However, this is the same device, the MikroScan 7515, that was used intermittently in the 2004 show season by the USDA. It is also the same device that was formally introduced to interested industry members through five public meetings that were held in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Lexington, Ky., Springfield, Mo., Temecula, Calif., and Tacoma, Wash.

According to Dr. Todd Behre, USDA APHIS Horse Protection Coordinator, the device is not being used as an enforcement tool at this time.

“All nine HIOs were notified early last spring (2004) that USDA would be ascertaining the utility of this device as an enforcement tool through the acquisition and analysis of data on hundreds of horses. While we now have data on a large number of horses that were not determined to be sore via other means (standard inspection techniques: evaluation of locomotion, general appearance, or physical examination), we still need to compile data on many horses that have been determined to be sore via these other traditional means. We cannot think of any other way to determine if a ‘sore’ limb, as defined in the regulations, appears differently upon thermographic examination than a limb that is not ‘sore’.

Walking Horse Report readers are encouraged to send us your questions for Dr. Behre regarding this and other USDA issues to be answered in future guest editorials by Dr. Behre.