September 18, 2012            

SHELBYVILLE, TN - TWSHO issued the following statement from spokesperson Jennifer Baker in response to the amendments proposed last week by Members of Congress from Kentucky:

"The primary goal of TWSHO is to implement reforms that will rid the industry of soring trainers for good.  Not only do we support components of what the members of congress from Kentucky proposed, the reformers in the industry are already doing it, with the strictest inspections and harshest penalties in the business.  And we are actually enforcing the penalties.  The USDA has punished 52 trainers in the last 42 years.  In the last three years alone, SHOW HIO suspended 152 trainers for an entire year.  We do have a problem however with legislation that will eliminate inspectors, be they from the industry or the USDA.  The elimination of HIO inspectors and a system that allows for horse shows to voluntarily request inspectors would do more harm than good by allowing for abusive trainers to go undetected and unpunished. Horses are safest when the industry and the USDA work in partnership to ensure that horses are safe and that only sound and HPA compliant horses are participating in horse shows."


The following are detailed responses to proposed changes to the Horse Protection Act of 1970.

1. “Put the Agriculture Department in charge of licensing inspectors and have it assigned an inspector to any show that requests one.”


• This is already done. Each Horse Industry Organization (HIO) is certified by the USDA. Each HIO is required to submit a handbook to the USDA that details their inspection process, rules, and how they properly administer HPA guidelines. The USDA approves the handbook every year and is a requirement for re-certification.

• DQPs are trained by USDA-certified HIO personnel. The training is attended and observed by the USDA. USDA personnel are part of the training process. The initial training is 16 hours.

• DQPs are required to take continuing education/training classes each year to be recertified. A minimum of four hours is required.  The required training sessions for recertification are attended by and observed by USDA personnel. The USDA teaches at the required training sessions.
• Current guidelines:

Inspectors assigned by USDA:

• Currently, reputable horse shows partner with an HIO. The HIO inspectors who are certified by USDA certified instructors and are trained by the USDA are responsible for the inspections at the horse show and they inspect every horse participating.

• Under the proposed change, horse shows would voluntarily request inspectors from the USDA. There is no requirement to do so. If they don’t request inspectors to be assigned then there will be no inspections at said horse show unless the USDA makes a surprise visit. The USDA does not have the capability to monitor all horse shows.

• The result is that fewer horses will be inspected and there is less enforcement of the HPA.

2. “Increases the number of inspectors the agency can use for surprise inspections at shows that don’t request a licensed inspector. Funding for the increase in inspectors would come from giving the department a share of the entrance fees that horse owners pay at shows.”

• If there are no more HIOs and the horse shows are not required to request that the USDA assign inspectors the result will be that the horse shows don’t request inspectors and no inspections take place. The USDA does not have the capacity to hire an adequate number of inspectors to replace all the HIO inspectors let alone do more of the inspections they currently do. When the USDA attends a horse show they do not inspect every horse, they only inspect a few and the HIO present at the horse show is inspecting every horse. The USDA then picks a few to inspect in addition to the HIO inspection.

3. “Outlaw the use of ‘action devices’ that rub on sore areas of a horse to increase pain”.

• There is no scientific or other evidence, that the action devices or the pads hurt the horse.

• A study by Dr. Ram C. Purohit, Associate Professor Department of Large Animal Surgery and Medicine School of Veterinary Medicine Auburn University, AL, showed that action devices do not hurt horses.

• There is no doubt that soring hurts horses. The way to end soring is to look for it, blood test, swab for masking and caustic agents, you name it, then hold those accountable and ban anyone who continues to sore horses from the business

4. Increase penalties for soring, with fines of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to three years or both.

• The fact is that the USDA does not consistently punish violators of the HPA and because they have failed to do so there has been no real deterrent for soring trainers. Since the HPA became law over 40 years ago there have been 52 cases prosecuted by the government.  Many of these were from violations that occurred at shows where the USDA was not even present. The only thing that routinely happens when a USDA inspector finds a horse in violation is that the horse is disqualified from that specific show.

• Rarely does any violation result in any penalty by the USDA. The industry is already issuing the proposed violations.  SHOW HIO did so at this year’s Celebration. In fact, the only penalties issued for violations at the Celebration were issued by the Industry.

• Less than a month has elapsed since the 2012 Celebration and already the Industry has issued stiff and meaningful punishments. WHTA has issued two suspensions for swabs that have tested positive for a violation on two trainers. USDA still has not issued a single penalty for the swab results they received from the 2011 Celebration.

• In addition to the suspension handed down by the WHTA on the two trainers for their swab results, The Celebration stripped them of their ribbons, prize money and trophy.

• The Celebration also banned a trainer from participating in any Celebration event for two years.  SHOW HIO also imposed an additional five year minimum suspension and $5,000 fine on that trainer.  This is the $5,000 minimum penalty being proposed by the government. The industry is already doing it.