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USDA To Mandate Penalties For HIOs In 2011



By Jeffrey Howard

Copyright Walking Horse Report 2010

The United States Department of Agriculture has informed all Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs) that the proposed 2010 Horse Protection Penalty Protocol will be mandatory in 2011.  The penalty protocol was originally sent earlier in the year with the 2010 Points of Emphasis.  The Points of Emphasis were enforced in 2010 by the HIOs, however the penalty protocol was a recommended protocol thus not mandated in 2010.

In the letter sent August 12, 2010 from Dr. Chester A. Gipson, Deputy Administrator, it stated:
“The recommended penalty protocol in 2010 will now be mandatory in 2011.  The penalty protocol will need to be added to all HIO Rulebooks, which will now require approval prior to the 2011 Show Season.”

The Penalty Protocol calls for the first offense of the scar rule to require a 2 week suspension, the second violation to be 60 days and the third and all subsequent violations for the lifetime of the trainer to be a one-year suspension.

The first unilateral sore violation requires a 60 day suspension, the second 120 days and the third and all subsequent violations will carry a one-year suspension.  The first bilateral violation will be one year, the  second two years and the third and all subsequent will carry a four-year suspension.

A pre-show foreign substance will result in the horse being dismissed while a post-show foreign substance will carry a two-week suspension.  A pre-show equipment violation will result in dismissal, while a post-show equipment violation will carry a two-week suspension.  Shoeing violations, heel-toe violations and unruly/fractious horse violations all will result in the dismissal of the horse from that event.  A violation of a suspension will result in an additional six-month suspension.

In a letter dated October 15, 2010 from Dr. Gipson, the HIOs were informed of the timeline for submitting their rulebooks for 2011.  All rulebooks with penalties, the hearing process and inspection process must be submitted by December 1, 2010.

“The following HIO rulebook information is to be submitted to the Department for review:  the HIO penalty protocol; the hearing process; and the Designated Qualified Person (DQP) inspection process.  The information is to be received by the Department on or before December 1, 2010.  On or before January 1, 2011, the Department will notify the HIO of the approval or disapproval of the submitted information.”

The letter also stated that the penalties listed in the rulebook will be evaluated to make sure they are equal to or greater than those listed in the penalty protocol given by the USDA.  Also, all HIOs must recognize the violations given by the USDA or another HIO.

“Suspensions and disqualifications issued by the Department or an HIO are currently to be enforced by all HIOs and show managements.”

The penalty protocol does state that if an HIO imposes and enforces a penalty that the USDA believes effectuates the purpose of the Act and the regulations, the USDA will not initiate a Federal case against the violator.  If the HIO does not enforce a penalty that effectuates the purpose of the Act and the regulations, the USDA may initiate a federal case against any persons who participated in the entry, showing and, if appropriate, transportation of a sore horse (including, for example, the owner, custodian, trainer, rider, and/or transporter).

Currently, none of the HIOs that inspect both performance and pleasure Tennessee Walking Horses have submitted their rulebook nor made public comment as to their interpretation or acceptance of the mandatory penalties for 2011.

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