Skip to content

USDA Moves Towards Mandatory Penalties



Reprinted from Nashville Tennessean

Responding to renewed outrage over the abuse of Tennessee Walking Horses, the federal government moved Tuesday toward stiffer, mandatory penalties for horse soring and other related violations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will implement a new rule requiring organizations that inspect horses to assess minimum penalties to violators of the Horse Protection Act, including violations from soring Tennessee Walking Horses.

Currently, outside organizations licensed by the USDA and certified by the department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service can inspect horses for soring and other violations. The new rule would require these organizations to assess the same level of federally mandated penalties in any horse show they are inspecting.

The new final rule will be published by the government Thursday and will take effect on July 9.

Soring is the practice of pouring caustic chemicals on the hooves and lower legs of horses to induce the “Big Lick,” the high leg kick that wins prizes in horse competitions. Last month, the Humane Society of the United States released a video showing Collierville trainer Jackie McConnell abusing and soring horses.

McConnell later pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating the Horse Protection Act in exchange for a sentence of probation.

According to a USDA statement released to The Tennessean, any violation of the Horse Protection Act will now require the horse in violation to be dismissed from the show. If the horse is shown to be sore, the new rule will also require those responsible for the soring to be suspended from participating in shows, exhibitions, sales, or auctions. These suspensions would increase in length based on the prior number of violations an individual had, said a USDA official.

“The final rule will also help ensure a level playing field for competitors at all horse shows,” said the statement. “Previously, as some horse industry organizations have declined to issue sufficiently serious penalties to deter soring, those shows have attracted more competitors than shows where horse organizations have used APHIS’ minimum penalty protocols. With this final rule, competitors now know that inspections and enforcement will take place consistently at all shows they and their horses attend.”

SHOW, an industry organization based in Shelbyville, has opposed minimum penalties in the past. After a USDA Inspector General’s report on the industry recommended that the department develop and implement protocols for more consistent penalties, SHOW officials wrote a letter saying that it had “met or exceeded” all of the standards identified in the report and did not think mandatory penalties were necessary.

 

 

More Stories

  • Obituary - Karen Pendleton

    Karen Jo Wright Pendleton, 66, of Mt. Sterling, died Monday, Feb. 12, at her residence surrounded by her family. She was born Mar. 15, 1951 in Lexington to the late Wheeler and Retta Stephens Wright. Read More
  • APHIS launches webpage for frequently requested records

    The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is launching a new “Frequently Requested Records” page on our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) e-reading room, in accordance with the FOIA statute Read More
  • Pre-entry available for Rising Star Ranch Colt Preview

    The Rising Star Ranch Colt Preview showcases the new crop of stars that will be coming to the show rings in 2018. At Rising Star Ranch we want to help the trainers and owners present their entries in our Colt Preview in the most professional manner... Read More
  • Youth Council hosts first annual “Tennessee Globewalkers” basketball game

    We are doing it again! Having fun and raising money to help one of our own! You’ve heard of the “Harlem Globetrotters.” Now you have a chance to see and experience the “Tennessee Globewalkers!"... Read More
  • Owners excel in 2017

    Valentine’s Day and honoring the owners with an annual banquet always come close together and highlight February. The Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) hosted a fabulous banquet with their usual tremendous crowd on Saturday, Feb. 10. The banquet was hosted to honor those who did well in 2017. Read More
  • Trainers' Show offers rich history; a must stop for many contenders

    The Walking Horse Trainers’ Association serves as host to its annual show each year, oftenreferred to by industry insiders as simply “The Trainers’ Show” — and it’s become a must stop for many of the industry’s best of the best as they embark on the new show season. Read More
  • Equine Education – coming to Shelbyville!

    The youth is the future of the walking horse industry, and, quite simply, the more kids interested, the better off the industry. That’s the line of thinking Jerry Harris had when he began organizing Equine In Education, a program scheduled to take place in Shelbyville, Tennessee March 9 at the Calsonic Arena. Read More
  • Shane Shiflet Photography Special

    Starting Monday Feb. 12 through noon on Feb. 16, you can buy 5 images between 2008 and 2017 from any show for $175. Over a 50% savings! These will be emailed, cropped and color corrected high res images that you will own to do whatever you like.   Read More
  • FAST Spring Showcase adds class

    The FAST Spring Showcase, scheduled for Apr. 13-14, has added a class to their original schedule. Class 11a on Friday evening will be Amateur Lite-Shod... Read More
  • WHAA hosts barn party & auction

    Items for the auction are needed. Breeding fees to some of the top stallions in the industry and training fees for many of the top trainers will be available at the auction. Everyone is encouraged to bring your horses to preview for the upcoming show season. Read More