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USDA Responds to Points of Emphasis HIO Questions



Editor's Note:  The following is Dr. Cezar's response to the questions posed by the HIO Working Group concerning the USDA's Points of Emphasis.  The answers are highlighted in bold below.

1. Is the 2010 Points of Interest mandatory for all certified HIOs?  If so, what are the consequences if an HIO chooses not to comply? Yes the 2009 and 2010 Points of Emphasis are mandatory for all certified HIOs.  HIO's that fail to implement the 2009 and 2010 Points of Emphasis and enforce the HPA and Regulation will be subjected to action as outlined in the HPA and Regulations.

2.a)  With regard to various of the points, and in view of Section 3 of the Act, please clarify that the HPA, Regs, and policies are written with the intent to address only horses which have their gaits accentuated by a response to pain?  The Act and regulations was put into place to eliminate the practice of soring that is done to accentuate the gait of a horse.  If you will review the footnotes under Section 3 of the HPA, this will clarify that the intent was for altering the natural gait of the walking horse.  (P.L. 91-540, § 3, Dec. 9, 1970, 84 Stat. 1405; P.L. 94-360, § 4, July 13, 1976, 90 Stat. 915.)
(b) Please clarify that even a pathological condition (i.e. founder/laminitis) would if it could be expected to cause a horse pain, thus illegally accentuating its gait and disadvantaging other competitors.  This is clarified in Section 2 of the HPA and Section 11.1 of the regulations that any horse reasonably expected to suffer pain, distress or inflammation can be sore.  Laminitis/founder is inflammation of the laminae. 
(c) Please clarify that whether the horse qualifies depends not only on certain findings criteria (5° rotation of coffin bone), but also on whether a class in which the horse is entered calls for an accentuated gait, and that if those conditions are met, then the presumption is that the condition is being abused.  This is clarified in Section 2 of the HPA and Section 11.1 of the regulations that any horse reasonably expected to suffer pain, distress or inflammation can be sore.  Laminitis/founder is inflammation of the laminae. 
(d) Please clarify that if such a horse is at a sale or auction, then such rotation would require that the horse be deemed unsound.   This is clarified in Section 2 of the HPA and Section 11.1 of the regulations that any horse reasonably expected to suffer pain, distress or inflammation can be sore.  Laminitis/founder is inflammation of the laminae. 

3.(a)  Please clarify that the other breeds fall under the HPA only so far as they relate to the issue of soring.  As stated in the HPA (c)The Secretary shall prescribe by regulation requirements for the appointment by the management of any horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction of persons qualified to detect and diagnose a horse which is sore or to otherwise inspect horses for the purposes of enforcing this Act. Under the Horse Protection regulations (2) The DQP shall physically inspect: (i) All Tennessee Walking Horses and racking horses entered for sale or auction, (ii) all Tennessee Walking Horses and racking horses entered in any animated gait class (whether under saddle, horse to cart, or otherwise), (iii) all Tennessee Walking Horses and racking horses entered for exhibition before they are admitted to be shown, exhibited, sold, or auctioned, and (iv) all Tennessee Walking Horses and racking horses tyed first in their class or event at any horse show, horse exhibition, horse sale, or horse auction. Such inspection shall be for the purpose of determining whether any such horses are in violation of the Act or regulations. Such physical examination shall be conducted in accordance with the inspection procedures provided for in Sec. 11.21 of this part. The DQP shall observe horses in the warm-up ring and during actual performances whenever possible, and shall inspect any Tennessee Walking Horse or racking horse at any time he deems necessary to determine whether any such horse shown, exhibited, sold, or auctioned is in violation of the Act or regulations. If present at other shows, he shall examine any horse which he determines should be examined for compliance with the Act and regulations.
 (b) Please clarify that checking breeds other than TWH and RH remains at the discretion of Show Management and/or the DQP UNLESS a particular class is a mixed breed class also containing TWH and/or RH, in which case all horses in said class must be inspected, regardless of breed.  Section 11.21 (3) states that "The DQP shall observe and inspect all horses for compliance with the provisions set forth in Sec. 11.2(a) through Sec. 11.2(c) of this part. All action devices, pads, and other equipment shall be observed and/or examined to assure that they are in compliance with the regulations. All such equipment on horses examined postshow, and on horses examined preshow that are not clearly in compliance, shall be weighed and/or measured."  This give the DQP discretion to check any and all breeds at the horse shows if they see fit.  

4.(a) With regard to disqualifications and suspensions, please clarify that the intent of the Act is that violators are placed on suspension in order to deny them the benefit that might be derived from entering and showing horses trained with soring methods?  Under Section 6 (c) it states that "In addition to any fine, imprisonment, or civil penalty authorized under this section, any person who was convicted under subsection (a) of this section or who paid a civil penalty assessed under subsection (b) of this section or is subject to a final order under such subsection assessing a civil penalty for any violation of any provision of this Act or any regulation issued under this Act may be disqualified by order of the Secretary, after notice and an opportunity for a hearing before the Secretary, from showing or exhibiting any horse, judging or managing any horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction for a period of not less than one year for the first violation and not less than five years for any subsequent violation. Any person who knowingly fails to obey an order of disqualification shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $3,000 for each violation. Any horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction, or the management thereof, collectively and severally, which knowingly allows any person who is under an order of disqualification to show or exhibit any horse, to enter for the purpose of showing or exhibiting any horse, to take part in managing or judging, or otherwise to participate in any horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction in violation of an order shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $3,000 for each violation. The provisions of subsection (b) of this section respecting the assessment, review, collection, and compromise, modification, and remission of a civil penalty apply with respect to civil penalties under this subsection.
(b) Please clarify that if a trainer continues to realize such benefit from soring when those horses are entered in a show by others, including owners, then the intent of the Act is being circumvented?  This is stated in the Horse Protection Act Section 6 (b)(3) "If any person fails to pay an assessment of a civil penalty after it has become a final and unappealable order, or after the appropriate court of appeals has entered final judgment in favor of the Secretary, the Secretary shall refer the matter to the Attorney General, who shall recover the amount assessed in any appropriate district court of the United States. In such action, the validity and appropriateness of the final order imposing the civil penalty shall not be subject to review."

5. Please clarify whether appeals that result in suspensions during the off-season must be served at the beginning of the subsequent show season, and specify the dates to ensure the show season is under way when such penalty is served?  That is not requested by USDA in the recommended appeal process.

6. Why were the HIOs not given more time to take this to our boards and get more and better questions? The areas of the Horse Protection Act and the regulations placed under the titles of the Points of Emphasis would be able to answer the pertinent questions. 

7. Who came up with the penalty structure and what was it based on?  The Department developed the penalty structure and based on past operating plans and advise of the Office of General Counsel. 

8. Will there be a probation period that a violator can serve for a penalty as in the past?  No

9. Who determines if a protective boot is therapeutic? And what is a protective boot?  A protective boot is a device that may be needed when a horse is subject to possible harm from environment or exercise. Soft rubber or soft leather bell boots that are used as protective devices

10. Will USDA check other breeds in multi breed classes?  Yes if it is observed that the DQP did not inspect the horse properly.

11. It sounds (in the disqualification and suspension section) that anyone that knows or is kin to someone on suspension may not be able to participate at shows either, is this the intent? Could this be explained better? Example, if Joe in TN trains and is on suspension, would his dad who trains in Texas be allowed to show?  The intent is to make sure that violators are disqualified or suspended from showing, exhibiting, or entering any horse, directly or indirectly through any agent, employee, family member, corporation, partnership, or other device, and from judging, managing, or otherwise participating in any horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction, directly or indirectly through any agent, employee, family member, corporation, partnership, or other device.  If Joe in TN trains and is on suspension, his dad who trains in Texas will be allowed to show.  If Joe in TN trains his dad's horses,  assist his dad in training his horses that are in TX or pays for his dad to enters his horses in TX or TN, Joe would be in violation of his suspension. 

12. In the HPA database, is it saying we need to identify shows and DQPs assigned 30 days in advance? Yes

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