Skip to content

USDA Responds To Show

Editor's Note:  The Walking Horse Report is pleased to print the following letter fron Dr. Gipson to SHOW officials.  The Report requested permission from Dr. Gipson to print the letter and that request was granted today.



Dr. Doyle G. Meadows
Chief Executive Officer
P.O. Box 1010
Shelbyville, TN  37162

Dear Dr. Meadows:

This is in response to your letters of June 3 through July 23, 2009, in which you express multiple concerns about USDA officials' interpretation and enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and the regulations.

Please be assured that USDA is willing to work with you to resolve your concerns amicably. USDA is committed to having a productive relationship with all of its Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs). The HIOs have demonstrated their commitment to eliminating the cruel and inhumane practice of soring horses in order to alter their gait to gain a competitive advantage over competitors who comply with the HPA and the regulations. Accordingly, USDA will continue to work with you, other members of SHOW management, and your designated qualified persons (DQPs) to ensure that SHOW personnel are interpreting and following the HPA and the regulations properly, and to ensure that SHOW is committed to eliminating the cruel and inhumane practice of soring horses.

As you know, the cooperative enforcement partnership between USDA and HIOs has resulted in significant progress in eliminating the cruel and inhumane practice of soring horses. Although we continue to make progress, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to improve our soring detection procedures and HIO enforcement case adjudication procedures. Our joint training sessions on identifying sore horses have contributed to this effort and have been well received by both Veterinary Medical Officers (VMOs) and DQPs.

However, USDA does not relinquish its enforcement responsibilities or final decision-making authority under the HPA. USDA retains the final authority to institute enforcement proceedings any time it believes the purposes of the HPA are not being effectuated. Noncompliance by an HIO may result in decertification by USDA. SHOW has decided not to sign the Operating Plan. This decision by SHOW does not exempt it from its responsibilities under the HPA and the regulations.

We understand that you disagree with the letter of warning USDA recently issued to SHOW. While we believe the content of the letter requires no further explanation, we will take your comments under consideration, and we trust that you will provide the DQP in question with further training concerning soring detection methods and conflict resolution. Please be aware that refusal by a DQP to re-inspect a horse when requested by a VMO may result in a letter of warning to an HIO.

Dr. Doyle G. Meadows

Page 2

USDA also must clarify that any DQP who has provided private veterinary services for a specific horse or horse owner may not act as a DQP and inspect that horse, or any horse owned by the same owner, at a horse show. USDA also would appreciate being advised of DQP reassignments within 30 days of the scheduled horse show in order to facilitate proper recordkeeping and scheduling. Thank you for your courtesy in this matter.

USDA reviewed the DVD you sent us with your letter of July 23, 2009. Based on our review of the DVD, USDA determined that Dr. Johnson's inspection was in compliance with the HPA and the regulations. Additionally, the conversation between the SHOW DQP Coordinator Andy Messick and Dr. Johnson was misunderstood. According to Mr. Messick, the conversation related to the fact that the skin on a horse's pastern could not be flattened. At no time did Dr. Johnson instruct Mr. Messick to discontinue his attempt to attempt to flatten the skin on the horse's pastern. Video says otherwise.

Finally, your claim that Acting Administrator Kevin Shea received a complaint about Dr. Johnson, and assured the person who he spoke with that Dr. Johnson would be disciplined is inaccurate. Mr. Shea communicated with all of the VMOs and instructed them to continue to inspect horses in a professional, courteous, and proper manner at all times while carrying out their enforcement responsibilities under the HPA. In addition, Dr. Johnson was not relieved of his inspection duties at any time. Dr. Johnson will continue to perform his inspection duties in a professional, courteous, and proper manner at all times.

We hope this information is helpful, and USDA looks forward to working with SHOW to eliminate the cruel and inhumane practice of soring horses.


Chester A. Gipson Deputy Administrator Animal Care


David Howard, Celebration/SHOW, Shelbyville,TN Charles McDonald,
Celebration/SHOW,Shelbyville, TN
Andy Messick, Celebration/SHOW, Shelbyville,TN Kevin Shea, APHIS/OA, Washington DC
Andy Morgan, APHIS/AC, Riverdale, MD
Rachel Cezar, APHIS/AC, Riverdale, MD
Mike Tuck, APHIS/AC, Riverdale, MD


More Stories

  • Latest Issue 12 9 19

    Read More
  • Dr. Goldentyer to officially replace Juarez

    APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea sent the following letter to stakeholders announcing the selection of Dr. Betty Goldentyer as the permanent replacement for Bernadette Juarez. Initially Dr. Goldentyer had been named Acting Deputy Administrator but will not be permanent in the position... Read More
  • The new face of FAST: Fowler named Director of Advancement

    If her name sounds familiar it’s likely because she’s played a role in two important facets of the local community. A seasoned veteran in the media business with a heart for the horse, Sadie Fowler is now combining her unique skillset as the new face of FAST — the Foundation of Advancement and Support for the Tennessee Walking Show Horse. Read More
  • TWHBEA hosts succinct general membership meeting

    The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) held its annual general membership meeting at 1:00PM on Friday December 5, 2019.  In a change from previous years the standing committee reports were not given during this meeting and were held for presentation at Saturday’s International Board of Directors’ meeting. Read More
  • TWHBEA honors 2019 award recipients

    The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association held its annual awards banquet on Friday, Dec. 6 at the TWHBEA Headquarters in Lewisburg, Tennessee. The evening was kicked off with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at 5:30 followed by dinner and awards presentations at 6:30... Read More
  • SHOW Judges’ Committee set for 2020

    The SHOW HIO recently approved the members of the 2020 Judges’ Committee. Following the 2019 show season two members of the committee rolled off per the committee’s guidelines. Jennifer Bingham, who was chair of the committee for the last several years and Doyle Meadows were the two members whose term expired in 2019.   Read More
  • Surrounded by horsepower

    An MTSU graduate is expanding her family’s multi-faceted business ventures which range from showing horses to owning NASCAR championship racing teams to developing real estate. Allison Thorson owns and manages ThorSport Farm on Barfield Crescent Road in Christiana. The 500-plus-acre farm has an indoor training facility and 80 stalls, plus countryside riding trails, she said... Read More
  • Obituary – Nancy Elliott

    Nancy Caroline Ballentine Elliott, age 65, passed away unexpectedly and peacefully on Friday, November 29, 2019 surrounded by her family. A social hour with family and friends will be held on Friday, December 6, 2019 at 1:00 followed by the celebration of her life at 2:00 at her beloved Ballentine Farms Venue, 6921 Sunset Lake Road, Fuquay Varina, NC. Read More
  • Thorsport to host Holiday Open House

    ThorSport Farm is hosting their annual holiday party and open house this coming Saturday December 7th from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Barn and facility tours, food and beverage, horse competitions, and lots of fun to be had!  Read More
  • 2019 Readers' Choice Ballot

    You don't have to be a member of anything to vote for your favorite horses, exhibitors, trainers and shows in The 38th Annual Walking Horse Report Readers' Choice conducted by The Walking Horse Report... Read More