Skip to content

USDA sends guidance to industry

The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) sent the following letter to provide guidance to the industry regarding the steps they will take to ensure their safety and the safety of others when their inspections resume. The COVID19 pandemic has affected both the horse show season and the USDA's ability to conduct inspections in the field.

The letter signed by Dr. Betty Goldentyer details steps USDA will take as well as what can be expected of participants which fall closely in line with the recommendations released earlier by the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' & Exhibitors' Association and Walking Horse Trainers' Association.

To Whom It May Concern:
I hope this message finds you well. As you look forward to the show season ahead, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Horse Protection Act (HPA) program shares this anticipation. This year has seen unprecedented changes and challenges to everyday life due to COVID-19.  USDA regards the safety of its employees, horse industry organizations, event managers and staff, and participants as a high priority as well as ensuring the welfare of the animals covered under the HPA.  This message is to provide you with the guidelines the USDA HPA program staff will be following when our attendance at HPA regulated events resumes.

USDA staff will follow the below procedures:

• Implement all precautions related to COVID-19 provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local health departments, USDA, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
• Follow guidelines or rules that have been placed by the State or Local government, and/or business.
• Maintain proper hygiene, including frequent hand washing/sanitizing, and practice social distancing.
o Maintain 6 feet physical distance from others when possible
o For job activities that require interaction with the general public, as best possible, establish a “zone” where USDA employees stand a safe distance away from others.
o Hand washing should include 20 seconds of soap contact with skin.
• Disinfect inspection area (i.e. tables and chairs) with disinfectant spray or wipes before and after use.  If surfaces are dirty, detergent or soap and water will be used to clean surfaces prior to disinfection.
• At a minimum, USDA staff will wear cloth or disposable surgical masks.
• USDA staff will remain in the inspection area to limit exposure to congregated people or surfaces not disinfected.
• USDA VMOs will disinfect hands between horses using wipes or hand sanitizer.
• USDA VMOs will disinfect equipment (i.e. tape measure, hoof testers) between horses using disinfectant spray or wipes.
• Maintain personal control over equipment and do not share equipment to the extent possible (such as pens, inspection equipment, etc.).
o If equipment must be shared with others, additional precautions will be taken to minimize virus spread by washing hands, using hand sanitizer, and wiping equipment down with disinfectant spray or wipes.
• Use alternate forms of greeting such as elbow or fist bumps, if necessary, instead of shaking hands.

Additionally, USDA expects that the following guidelines will be met.  Following these guidelines will ensure the safety of the USDA inspection team as well as the employees of the horse industry organizations, event managers and staff, and participants.  These guidelines are in accordance with the those adopted by adopted by The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' & Exhibitors' Association and Walking Horse Trainers' Association (TWHEA/WHTA) on May 15, 2020.

• Social distancing requirements will be enforced throughout the competition grounds at all times
• Show office will limit the number of persons entering the show office at one time and configure space to comply with social distancing
• Inspection area will be increased to allow all required personnel to social distance from each other
• Only one custodian per entry and one entry per Designated Qualify Person (DQP) in the inspection area at one time
• All DQPs will wear masks and be required to sanitize their hands after inspecting each entry
• All custodians of horses through inspection must wear a mask while the horse is in the inspection area
• Warmup areas will be as large as possible and where applicable have multiple warm up areas (with a DQP monitoring each area) to comply with social distancing guidelines
• Enforce only one trainer, one exhibitor and one groom per entry while in the warmup area (juveniles may have one additional adult in warm up area, exception requests can be made to USDA staff)

We appreciate your time to read this update. We look forward to continuing to work together toward achieving our common goals. If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Dr. Aaron Rhyner at 970-494-7484.

Betty Goldentyer, DVM
Deputy Administrator
Animal Care

Click here to read the letter in its entirety. 

More Stories

  • **Updated Horse Show Schedule

    The Walking Horse Report will provide daily updates to the list of canceled and postponed horse shows... Read More
  • Celebration selects judging panel

    The 82nd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration will be judged by the experienced panel of Rollie Beard, Ross Campbell, Mike Hilley, Sam Sorrell and Leigh Stuart. The panel has a collective 20 Celebration’s judged between them.  Read More
  • Celebration making plans for 82nd World Championship

    The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration board of directors continued to finalize plans for the upcoming 82nd Annual Celebration to be held August 26th – September 5th. The board met July 6, 2020 and made some final decisions regarding the upcoming horse show in light of the COVID-19 recommendations from local, state and federal guidelines. Read More
  • Wartrace selects Slagle

    The Wartrace Horse Show has selected Rod Slagle to mark the cards for their 114th Anniversary event. The show will be held Jernigan Field in Wartrace on August 1, 2020, beginning at 6:00 pm. Read More
  • WHT Auxiliary supports education year after year

    The Walking Horse Trainers’ Auxiliary is a national non-profit organization dedicated to charitable organizations. Each year the Auxiliary awards scholarships to any person involved with Tennessee Walking Horses who is furthering his/her education.  Read More
  • Coy Sanderson hospitalized

    The Walking Horse Report has recently learned that Coy Sanderson, new baby of Clay Sanderson and Kasie Caldwell has been admitted to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville with a heart condition. At this point they are unsure of how long baby Coy will be in the hospital... Read More
  • Red Carpet Show of the South accepting online entries

    The Red Carpet Show of the South, scheduled for Saturday July 25, will accept online entries via The show will accept both online and in person entries. If you enter online and need to scratch an entry – do so at least 1 hour before the show starts and you will not be charged for that entry. Read More
  • Obituary – Charlene Cox

    Charlene Cox, age 67, of Seymour, Tennessee passed away on July 4, 2020. She was preceded in death by her parents Charles and Maloy Proffitt Allen. A horse enthusiast, Charlene was known across the East Tennessee, North Carolina and Alabama show circuit. In addition to showing, she also enjoyed judging. Charlene judged the Racking Horse World Celebration in 2015. Read More
  • Get the news…FAST

    Hello Tennessee Walking Horse enthusiasts and friends,

    We are so happy to see so many of you finally enjoying horse shows this summer. We look forward to the continued support of these shows and hope everyone stays safe and healthy while attending...

    Read More
  • Marshall County Horseman's Association revises class schedule

    The Marshall County Horseman's Association Horse Show, scheduled for July 24 in Lewisburg, Tennessee, has added two classes to their original schedule... Read More