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WHR Interviews SHOW President Dr. Steve Mullins



The Walking Horse Report recently sat down with SHOW President Dr. Stephen L. Mullins to discuss the upcoming show season, the USDA impending revocation of its DQP program, the partnership with WHOA and the raising of its fees for 2011.  Dr. Mullins was kind enough to sit down for this extensive interview as he prepares for SHOW’s upcoming judges’ school, farrier clinic and industry roundtable meeting.

WHR – Can you update the industry on the status of your certification with the USDA?
SM – At the current time it is business as usual with the SHOW HIO.  We have been in receipt of three letters from Dr. Gipson and have responded to a couple of those in December.  We are working on the response to the last of those letters and our 30 day notice given in that letter ends around the 22nd of February.  At that time we will respond and if the USDA ultimately decertifies SHOW we will appeal any revocation of our license.

WHR – Would you be allowed to affiliate shows during that appeal process?
SM – Yes.  We believe that the Horse Protection Act allows for us to appeal any revocation and that during that process, which could take some time, we would be allowed to continue to inspect horses.  It is my hope that we don’t have to go down that road but that is completely out of my hands at this point in time.  The best thing this industry can do is to continue to affiliate horse shows, exhibit your horses and let the agency process takes its course.

WHR – There has been a lot of talk about a deal between WHOA and SHOW which would require amateurs to have WHOA issued Amateur Cards in order to show at SHOW events.  Has a deal been made?
SM – There has not been a deal struck between SHOW and WHOA.  We were presented a proposal from WHOA and my board took it under advisement and came back with a couple of changes, one of which was moving the International to the Calsonic Arena.  Our board asked WHOA to send them a copy of the financials, which President Bennett and several WHOA Board members who attended the meeting with my Board agreed to do,  in order to review them before submitting the counterproposal, and to this point we have not received them.  At this time, I am not sure if we will get them and thus currently we have no deal and exhibitors are not required to have an amateur card to show at SHOW events.

WHR – You have received a lot of pushback regarding increasing your fees for the horse card to $150 for an annual card and $50 for a day card.  Can you give me the reasons why you increased the card?
SM – First, let me say that I wish we could inspect horses for free and horse owners and horse shows would not have to absorb any of this cost.  Unfortunately, that is not reality and we can’t continue to count on the Celebration to fund SHOW’s losses and SHOW can’t continue to subsidize the industry or those shows which lose money.  We knew there would be critics of this funding model, just as there are many critics of our HIO.  We continue to believe that our mission of providing fair inspections, honest judging, eliminating the sore horse and supporting the compliant horse is the only way for this industry to reverse the negative impressions and perception of the USDA and other industry critics and ultimately allow this great horse to thrive once again.  Our trainers believe in this as well and have continued in 2009 and 2010 to bring horses to inspection when the USDA has been present and allowed those horse shows to continue.  Not to say anything bad about another HIO, but the other HIOs inspecting performance horses can’t say the same thing.

WHR – Is it SHOW’s thought that allowing the owner to absorb the cost is better than the horse show absorbing the cost?
SM – Yes.  Horse show development is a major area of concern for SHOW and we want to provide as many opportunities as possible for our great horse to be exhibited.  We are a show horse and without horse shows we will not be in business.  Right, wrong or indifferent the horse cards have allowed more horse shows to make money than if they had been charged an inspection fee.  Horse shows that make money will continue to have their show again and also allow charitable dollars to flow from our industry into communities across our country.  Yes, unfortunately that puts the burden once again on the horse owner, but a major goal of every horse owner should be to support the shows and encourage new shows to showcase their horses.

WHR – You are compared to the NHSC which had a $10 inspection fee and was able to breakeven if not make a little money before you took the reins in 2009.  Would that model not work now?
SM – First, there is no similarity in SHOW and the NSHC.  We are a completely different organization with a different structure, strategy and application of the HIO program.  Also, in 2008 the NHSC inspected 264 shows and 51,000 horses.  In 2010 SHOW inspected 154 shows and 24,000 entries so as you can see that model would not currently work.  If SHOW was inspecting 50,000 entries and continuing to grow, horse owners would see the price of their horse card cut drastically.  Unfortunately, our mission is to provide a respected, professional inspection process which effectuates the purposes of the HPA no matter how many horses are inspected.

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