"Today, Tennessee Walking Horses are known throughout the industry
as the breed that shows abused and tortured horses."

~ Jim Heird, Ph.D., Do Right By The Horse, February 2010

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity,
you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."

~ St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, February 27, 2011

NEWS and ARTICLES - More Members of the BOD of WHOA Resign

I have not heard any information regarding any decertifications as of yet. I will post as soon as I hear any news.

In the meantime, more of WHOA's members of the board are resigning. Rats deserting a sinking ship? Or rats revealing themselves for what they truly are? I am disappointed in the lot of them--it's clear to me what they think of the new decision. I guess following the law is not in these folks' vision of what WHOA is.

Below is the information from The Walking Horse Report. In brackets is the information on violations by these past BOD members.


Herschel Blessing Resigns From WHOA

Thursday, February 24, 2011
The Walking Horse Report has confirmed that Director Herschel Blessing from Bristol, Tenn., has resigned from his directorship at the Walking Horse Owners' Association today. This brings the total number of resignations from the WHOA board to five following the annual board of directors meeting on Feb. 12, 2011.

WHOA directors who have previously resigned include Bruce Vaughn, Valley City, Ohio [violation 2002, 1 1/2 year suspension 1992-1993]; Kathy Zeis, Douglasville, Ga. [violation 2005]; Virginia Stewart, Bell Buckle, Tenn. [violation 2001]; and George-Ann Pratt, Shelbyville, Tenn. The Report is contacting other board members regarding their status as members of the board of directors.

During the annual meeting of the WHOA board, an executive session was called and the board voted to continue its HIO and to accept the mandatory penalties proposed by the United States Department of Agriculture.

WHOA has since issued a news release explaining the reasoning behind the board's decision.

Two More Resignations from WHOA Board

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Walking Horse Report has confirmed that two more directors of the Walking Horse Owners Association have resigned this afternoon following on the heels of Herschel Blessing’s resignation this morning.

Deborah Williams, Argyle, Tx. [a Debbie Williams received a violation in 1995] and Newton Parks, Christiana, Tenn. bring to seven the number of resignations from the WHOA Board since their controversial annual board meeting on Feb. 12, 2011.

The Feb. 12 board meeting was held in executive session, an unusual development. WHOA meetings have traditionally been open to other association members and the press. During this executive session, the board voted to continue its HIO and adopt the mandatory penalties proposed by the United State Department of Agriculture for the 2011 season.

WHOA has since issued a news release explaining the reasoning behind the board’s decision but this has done little to quell the controversy surrounding WHOA and its recent actions.

Other directors who have previously resigned include Herschel Blessing, Bristol, Tenn.; Bruce Vaughn, Valley City, Ohio [violation 2002, 1 1/2 year suspension 1992-1993]; Kathy Zeis, Douglasville, Ga. [violation 2005]; Virginia Stewart, Bell Buckle, Tenn. [violation 2001]; and George-Ann Pratt, Shelbyville, Tenn.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

NEWS and ARTICLES - SHOW's Lawyers Are Gonna Be RICH!

Okay, that's not really what this post is, but it's where things seem to be going. SHOW is going to hold an industry stakeholders meeting tomorrow night, probably to prepare for their continued fight against the USDA. February 22nd is the date that they must have their new rulebook in place or they risk being decertified. Obviously they are willing to take that risk.

SHOW asked WHOA, TWHBEA and WHTA for questions and provided answers, which are included in the below Q&A article from the Walking Horse Report. Some industry stakeholders meeting...they didn't even bother asking ALL the HIOs to attend.

Honestly, I don't have much to say because I believe SHOW is making themselves look like idiots as is with the answers to these questions. My favorite is the answer to number 8. Yes, SHOW, you believe that the new mandates go beyond the HPA. But there is nothing in the HPA specifying how the USDA can enforce the HPA, only that they are required to enforce it, and there is nothing keeping them from using whatever means necessary.

Overall, I considered commenting on each question, but I'd be repeating myself over and over. We all know SHOW is guilty of continuing to allow sore horses at their shows and sales, and we all know they are fighting the new mandates because they want to keep things status quo.

I do know this, however. SHOW is right: you don't have to affiliate with an HIO to hold a show. However, when the USDA shows up--and they find out about "wildcat" shows, believe me--and the show is breaking the law by allowing sore horses in, then the management will receive a fine and the show can be shut down. It's like if the Feds show up at a dogfight: everyone can be arrested and the facility shut down and searched. So if you want to chance it and go to a wildcat show, then have fun spending time in jail!

The major thing SHOW is missing overall here is that continuing to fight the USDA is admitting guilt. A TRUE industry change means obeying the federal law and getting rid of sore horses and sore horse trainers, owners, and exhibitors, period. There are plenty of ways to do this, and SHOW isn't interested in any of those. If the industry would change, then their flat shod sound horses would be worth just as much money as the current sore padded horses.

But hey, I wish I was a lawyer for SHOW...I'd be making BANK! Per the last question, OF COURSE the lawyers will work at no cost necessary to defend any management of any show that doesn't affiliate with an HIO and is caught soring! They'll make a lot of money off SHOW doing it! Lawyers don't work for free, folks--the money has to come from somewhere, and I bet it's from that $150 showing card. Remember: the only people who win lawsuits are the lawyers!

However, there is one answer I agree with, and that's the answer to number 4.



Thursday, February 17, 2011

The SHOW HIO is hosting an industry stakeholder meeting this Friday, February 18, 2011 at the Blue Ribbon Circle Club on the show grounds of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn. The meeting will begin at 5:00PM CST. The meeting will include presentations by Dr. Doyle Meadows, CEO of The Celebration and Frank Eichler, attorney for SHOW HIO. After the presentations, there will be the opportunity to ask questions of Eichler, Meadows, SHOW President Dr. Steve Mullins and SHOW DQP Coordinator Tony Edwards.

SHOW asked WHOA, TWHBEA and WHTA to submit questions in advance of the meeting from their memberships and the questions and answers are listed below. These questions and answers will also be handed out in the meeting and can be discussed more if needed at the meeting’s Q&A session.

1. Who is not invited to this meeting? Everyone is invited.

2. Is SHOW the only one talking? It is SHOW’s forum but that is the reason for the questions.

3. Can people bring their video camera to record it? We are in serious discussions with the USDA and prefer no (as Dr Gipson said to the Trainers in TN and KY) but your call.

4. Since it’s during dinnertime, who's bringing the snacks? Seriously?

5. How many horse shows has SHOW signed up this year? Will provide ytd at meeting but as in years past, most shows don’t give notice of affiliation until about 30 days prior to a show.

6. Will SHOW show some video from the KY sale they checked so everybody can see what’s passing this year with SHOW? Same inspection process as last 2 years.

7. Who’s bringing the booze, everybody's probably gonna need it. Same as 4.

8. On what grounds does SHOW rely that would support their contention that they are not subject to the supervision and mandates of the USDA? SHOW has never said it is not subject to supervision and mandates that are required by HPA. SHOW believes the mandate for “mandatory penalties” goes beyond the HPA and Rulemaking authority. For instance if the USDA can mandate penalties can they mandate 1 year for any ticket next year - for any scar, foreign substance, etc.? Can the USDA mandate a 6 month jail sentence?

9. With the pending de-certification of SHOW, what avenue of appeal does the SHOW personal intend to pursue to regain the ability to perform the duties and responsibilities of a working HIO? IF the USDA decertifies SHOW it will follow the appeal process under the HPA and Federal Procedures.

10. In said appeal, what points of law does SHOW intend to rely on to have the Court circumvent the power that the USDA has held for the last 40 years, with regard to the enforcement of the HPA? Most have been disclosed to the USDA in Response to HSUS Petition and others will be disclosed at appropriate time. Lawyers are not in the habit of pre-disclosing their strategy during the pre-hearing stages of a conflict.

11. During the period of de-certification, and while pursuing it's appeal, will SHOW refer it's Show Mgrs. to WHOA in order that the shows themselves can survive while SHOW is searching for new life via their appeal? Absolutely NOT. We believe, if WHOA has accepted the mandatory penalties, that it would be a huge disservice to the trainers, owners exhibitors and custodians to subject them to penalties that SHOW believes go beyond the HPA and Regs. SHOW will provide a process to support the Show managers to allow them to continue to affiliate with SHOW.

12. During the litigation period, who will provide the funding for SHOW to litigate their appeal through the Federal Appellate system? The same group that has provided the services to date at no charge to anyone in the Industry– no one on the Chat, or any other owner, trainer, exhibitor, custodian, association, or Organization has provided anything or any funds to date.

13. Who is paying Dr. Mullins salary? SHOW Inc. At no time has Frank Eichler or anyone else committed to, or paid $.01 of Dr. Mullin's salary.

14. What happens if a HIO is decertified? It can appeal that decertification. If after all appeals it is deemed still decertified it is no longer an HIO under the HPA.

15. Does a show have to use an HIO? No and this will be explained more fully at the meeting. It is a lengthy explanation.

16. When can SHOW become separate from the Celebration? Will be explained further at the meeting along with a Unity Proposal, that was initially discussed with the Presidents of WHOA, WHTA, and TWHBEA last Friday afternoon.

17. Will Tony Edwards remain as Chief of the DQPs? Yes.

18. Will the appeals process remain the same? Yes.

a. Will the Committee who hears the appeals be owners/exhibitors themselves? (conflict of interest) No they have not nor will there be any owners, exhibitors or trainers on the Committee.

b. Will the Committee produce the videos that they made which show the alleged violation? (a trainer was denied this, after being assured that the videos would be produced) To the extent one exists yes. There have been times when a video malfunctioned or at smaller shows was not used.

c. Will fair weight be given to DQP testimony without retaliation to said DQP? (one DQP lost his job because he testified on a trainer's behalf) Yes. As always there are 2 sides to every story. SHOW has not terminated a DQP for testifying on behalf of a trainer.

19. Will SHOW allow owners/exhibitors to video the inspections of their horse(s) without retaliation and grudges being held? Under the Regs only the trainer, rider and groom are allowed in inspection area. If another individual from those authorized under the Regs can video from outside the inspection area they are welcome to.

20. How does SHOW justify 100% of appeals being upheld???? No need to “justify”. The tickets were issued and the independent Hearing Committee reviewed the evidence and upheld the violation.

21. Does SHOW use tickets and fines to make payroll????? No, but it is part of the revenue which goes towards all SHOW expenses.

22. How can we, or have we even tried to use the HSUS financial audit report (or any other means) to discredit the motives and credibly of the HSUS, when they attack us? Has anyone filed suit after their attack on the TWH industry after their video/mini documentary that's posted all over the internet that spreads lies and pure propaganda? Sorry, but not a focus of SHOW right now as part of trying overcome potential decertification and any upcoming Rulemaking. The Industry has not contributed to any legal support to date on the current problems so highly doubtful they would contribute to a lawsuit against the HSUS.

23. How can we get judges to tie the correct FLAT SHOD HORSE for the CLASS? Educate judges and hold them accountable. The Judging Committee will be in place this year to support the judging standards. Like everything else, it takes time to correct years of not complying with standards. However, everyone should please remember just because you didn’t get tied 1st, 2nd, etc. does not mean the Judge was wrong, crooked, etc.

24. I'm sure many will be asking, but how do they expect the show horse to survive if they continue to add costs in an already suffering economy? Will be more fully discussed at the meeting but how does the Industry expect the Celebration or anyone else to front and pay the expenses for a compliant HIO? No one is requiring anyone to exhibit at a SHOW event. But if you do, a horse card is required to help pay the expenses of SHOW.

25. Exactly which penalties don't they like that keep them from signing the penalty structure? The “mandatory penalties” are for the life of the trainer, exhibitor, owner and custodian. SHOW does not believe the USDA has the authority to require “mandatory penalties”. For further reasoning please read the response to the HSUS Petition and letters sent to Dr. Gipson in early December 2010.

26. What about a versatility show? Will they make those horses have a SHOW card and require a DQP when one wasn't required in the past? No.

27. Should owners remain confident about the horse industry in the event that HIOs are in the de-certification process due to not accepting the mandated penalties? Of course and why not? The horses are looking better than ever, the trainers are, for the most part, doing a very good job, the economy is starting to come back and it’s almost show season. Why let any potential conflict impact your sport or hobby? Let the lawyers fight or work it out – that’s what they are (not) being paid for.

28. During the de-certification process what year’s penalty structure will SHOW be working under? 2009 or 2010? Current 2011 SHOW Penalty protocol – identical to 2010 with a couple of minor changes.

29. What type of inspection environment can be expected if the USDA comes to a HIOs' affiliated show during that HIOs' de-certification process? We should assume standard USDA process.

30. How many show cards need to be sold to reach SHOWs revenue needs? Probably close to 3000-3500. Just like the NHSC needed to inspect approximately 51K horses in 2008 at a $6-10 per inspection fee to cover its cost. A good comparison would be based upon the # of horses inspected in 2010 the Commission fee structure for 2010 would have needed to be $13.50 - $22.50 per inspection.

31. Can WHOA reverse its agreement to accept the mandated penalties from the USDA? Ask WHOA. I would think it somewhat disingenuous to commit to the USDA to accept the “mandatory penalties” and then if SHOW is successful to say – sorry Dr. Gipson we were kidding and waiting for SHOW to be successful.

32. How come we can not get a gauge or shoe rules that will measure factory stamped keg shoes and Trail Pleasure Walking shoes within reason? Every time we get our horses shod, we are paying extra to have them ground down to fit into the gauge no matter what brand of shoe we purchase. I understand this a little with the Trail Pleasure Shoes as they are a handmade shoe and may vary from pair to pair, but the factory stamped keg shoe for Country Pleasure is a little silly and hurts many of the backyard horse owners who might want to come to a local TWH show and compete in this entry level division. Rules requiring that pleasure shoes be ground down is an abuse of good sensibility. Maybe someone could explain to me why we are doing this? To many, this seems like another way to make money selling the gauge??? First, the shoeing rules were passed by the rules committee which consisted of a large cross section of this industry. The CP class has the stamped keg shoe as required by the rules committee and backed up by the judge’s panel in 2011. There is a “cheater” keg which will not measure known as a St. Croix. However, the Diamond Classic will measure and can be taken off the shelf and placed on the hoof. Next time you contact the tack shop ask for a Diamond Classic. Shoe gauges are available from the SHOW office at 931-684-9506.

33. When the weight limit was eliminated on pleasure shoes and the new dimensions put in place along with the use of the gauge, no one accounted for the tungsten "loaded" shoes being used in non-tungsten divisions like Country Pleasure, Trail Pleasure, and Lightshod. For clarity I am speaking about pleasure shoes which meet the dimensions, but have been machined out and tungsten welded in for additional weight. I am not speaking about a full tungsten fabricated shoe, which is easy to spot, I am talking about tungsten loaded shoes. These would be undetectable without pulling and weighing shoes. Without the weight limit and penalties to go with it, these loaded shoes if caught only face an illegal shoeing fine of $100. They provide a huge unfair advantage in the show ring. I am fine with tungsten shoes or even loaded shoes in their own division but still would appreciate a level playing field. First, shoes were pulled post show at the Celebration and will continue to be pulled. Many other shows do not have official farriers available. This problem is a real concern to SHOW and we have added a new penalty for the “loaded” shoe in the 2011 penalty matrix.

34. Is there any relief in sight for the removal of the saddle requirement in inspection? This is a requirement that really makes showing not too fun. I believe I hate this rule more than any, especially when showing western. I understand why it was put in place, but after a few years of good behavior, can we get some relief on this? This makes prepping a pleasure horse a real task as many of them take a good amount of warming up before showing. It also causes a great deal of wear and tear on an expensive western show saddle and our backs. Not to mention the additional labor expenses for many performance trainers with multiple horses. Any help or insight on this would be greatly appreciated. Sorry but not on the top ten list of things to challenge. Unfortunately some historical behavior caused this rule and like many things that have occurred in this industry the few cause pain for the rest.

35. If we pay for our $150 card and the SHOW HIO is de-certified, will they refund any of our money? I understand SHOW automatically issues the horse a card after you pay for four $50 individual inspections ($200 total). Do you think in this time of uncertainty they could lower that to three $50 inspections (the cost of the card)? No. That would eliminate the risk of losing money to many exhibitors during negotiations with USDA and might solve SHOWs problems with uncertainty in the market place during the early part of show season. No. SHOW will provide a process for shows to continue to affiliate shows.

36. Why don’t the Trainers or TWHBEA start their own HIO like the Owners or restart the NHSC? Each entity can request to start and certify their own HIO. The NHSC was disbanded and it can not be started again.

37. Does the USDA have to inspect horses if they show up at a show or is it Show Management’s responsibility? This will be discussed in more detail on Friday but Under Section 4 of the HPA “The management of any horse show or horse exhibition shall disqualify any horse from being shown or exhibited (1) which is sore or (2) if the management has been notified by a person appointed in accordance with regulations under subsection (c) of this section or by the Secretary that the horse is sore.”(emphasis added). Show mgt required to have someone inspect to disqualify “sore” horse or otherwise in violation of the Act or Regulations – foreign substance, shoeing violations, high band, heavy chain, etc. They must ensure that only allowed lubricants are used, inspect all first place horses, ensure horses that are disqualified are not re-entered, keep records, provide information under HPA/HPR and reason for disqualification. In section 4 (e) it states that “the Secretary, or any representative of the Secretary duly designated by the Secretary, may inspect any horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction or any horse at any such show, exhibition, sale, or auction.” (emphasis added.)

The USDA is not required to inspect horses at a horse show. It is still show management’s responsibility to inspect and disqualify sore horses or for other violations of the HPA/Regs whether the USDA shows up or not.

38. The question(s) I have relates to the SHOW card and finances in general. Based on discussions with many people, the $150 SHOW card and the associated $50 increase for 2011 is the biggest issue for most. Did SHOW look at either leaving the fee at the same 2010 price or perhaps lowering it to $75, with the hope that more people would buy in? In other words, could SHOW obtain their revenue target by having more people purchase the card than did in 2010? What is the SHOW card revenue target for 2011? Was analysis done to see if the total revenue target could be obtained without raising the card price? SHOW and its Board looked at numerous variations for funding. Costs were decreased where possible. The total budgets for the NHSC in 2008 and SHOW in 2011 were close with different categories plus or minus. The total expenses for the NHSC in 2008 were approximately $500K. The total estimated expenses for SHOW for 2011 are approximately $575K. Unfortunately there are numerous differences and a side by side comparison is difficult if not impossible. Unfortunately whether it is the economy, or past problems, or whatever, the fact is that the number of inspections in 2010 were approximately 23k as compared to 51K in 2008. A good comparison would be, based upon the # of horses inspected in 2010, the Commission fee structure for 2010 would have needed to be $13.50 - $22.50 per inspection.

39. Is SHOW set up as a 501 (c) 3 for tax reporting purposes? Yes.

40. While in the appeals process of decertification, what set of rules will the HIOs operate under? Will they go back to rule sets prior to 2009 when the POE's first popped up? According to the Regulations “Any horse industry organization or association whose DQP program certification has been revoked may appeal such revocation to the Administrator in writing within 30 days after the date of such revocation and, if requested, shall be afforded an opportunity for a hearing. All DQP licenses issued by a horse industry organization or association whose DQP program certification has been revoked shall expire 30 days after the date of such revocation, or 15 days after the date the revocation becomes final after appeal,…” As is typical in most litigation or conflict resolution procedures the underlying decision is stayed until final appeal. SHOW will operate under the same set of Rules, including those POE’s that are in concert and comport with the HPA and Regs, as it has previously stated.

41. Will SHOW do anything to help Show management if they are decertified? SHOW’s lawyers will agree for 2011 to defend, at no cost, any show manager who affiliates their show with SHOW even if it is decertified, and receives a ticket from the USDA, so long as show management follows the SHOW Rulebook and or any request by a SHOW official at the show regarding any HPA or Reg requirement.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

NEWS and ARTICLES - WHOA Starts Their New Strategy at Annual Convention

From The Walking Horse Report...my comments are below the article...


WHOA Kicks Off Important 2011 At Annual Convention

Monday, February 14, 2011

By Jeffrey Howard

Copyright WHR 2011

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) held its annual general membership meeting and board of directors meeting on Saturday February 12, 2011 at the Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tenn. In an unusual move, the board of directors meeting was held in executive session with all media and non-board members excused from the meeting.

The Walking Horse Report has confirmed with multiple sources close to WHOA that in the executive session WHOA decided to use its own HIO and will accept the USDA mandatory penalties, a move that surprised many directors. The move prompted the resignations by board members Kathy Zeis and Bruce Vaughn after the meeting.

The Walking Horse Report has contacted President Kim Bennett but at this time Bennett did not want to comment on the actions taken in the meeting. He did inform Walking Horse Report that he would comment at an appropriate time in the future.

The general membership meeting focused on many of the challenges facing WHOA in 2011 and a review of the year 2010. At the top of the list of problems facing WHOA is its financial stability. Full-time staff has been reduced and the association faces debt that it can’t currently pay. Membership revenue has dropped drastically in the last two years. In 2008 membership revenue was $202,150, in 2009 it was $148,635 and in 2010 it fell to $81,165. Total income of the association has dropped from $663,813.96 in 2008 to $395,498.90, a 40% decline in 2010. Expenses in 2008 were $659,920.51 as compared to $391,757.21 in 2010.

Debt is also a problem for WHOA. The largest debt is owed to Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and is currently $26,296. This debt is for the use of the Miller Coliseum for events. The WHOA offices are in Miller Coliseum but are given to WHOA from MTSU rent free. “In my opinion Mr. Miller is turning over in his grave at the thought that WHOA has had to pay one dime to MTSU for the use of this facility,” said Budget Chairman Frank Neal. He continued, “I urge all of you as directors to write letters to the president of the university and speak to the abuse of WHOA (from MTSU) by charging us to use this facility. I would like to try and get the $26,000 removed and no future payments to use this facility.”

Tommy Hall pointed out that WHOA has paid $358,000 to MTSU in the eight years that the Miller Coliseum has been built. Virginia Stewart asked if Mr. Miller left any legal document where he expressed his intentions that WHOA not be charged for the facility. Bennett answered that he had not yet found any documentation but that a member of a bank board with ties to Miller did tell him that it was Miller’s intent to give the facility’s use to WHOA.

Because the debts are not listed on the balance sheets given to the board of directors, Vaughn asked if the financials of WHOA were audited to which Hall replied they were by Wilson & Dempsey. Vaughn then asked, “Are we going to budget anything to service this debt?” Neal replied that they were not going to budget any set amount to service the debt but would find other ways to pay the debt. “We don’t have the luxury of set monthly income and are currently at a big loss as to what our income will be,” said Neal.

The second largest debt owed by WHOA (outside of the loan from Pinnacle Bank) is to the SHOW HIO in the amount of $10,336. Stewart commented, “I didn’t even know we owed SHOW until I read their press release stating that WHOA owed them. It is an embarrassment as board members that we didn’t even know that we owed them this money.”

Hall replied, “They just sent me the amount that we owed at the end of November, other than the debt associated with the International. When we left $71,000 from the NHSC in seed money for SHOW to start, I think it is a slap in the face for them to put that in a press release. And then they took our amateur cards and me personally I just think it is time for WHOA to be looking to go in another direction.”

After Hall was finished with his comments regarding the debt to SHOW, many members in attendance applauded the idea of moving in a different direction. The total debt owed by WHOA totals $62,740.54 of which currently only the amount due Pinnacle Bank is being serviced on a monthly basis.

As part of the budget report Neal addressed the overall condition of WHOA as well. “We have sold out our banquet tonight with 353 tickets sold and this ought to tell everyone something and tell the industry something. This is our biggest turnout ever. In garnering that much interest it may be time for the owners’ organization to revert back to what its founders intended and how it became so important in the industry.”

Zeis addressed the need for new horse show development as part of her committee report. “We have a new program with Southern States as part of FAST where all the monies raised will go to horse show development in those states where the monies come from. We are trying to go outside our own pockets to raise money for horse show development,” said Zeis. The Southern States program is a proof of purchase rebate program on horse feed.

Zeis continued, “We need new horse shows to grow our industry but it needs to be fair and equitable. We all need to get our minds together to have horse show development be a collective effort. Without it we are hurting our industry. I just want to see us working together because we have a great horse and we just need to get the people and politics out of it,” concluded Zeis.

In his membership committee report, Herschel Blessing addressed the need for unity and how the division in the industry had cost WHOA its membership. “Until we get unified in this industry we are all going to continue this decline. The owners have to know more of what is going on. The old people in this industry are getting tired and the young ones don’t care,” said Blessing.

Before remarks from the membership in attendance started, Hall spoke to the need for horse shows and that without horse shows there won’t be horses in training. He also spoke to the rumors of the International moving to Shelbyville. “Mrs. Miller’s foot is out of the grave at the thought we would ever consider moving the International to Shelbyville,” said Hall. He continued, “We have been blasted lately but the blast has helped as I have received calls and emails of support for WHOA.”

Hall also presented the 2010 show report from WHOA. In 2010 WHOA had 60 shows of which 37 were affiliated with SHOW, 9 with International, four with PRIDE, four with NWHA, two with Kentucky, one with Heart of America, one with WHOA and two which were unaffiliated. In those 60 shows, there were 2,245 horses making up 7,335 entries. The 37 shows with SHOW produced 4,999 entries and the 9 horse shows with International had 1,022 entries. These 46 shows produced 82% of the entries. The 9 shows with International were also part of the Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund.

Serving alongside President Bennett in 2011 will be Vice President Don Hancock, Treasurer Richard Greer and Secretary Deborah Williams.

In looking to 2011, Bennett pointed out the top three items that the survey of the membership told them where WHOA should focus. First was financial stability, second was to continue to promote and sponsor horse shows and third was to represent the owners. “On our board we have 719 years of walking horse experience so we know a little about what we’re talking about,” said Bennett.

Stephen Brown may have summed it up best considering what was reported to have happened in the board of directors meeting. “WHOA needs to look to the future and quit whining about the past. WHOA took the high road and promoted the pleasure and versatility. It’s time to activate the HIO and get a small group of judges and do your 60 shows.”


I absolutely agree with Brown, that whining about the past is ridiculous. I'm glad to see WHOA take this stance.

I also agree with Blessing, that the industry needs to unify. It will fall apart if SHOW and other HIOs continue to fight the USDA. They are digging their own grave, and it's wise of WHOA to not be involved with that stance anymore.

Zeis and Vaughan: SHAME ON YOU. Shame on you for not supporting your group in their decision. Do you realize that your leaving also is a public admission of guilt? The way I see it is that those who still want to support soring are the ones who are against the new USDA mandatory penalties. Sure, give me lip service all you want: we want all our horses to be sound. NO YOU DON'T. You have not proven that to us because there are still a large portion of sore horses out there. And those of you who aren't supporting WHOA's choice are ones that communicate a need to keep things as status quo.

Zeis, you want the people and politics out of it? Good luck. Horse associations across the country in all breeds and disciplines have politics. And leaving isn't going to fix that problem--you are only encouraging it by showing your political view by avoiding obeying the law and leaving WHOA because they will be doing so.

SHOW: SHAME ON YOU as well, for treating WHOA this way. It is not fair to suddenly dump debt on them that they didn't know about, or perhaps that they didn't realize was so big. Do you realize you are now even more the bullies than you were viewed as before? Now you are attacking your own ilk...what kind of message are you trying to send?

Overall, I see this as a major step towards seeing much less sore horses at WHOA shows. I hope that WHOA becomes as clean an HIO as the International/HPC, NWHA and FOSH. WHOA, you have my thanks!

Monday, February 14, 2011

ARTICLE - Concerns With SHOW's Attitude per the WHR's Interview with SHOW President

Below is the Walking Horse Report's interview with the president of SHOW, Steve Mullins. I have some concerns with SHOW's attitude after reading this interview, so I have comments after the below text.


WHR Interviews SHOW President Dr. Steve Mullins

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

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 reigns 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.


Okay, my major concern is that SHOW thinks it can still keep things business as usual if it is decertified and then appeals it. They say they can still hold shows and affiliate with shows. I call bullshit on this one. I sent a letter to the USDA about this because I want them to know what these idiots are thinking. First, I would imagine that they can't do anything after they're decertified. I mean, if a murderer is convicted but he appeals his case, does he get to leave jail and go galavanting around, doing as he wishes? No. So I hope that the same is the case in this situation.

I agree with all of the SHOW members that the affiliation fee is outrageous. I was told by a friend who has another friend who shows with SHOW that she will not be showing with them anymore because she doesn't want to pay the fee to support their attorneys to continue this ridiculous fight. And really, I figure that's what these fees are for. SHOW probably is losing money hand over fist because they're paying so much in attorney fees, and they are looking for ways to force the industry to pay for it. But attorneys aside, in this economy, if SHOW wants to continue to have support then charging those kinds of fees is really shooting themselves in the foot.

I find it laughable that SHOW says they are nothing like the NHSC. Well, since the majority of your board and most of your judges and DQPs were former NHSC board members, judges and DQPs, and since you still allow sore horse in the ring, you absolutely ARE still the NHSC. Just because the NHSC had lower numbers in 2009 does not mean that SHOW is different. I imagine that that particular situation was because of our current economy. All horse breeds are seeing a reduction in entries across the board because of financial reasons.

I have also found further proof that the SHOW is still allowing sore horses at their venues. I have a friend who attended a big TWH sale in KY last weekend. Here was her report.

SHOW actually turned down one of The Spotlight Sale horses named Cash Lined. He must have been REALLY bad to get turned down at a sale, they let everything go through and if it is bad they have the announcer tell the details of the vet check. I have gone over horses there, rode them, ect - found scars - and the announcer did not say it when the horse sold. So, I know it has to be severe for them to mention it and it has to be incredibly severe for them to turn a horse down. I tried to video the SHOW inspection and it was really hard. They had them in a darker corner and it was all roped off. You can't get in there except to cross over to get from one barn to the next. I stopped in the middle and they had me leave. But, I think that is to make sure nobody tries anything sneaky after the horse has passed. So, I was kinda glad they saw me there and asked me to step out of the inspection area.

The DQPs were right--they are not supposed to allow other people around while they're inspecting. That's been a major issue with the USDA--allowing too many people in the inspection area.

However, let's note that they're certainly still allowing sore horses in the ring. She also told me that some of the horses were so sore they could hardly walk down the barn aisle to the ring. The USDA's back was turned, so it's business as usual for SHOW.

So, be sure to send your letters to the USDA. It's obvious that SHOW is not going to comply, and therefore we need to see them decertified and for them not to be allowed to continue holding shows and affiliating with shows. SHOW needs to learn a very severe lesson here, and the USDA can teach that lesson very effectively!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

NEWS and ARTICLES - Major Changes Are Afoot!

First we have these posts from the Walking Horse Report. My comments are in green text.


Butt Resigns As Executive Director of TWHBEA

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stan Butt, Executive Director of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' & Exhibitors' Association (TWHBEA) has resigned his post effectively immediately. The resignation came in a release from TWHBEA at 4:00PM today, February 10, 2011.

Butt simply stated that circumstances in the industry dictated he take another path. Butt also expressed his willingness to help in any transition.


TWHBEA To Hire Ron Thomas

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Walking Horse Report has learned from sources close to the situation that Ron Thomas will be announced as the new Executive Director of TWHBEA as early as tomorrow, February 11, 2011. Thomas has previously served as CEO of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

When contacted, TWHBEA had no official comment on the matter but did say an announcement on the new Executive Director would be coming soon.


Now as far as I understand, Butt was actually wanting to see horses go sound. I have friends who are members of TWHBEA who received his letter, citing differences in opinions. Maybe he left because TWHBEA is refusing to make changes to help the industry and wants to continue with business as usual...? Ah to be a fly on the wall at that meeting!

I also went on the HPAdata website and Thomas has no violations listed there. No I'm not quite sure what direction TWHBEA is considering going.

Now THIS is amazing...


WHOA Activates HIO; Will Accept Mandatory Penalties

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Walking Horse Report has learned from sources close to WHOA that in the annual WHOA Board of Directors meeting, which was held in executive session, the board voted to activate its HIO and accept the mandatory penalties.

It was not a unanimous vote but a majority of the board members voted in favor of the motion.


It was promptly followed by this...


Zeis and Vaughn Resign From WHOA Board

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kathy Zeis and Bruce Vaughn have both resigned from the Walking Horse Owners' Association Board of Directors. Zeis and Vaughn both informed Walking Horse Report of their decisions and released the following resignation email sent to President Kim Bennett.

Dear Kim,

With regret, Bruce and I feel that we must resign from the WHOA Board of Directors. Today's events make it difficult for us to continue to serve on the WHOA board.

We feel that as members of the FAST board of directors we must maintain a neutral position on the political situation that has arisen and remain dedicated to the promotion, protection and preservation of all kinds of show horses and horse shows for the Tennessee Walking Horse.

We wish you great success in your Horse Show Development endeavors. If we can be of assistance in the future please feel free to contact us.


Bruce Vaughn and Kathy Zeis


Of course, Vaughn and Zeis are both violators: Vaughn with two and Zeis with one.

Folks, be sure to send letters to WHOA thanking them for their choice. This is amazing news. Whether or not they are having a change of heart, choosing to accept the penalty structure shows us that they understand things have gotten out of hand and that they seem to be willing to work with the government and with the law. Here is WHOA's website: http://www.walkinghorseowners.com/ Don't just use the Contact Us link--also write directly to the email addresses for the board members and officers.

Let's hope we hear more about these kinds of positive changes for the horse in the near future.

Monday, February 7, 2011

NEWS - SHOW to Host Farrier Clinic in March

From the Walking Horse Report...

SHOW To Host Farrier Clinic
Thursday, January 27, 2011

SHELBYVILLE, – The SHOW HIO will host a farrier clinic on March 12, 2011 at the Blue Ribbon room on the show grounds of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn. The “For the Horse Farrier Seminar” will include guest speakers Dr. Tracey Turner, private practitioner and USDA consultant, and Dr. Vern Dryden, equine veterinarian and farrier at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky.

The seminar will include a review of data collected by Dr. Turner relative to hoof health in 2010 as well as a review of the trends in that data. Dr. Turner will analyze what is better in the Tennessee Walking Horse in 2010 compared to previous years.

The seminar will also focus on the areas that still need to be addressed relative to hoof health such as thin front hoof walls, no heel growth and compressed or sheared heels. Another topic, which is very important in the industry today, is how trimming a hoof can help or hurt compliance with the Horse Protection Act. Dr. Turner and Dr. Dryden will address this issue as well as ways a farrier can help insure hoof health. They will also look at ways to correct issues still facing the hoof of the Tennessee Walking Horse.

In the afternoon, Dr. Turner and Dr. Dryden will actually work on some problem hooves which will be done via closed circuit so everyone will be able to view and ask questions. Any owner, trainer or farrier is welcome to attend.


This sounds like it's going to be a nice clinic. Seriously, I think that if both doctors aren't being paid to lie, then it should be extremely educational and shed some light on the care of horse's hooves that the TWH industry seems to choose to be oblivious to.

My major issues with this event are the following.

First, they are going to talk about how the hoof of 2010 is better than it used to be. Um, what? From the angles that the horses' hooves are being filed to 20 to 30 years ago to now, we are seeing more extreme angles and more pressure shoeing to force the gait since chemical soring is so obvious now. 20 to 30 years ago it was the chemicals that were prominent; now it's the pressure shoeing that's popular.

Second, I believe this is yet again another attempt by SHOW to make it look like they're making changes. I was told by a source who attended the latest big sale in KY that SHOW was allowing sore horses into the sale ring by the dozens. Some horses were so obviously sore they could hardly walk. This source also went to look at horses after they'd been in the sale ring, and they had obvious scars that they never should have been allowed into the ring with. So, I have to say that the hypocrites at SHOW are merely at it again to cover up the fact that they're keeping everything the same.

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