"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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

NEWS and ARTICLES - Waterfall Farms Owners Suspended for One Year

Way to go USDA! The owners of Waterfall Farms, Bill and Sandra Johnson, have been suspended for one year in reference to allowing JFK All Over to be shown in 2000 by Tim Gray of Sand Creek Farms. Click here for the article from the Shelbyville Times-Gazette. The text is included below after my comments.

I have friends who are of completely separate sources who do not know each other who have visited Waterfall Farms in the past eight years or so. They said that the horses there are horribly sore, and they have witnessed abuse going on there as if there's nothing wrong at all. One man was so horrified he went outside around the barn and vomited.

I have also heard that Waterfall Farms has been cleaning up its act. But according to the USDA documents, " 'Waterfall Farms and the Johnsons each were fined $6,600.00 in February 2009 for entering and showing sored Tennessee Walking Horse Champion 'John FK's Pusher' in the 33rd Annual National Walking Horse Trainers Show, but not suspended from competing," the press release said. The Johnsons were, however, ordered to 'cease and desist from violating the Act' " (Mosley, 2011 - see the below text for the full article). So it's hard to believe when this kind of stuff is still going on.

Tim Gray has been in my blog before, but unfortunately I can't find the post where I talked about him. However, I will point out that Gray has four recent violations of the HPA, as follows:

2004 - two week suspension
2005 - four month suspension
Oct 2005 through Oct 2007 - two year suspension
April 2005 through April 2007 - two year suspension

So Mr. Gray certainly is not a trainer I'd be sending my horses to with that track record.

Overall, I am extremely happy to see such a prominent farm as Waterfall get caught AND get fined. The USDA is being very serious about this. And for those of you who may argue that they were the owners, they probably didn't know about it, they shouldn't be punished, that is absolutely wrong. If you get caught speeding and you thought the speed limit was 45 but it was actually 30, ignorance of the law is no excuse. With soring being such a prominent form of training horses in this industry, the Johnsons certainly knew their horses could be in danger of being sored. It may have been the chance they took and now they're paying for it.


Waterfall owners suspended over alleged violations

Thursday, March 31, 2011
By BRIAN MOSELY ~ bmosely@t-g.com

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has fined and suspended the owners of Waterfall Farms in Shelbyville for one year from any horse show or event in connection with alleged violations of the Horse Protection Act more than 10 years ago.

William B. (Bill) Johnson and Sandra Johnson of Atlanta, known nationwide as breeders of champion Tennessee Walking Horses, were suspended for a year beginning on Jan. 21, 2011 and were each ordered to pay a $1,000 fine in proceedings instituted under the Horse Protection Act last month, according to a press release from the Int'l Fund for Horses.

The suspension is related to the showing of Tennessee Walking Horse champion JFK All Over at the 30th Annual Spring Fun Show in Shelbyville in May 2000.

The Horse Protection Act is a Federal law that prohibits horses subjected to a practice called "soring" from participating in shows, sales, exhibitions, or auctions.

"Soring" is the illegal practice of deliberately causing pain on the front legs or feet of a horse to create an exaggerated, high-stepping gait.

However, the word "soring" does not appear in any of the USDA documents related to the Johnsons' case.

According to documents filed last month before the Secretary of Agriculture, the Johnsons admit the "jurisdictional allegations" in the complaint and "specifically admit that the Secretary has jurisdiction in this matter," but "neither admit or deny the remaining allegations."

The Johnsons waived their right to an oral hearing and further procedure and consented and agreed to the entry of the decision, the documents stated.

The one-year disqualification means that the Johnsons are barred from showing, exhibiting or entering any horse "directly or indirectly through any agent, employee, family member, corporation or other device ..."

They are also forbidden from judging, managing or otherwise participating in any horse exhibition, sale or auction, either directly or indirectly.

A footnote in the order defines "participating" as engaging in any activity "beyond that of a spectator," meaning the Johnsons can not transport or arrange to transport horses to or from equine events, give instructions to exhibitors, be present in the warm-up or inspection areas or any other area where spectators are not allowed.

The Johnsons are also barred from "financing the participation of others in equine events."

The USDA document, signed on Feb. 2 of this year, only states that on or about May 27, 2000, the Johnsons allowed Sand Creek Farms, Inc and Tim Gray to enter JFK All Over in the 30th Annual Spring Fun Show as entry number 252 in class number 34.

"Bill and Sandra Johnson are a major influence in the Tennessee Walking Horse community in both breeding and showing," Vivian Grant, president of the Int'l Fund for Horses, said in a press release.

"The penalty and suspension issued against the Johnsons by the USDA is particularly significant, and sends a clear message that soring will be punished, no matter what your stature," she added.

The Int'l Fund for Horses also noted that this enforcement against the Johnsons is not the first.

"Waterfall Farms and the Johnsons each were fined $6,600.00 in February 2009 for entering and showing sored Tennessee Walking Horse Champion "John FK's Pusher" in the 33rd Annual National Walking Horse Trainers Show, but not suspended from competing," the press release said. The Johnsons were, however, ordered to "cease and desist from violating the Act."

That alleged incident occurred in January 2000 when the Johnsons retained Sand Creek Farms to train John FK's Pusher. On or about March 24, 2001, The Johnsons allowed Sand Creek Farms and Billy A. Gray to show the horse at the Trainers Show as entry 491 in class number 76.

However, the USDA documents concerning the 2009 matter with the Johnsons also does not mention "soring" either.

The proceedings against the Johnsons were instituted following a complaint filed by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Agency (APHIS).

"APHIS' ultimate goal in enforcing the Horse Protection Act is to eliminate soring," stated Dave Sacks, spokesman for the agency. "We will continue to work with the horse industry to protect against this inhumane practice and thereby ensure that only sound and healthy horses participate in shows, exhibits and sales."

According to Waterfall Farms' web site, they have 18 stallions that account for at least 182 world class champion Tennessee Walking Horse titles.

The web site of the Int'l Fund for Horses says it "is the single most influential lobbying and watchdog organization dedicated to equine welfare."

"Founded in 2003, the Int'l Fund for Horses works for the protection of horses through intervention, education and legislation," the web site states.

NEWS - Trial Date Set for SSHBEA HPA Violators

Click here for the article from thehorse.com. If you're not a member of thehorse.com, then the article might not come up. Below is the text from the article.

I also believe that SSHBEA needs to be punished as well. They allowed these guys to show without checking the paperwork correctly. They also allowed someone with a lifetime suspension to be there on the grounds and helping with show horses. While I have worked in a show office and I understand things can get very busy, the fact remains that SSHBEA did not do their homework and pay attention to the HPA violations information.


Trial Date Set in Tennessee 'Soring' Case
by: Pat Raia
March 29 2011, Article # 18015

Last week a federal court judge in Tennessee, U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Mitchell Carter, set May 31 as the trial date for a Spotted Saddle Horse trainer and two other individuals accused of violating the Horse Protection Act (HPA). The act prohibits "soring," the deliberate injury of a horse's feet and legs to achieve a high-stepping gait.

Earlier this month a federal Grand Jury in Tennessee returned an indictment accusing Spotted Saddle Horse trainer Barney Davis, along with Christen Altman and Jeffery Bradford, of conspiring to violate the HPA by soring horses and falsifying forms and other paperwork required to exhibit animals.

According to the indictment, Davis allegedly placed bolts in horses' feet, taped blocks to horses' feet, and applied other soring techniques to horses prior to competition. The indictment also alleges that Davis would remove external devices prior to pre-performance HPA compliance inspections and inject horses with pain-reducing drugs to limit the animals' reactions to inspection procedures.

The indictment further alleges that Davis and Altman used others as nominee trainers to obtain trainers' licenses and that Davis, Altman, and Bradford falsified horse show entry forms and other documents claiming that Bradford and others were trainers of horses actually trained byDavis.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Neff said Carter also ordered Davis to cease training or having contact with horses owned by others while the case is pending. Altman also was ordered to avoid contact with horses owned by others. Bradford was prohibited from having contact with horses located at Davis' farm.

Davis' attorney John Norton was unavailable for comment.

Monday, March 28, 2011

NEWS - WHOA Appoints New Board Members, Introduction of the UHDP to Encourage Breaking the Law, and TWHBEA OEI VP Letter

First, I have an important opinion piece included in this post below related to this subject. I want to point it out now to make sure that everyone takes the time to read it. I believe it really explains exactly what we all need to be aware of with how this industry is continuing to corrupt itself from the inside out.

Second, I decided to talk about both of these events in the same post because they're somewhat related. WHOA has appointed new board members. Below is the article about it from the Walking Horse Report.


WHOA Appoints Board Members

Thursday, March 24, 2011

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Walking Horse Owners' Association Board of Directors met on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum. The WHOA Nominating Committee recommended six candidates to fill seats on the WHOA Board Of Directors. The following new members were appointed unanimously:

Dr. Jana Anderson, Shelbyville, TN
Tam Brogdon, Panama City, FL
Stephen Brown, Vancouver, WA
Dee Dee Sale, Lewisburg, TN
Beth Sims, Shelbyville, TN,
David Williams, Shelbyville, TN

Martha Child, Nashville, TN was also appointed Secretary at this meeting.

For more information on WHOA go to www.walkinghorseowners.com


I am glad to say that NONE of the above appointed individuals have violations listed on the HPA database website.

Next is the announcement of the horse show development group known as the Unified Horse Show Development Program (UHDP). Below is the article from the Walking Horse Report. I included any violations listed on the HPA database in brackets.


Unified Horse Show Development Program Launched
Thursday, March 24, 2011

A group of concerned owners has formed the Unified Horse Show Development Program (UHDP) which will seek to assist new horse show development as well as help existing shows that need financial aid. The group will also seek to revitalize previous Walking Horse venues and help with walking horse events across the nation.

The UHDP will focus its aid to horse shows outside of the states of Tennessee and Kentucky and horse events and shows will have to apply to the UHDP for financial aid. A group of owners have initiated a challenge fund whereby they will match up to $25,000 of monies raised by UHDP. All monies will be donated to FAST, a 501 (c)3 organization, making the contributions tax deductible.

Deborah Williams [possibly 2 violations as Mark and Debbie, 2002 through 2003], Dee Cantrell [2006], Kathy Zeis [2005], Marty Irby [2002], Margo Urad [2003], Tracy Boyd and Mike Inman [2001 & 2002] are the members of the UHDP. The UHDP will not be associated with any specific HIO and will encourage horse show development with any HIO that has not accepted the mandatory penalties from the USDA.

The program will also include a mentoring program, chaired by Vickie Penick [3 different variations of Vickie Penick listed; for "Vickie Penick" 2007]. The program will offer mentoring services to groups that need help with organizing their shows and putting together events.

The challenge fund will begin immediately and run through June 15, 2011. At that time the matching funds up to $25,000 will be donated to the fund and the horse show development aid will begin. A list of criteria will be available soon for horse show management to download and apply to the UHDP.

Applications for aid will be reviewed by a committee consisting of Diana McMurtry [1 year suspension 1991-1992], Inman, Williams and Cantrell and funds will be allocated by this group based upon horse shows and events abilities to meet the criteria and geographic location.

The following members of the mentoring program are available to assist anyone needing help with their horse show. If you would like to become a mentor, please email info@FASTWalkingShowHorse.org or contact Vickie Penick directly.


Tracy Boyd-Tennessee - tboyd319@yahoo.com
Stephen Brown-Oregon - brostephen@gmail.com
Dee Cantrell-Alabama - birddogs@bellsouth.net
Jo Anne Dempsey-Mississippi - jadempsey@ms.metrocast.net [2006 through 2007]
Sandy Harris-Tennessee - sandyharris55@gmail.com
Beverly Kirk-Georgia - bxamerica@aol.com [2003 with Jack Kirk]
Diana McMurtry-Florida - dmcmurt349@aol.com
Joyce Moyer-Ohio - joycemoyer@thewayz.com
Vickie Penick-South Carolina (Chairperson) - vspenick@lowcountry.com
Margo Urad-Texas - murad@kandins.com
Bruce Vaughn-Ohio - blvaughn@zoominternet.net
Kathy Zeis-Georgia - redladytwh@mindspring.com
Karen Inman - kandminman@gmail.com

More information on how to receive the applications and the list of criteria will be available soon.


See anything familiar? Bruce Vaughn, Kathy Zeis, and Deborah Williams are all board members who walked out on WHOA when WHOA accepted the mandatory penalties from the USDA! So they are going to help start a new group in the playground so they can keep things status quo for the industry.

Let's also note this direct quote:

"The UHDP will not be associated with any specific HIO and will encourage horse show development with any HIO that has not accepted the mandatory penalties from the USDA."

Yes, let's PLEASE get a group together who will encourage breaking the law! Let's encourage those groups who continue to want to violate the HPA to keep those sore horses in the ring, by God--let's keep the tradition of the sore horse alive!

It's amazing to me, this blatant disregard for the law AND they are publicly announcing it! It's like calling up your local newspaper and saying that you are going to start a KKK chapter in your local city so you can keep the spirit of slavery and racism alive. I am absolutely aghast at the flat out balls this group has. USDA, WHERE ARE YOU? Oh wait, you're back in Washington, NOT doing your job to end soring. I forgot about that.

I haven't talked about FAST in any of my posts. FAST is the Foundation for the Advancement and Support of the Tennessee Walking Show Horse, Inc. They were started in 2009, and basically they are merely a 501(c)(3) that people can donate to so they can funnel money directly to SHOW to put on more sore horse shows. Click here for the FAST 2009 Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. Now you too can help support the sore horse industry, and it'll be tax deductible!

Now here's something REALLY amazing. The TWHBEA Owners/Exhibitors/International VP Stephen Brown, who volunteered to help the UHDP has withdrawn from the UHDP. His reasons are included below as a Letter to the Editor of the Walking Horse Report.


Letter to the Editor:

I have read with interest the online Walking Horse Report press release about the United Horse Show Development Program. The information in this article, especially, "the UHDP ... will encourage horse show development with any HIO that has not accepted the mandatory penalties from the USDA", was NOT presented at our TWHBEA E/C meeting. Neither was the name shared. This was referred to as an attempt to develop horse shows, not an attempt to further divide our ailing industry while using rhetoric like 'unity' and 'unified'. I will NOT serve as a volunteer for such an organization and regret being misled. I will be sure to ask many clarifying questions in the future. I am a supporter/fan/promoter of the fabulous Tennessee Walking Horse in every way and am absolutely in favor of complaint horses being shown in every division (although I can't keep up with the scar rule part of the equation).

The Western International HIO began using the current penalty structure last year when it was first recommended by the USDA and we had a wonderful show season with very few issues.

Let's all work to promote this great breed.


Stephen Brown,


THANK YOU, Mr. Brown, for having the integrity to stand up to these jerks. I'm glad you pointed out they were unscrupulous in their dealings with TWHBEA. That's a big deal in an industry that continues to make ridiculous decisions.

The following is an opinion piece written by a friend of mine. This person sent it to me via email. They were commenting on the above announcement of the UHDP and Mr. Brown's stance against them. This person basically hit the nail on the head for me. They basically wrote everything that I believe that is going on right now and then some. I got permission to share this with you so you can also understand the true issues that are going on in this industry. I made changes only for the sake of clarity and to fix grammar--otherwise this piece is "as is."


[Regarding Stephen Brown,] at least there is one person with some sense of integrity serving TWHBEA. First, they [the industry] really believe that people in this industry are dumb enough not to see right through this - how insulting. Second, the only people who are against the mandated penalties are those who are knowingly violating the HPA. Those who train sound have nothing to fear from the mandated penalties as evidenced by shows across the country who have implemented them or have even more strict penalties in place. Third, why is the THWBEA President, Senior VP, Marketing VP and Breeders VP helping raise money for FAST and then excluding the majority of their members? As FAST 990 indicates, FAST is nothing more than a money funnel for SHOW under the guise of a 501(c)3 . Does Celebration/SHOW/FAST/WHTA, Inc.now control the TWHBEA?

Not only is the inclusion of the President, Senior VP, Marketing VP and Breeders VP of TWHBEA into this little fund raising group a serious conflict of interest on any and all levels, it puts out the message that the Breed Registry and its members support this "group's" desire to encourage horse show development with only those HIOs, Associations, Show Managers, owners and trainers who are AGAINST the mandated penalties. It is unbelievable, beyond the pail. I'm not sure it is legal for a 501(c)3 to exclude an entire segment of the industry of which it's mission statement says it represents. Every member of TWHBEA (individual or association) who supports the mandated penalties, humane treatment of the horse, and the preservation of the breed, SHOULD BE OUTRAGED. FOSH, NWHA and the Presidents of all those association here and abroad should be sending letters to the editor of the WHR, Scoop and letters to the entire EC and the BOD. The Registry is now a full participant in Celebration/SHOW/FAST/WHTA, Inc.'s desire to maintain this status quo scam.

From TWHBEA's website: "The success and popularity of the Tennessee Walking Horse is the result of thoughtful organization and strong leadership by the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association, and it is the essential organization for the continued success of the breed."

In light of the press release and ramifications of the TWHBEA Executive Committees involvement, the above statement is contemptible.

History is repeating itself. The well-heeled good ol' boy network and their minions are effectively taking over the industry. [I read what someone said on an online chat board that] "If a HIO accepted the mandatory penalties, they took themselves out of unification in the industry." There you have it. And TWHBEA apparently supports this stance. This industry is neck deep in corruption. The Mexican drug cartels could learn a thing or two from this bunch about political spin and propaganda. If they hired this bunch, they would have the rest of the world convinced they only sold Tylenol and used water guns.

I know FOSH, HSUS and others speak out about the cruelty, why not the corruption? One feeds the other!


I think the last line is the most important: that cruelty fuels corruption, and vice versa. People who are quick to abuse animals are quick to abuse other people, and it doesn't stop there. Now the industry has been allowed by the USDA to continue to abuse the system in place to stop soring, and they are abusing their privilege to be showing horses by blatantly violating the law. This is something we all need to be aware of and that we need to understand as to why the abuse won't stop from within. It has GOT to come from the outside, and the USDA needs to do it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

NEWS - Fugly Horse of the Day Picks Ups the Indictment Story

Fugly Horse of the Day has picked up the story about the three owners/trainers who are currently indicted for soring. The word is spreading! Read more here:

America's Dumbest Criminals Are Showing TWHs

NEWS and ARTICLES - SHOW Releases Trainer's Show Violation Results and My Letter to the USDA

Below are the results of the Trainer's Show over the weekend as posted on the Walking Horse Report. Below that is my letter to the USDA this morning. Since it sums up all of my feelings about this I won't put in any additional comments. Please send in your letters to the USDA as well if you are also as unhappy as I am.


SHOW Releases 2011 National Trainers’ Show Inspection Results
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - The SHOW HIO has tabulated the final inspection results from the 2011 National Trainers’ Show held last weekend, March 17-19, at the Calsonic Arena. The SHOW DQPs present at the show were Tony Edwards, DQP Coordinator, John Paul Riner and Bill Coleman. The USDA was also present at the National Trainers’ Show with a team of two VMOs.

In total 442 entries were presented for inspection in the three nights. A total of 35 pre-show violations were written. The breakdown of those 35 violations is the following:

Bilateral Sensitivity – 6

Unilateral Sensitivity – 22

Scar Rule – 1

Bad Image – 1

Foreign Substance – 4

High Band – 1

During the show, the USDA checked all second and third places horses after the show and SHOW checked each first place entry. The breakdowns of the 13 post show violations were:

Scar Rule – 6

High Band – 2

Illegal Shoeing – 1

Open Lesion – 1

Illegal Chain – 3

In addition to the above 48 HPA violations, four horses were excused pre-show for unacceptable, which is not an HPA violation. “Overall we were very pleased with the inspection process and the success of the National Trainers’ Show,” said President Dr. Stephen L. Mullins. He continued, “We were pleased with our working relationship with the USDA VMOs as well as the effort the trainers put forth to bring compliant horses to the inspection station. The number of entries at the Trainers’ Show speaks volumes to the efforts of our trainers, the staff at SHOW and our consistent and fair inspections by our DQPs.”


Letter to the USDA, March 23, 2010
Tennessee Walking Horse Trainer's Show Results

I wanted to write this morning to say that I received the information about the results of the violations at the Trainer's show over this past weekend. They were posted on the Walking Horse Report today.

First, I am very disappointed that the USDA still has not acted on its promise to decertify any HIO that has not implemented the new penalty structure. If you had done so, then perhaps you would not have had to spend the money to go to this show as it may not have been held. And as such, those who did violate the HPA at this show will now not receive the maximum penalties possible and actually start ending this problem with this show.

Second, I understand that the USDA's VMOs were at the show and inspected horses. I watched parts of the Trainer's show online and was absolutely sickened by the look of these horses in the ring. I imagine that it was because there is no rule yet to pull shoes after the classes to look for pressure shoeing. It was quite obvious that this is what most of these horses were suffering from. I have been told by people who are in the industry that there is absolutely no way the horses could look the way they did without having been sored in some way.

This has gotten out of hand. It is clear to me that SHOW was on their best behavior because you were present. It is also clear that they are wanting to show how many people they can catch so you won't decertify them; or perhaps more accurately, show how many people are willing to take the fall for others--I'm sure none of the violators were major trainers in the business. And it is further clear that they are releasing their violations so quickly after the show to basically puff out their chests and gloat--never have they released their violations so quickly before.

And let's point out the obvious: that there were sore horses at the show. This law has been in effect for nearly 40 years, and horses are still being sored. This is a fairly easy issue to fix, yet the USDA still won't do it.

We know these horses are being sored behind your backs. You were not present at the Tattersall's sale in Kentucky in February. I was told by people who attended the sale that some of the horses were so sore they couldn't even walk, and that evidence of soring was everywhere.

Why are you continuing to allow this to go on? What is so wrong with shutting down these HIOs and ending this ridiculous farce? Why will the USDA not take action and take away the tools being used to sore horses, specifically the pads, bands, and chains? Why won't the USDA use their ability to enforce the HPA by any means necessary as it is written in the HPA itself? And why won't you answer these questions?

I know I am deeply frustrated by this continued dance the USDA plays with the industry. The horses and the industry continue to suffer as the USDA stands by and allows it to happen. You have the power to end this, but you are just as guilty in continuing to allow the abuse to go on. It is very difficult to stand behind you when you continue to allow the industry to walk all over you.

I and I'm sure the sound horse supporters are begging you to stop this nonsense. The industry does not care and will not fix itself--you have to do it. I am ashamed of our elected government that it has not been done so far, but I hold out hope that perhaps one day this government will do something right and will stop this forever.

Friday, March 18, 2011

NEWS - A Federal Grand Jury Indicts Three for Violating the HPA

A Federal indictment! Now that's what I'm taking about! THANK YOU OIG!

Below is the article from Channel News 9 website of Chattanooga, TN. Click here for the article. My comments are below the article.


Three Indicted in Chattanooga for ''Soring'' Horses

March 18, 2011 4:53 PM

A federal grand jury in Chattanooga returned a four count indictment against Barney Davis, 38, of Lewisburg, Tenn., Christen Altman, 25, of Shelbyville, Tenn., and Jeffery Bradford, 33, of Lewisburg, Tenn., charging them with violations of the federal Horse Protection Act.

According to the indictment, Davis, Altman and Bradford conspired to violate the federal Horse Protection Act by “soring” horses and falsifying entry forms and other related paperwork.

“Soring” is a unlawful practice where items like bolts are driven into horse’s hoofs (usually Walking Horses). In some cases foreign objects are attached to the legs of the animals, or chemicals are used to produce pain and sensitivity to alter the gait of a horse. The altered gait is valued at horse competitions.

Additional allegations are outlined in THIS INDICTMENT.

United States Attorney Bill Killian said, “the alleged violations in this indictment undermine the equine industry and give unfair advantage to some over others, in addition to causing cruelty to the animals. We will always pursue cases involving the falsification of federal records.”

The investigation leading to this indictment was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG). The USDA-OIG has the authority to investigate criminal violations of the Horse Protection Act including allegations related to soring and false entries or statements. The OIG investigation of this case was initiated in August 2010. Special Agent-in-Charge, Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Southeast Region, stated, " The USDA- OIG will continue to aggressively pursue violations of the Horse Protection Act in order to protect horses and competitors from illegal and unfair acts and practices."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Neff will prosecute the case on behalf of the United States.


Be sure to read the indictment--it's great what the OIG uncovered! There are four counts that have tons of information on what these people did. I included a short version of what was uncovered below. They not only sored horses, but they falsified papers as to who was actually training the horses. The used bolts inserted into the horses' feet and taped blocks the horses' feet to induce soring.

Here's the kicker: Davis received a LIFETIME BAN from SHOW and was STILL SHOWING! So really, not only is Davis guilty, but the SSHBEA is as well for allowing him to show!

Send your letters to the USDA and OIG for indicting these people. Also, send letters to the SSHBEA telling them to better monitor those who have violated the HPA at their shows.

It is wonderful to see this kind of action against these abusers. Thank you, Ms. Citizen-Wilcox, and the entire USDA for your hard work!


The Short List of Indictments against Barney Davis, Christen Altman, and Jeffery Bradford

Overt Acts - all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371

1. Beginning in 2002 and continuing through 2010, Davis instructed individuals to sore horses in his care, including but not limited to inserting bolts into and taping blocks to the horses' feet.

2. Davis instructed others to remove or mask the external soring devices prior to inspections at shows.

3. Davis gave horses shots to keep them from reacting negatively during inspection.

4. Davis and Altman arranged for workers at Davis' barn to obtain trainer's licenses so as to be listed as trainers on the horses' show paperwork.

5. In or about May 2010, Altman paid for Bradford's trainer's license.

6. On or about July 30, 2010, Davis placed and caused to be placed a bolt in the foot of the horse Jose is My Daddy prior to a horse show in Manchester, TN.

7. On or about July 30, 2010, Altman falsely listed Bradford as the trainer of Jose is My Daddy on the entry paperwork for the Manchester, TN show.

8. On or about July 30, 2010, Altman forged Bradford's signature on the entry paperwork for Jose is My Daddy at the Manchester, TN show.

9. In or about Sept 2010, Davis advised potential witnesses not to cooperate with an investigation by authorities into his soring practices.

10. On or about Oct 10, 2010, after receiving a lifetime ban from showing, Davis entered horses he was paid to train into the SSHBEA Fall Show in Shelbyville, TN.

11. On or about Oct 13, 2010, Altman falsely claimed that Bradford was scheduled to participate and act at trainer at the SSHBEA Fall Show on behalf of Davis.

12. On or about Oct 13, 2010, Bradford falsely claimed that he was scheduled to participate and act as trainer at the SSHBEA Fall Show on behalf of Davis.

Count Two - In violation of Title 15, United States Code, Section 1824(1) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2

On July 30, 2010, Davis knowingly shipped, transported, moved and delivered Jose is My Daddy, which was sore, with reason to believe that such horse, while it was sore, would be shown and exhibited in a horse show.

Count Three - In violation of Title 15, United States Code, Section 1824(2)(B) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2

On July 30, 2010, Davis knowingly entered Jose is My Daddy, which was sore, for the purpose of showing and exhibiting such horse in a horse show.

Count Four - In violation of Title 15, United States Code, Section 1824(a)(2)(B) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2

On or about July 30, 2010, Davis, Altman and Bedford did knowingly make and cause to be made false entries and statements in a report, account, record, and memorandum under Title 15, United States Code, Section 1823 as to the name and signature of the trainer.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

RESEARCH - How to Stop Soring From an Amateur's Point of View

I have it on good authority that the USDA is working on the issues with the HIOs who have not accepted the new penalty structure. However I don't have any definite information, whether about decertification or not.

Until then, I've decided to write a post I've been planning to write for a long time. This post is based on over 13 years of experience in the TWH show world, and it's based on extensive research and my observations of sore horses, sound horses, the techniques and work used to train both sore and sound horses, and my experiences with different types of people who own and show TWHs. This is also my opinion only, but I hope that the facts I present shed light on what is truly going on within the TWH industry.

How To Stop Soring From an Amateur's Point of View

The following is a short list of ways I believe soring can be stopped. Here's the deal: this is a cultural and mental situation. The law continues to be broken because first, these people believe that because it's tradition then it's okay to treat horses like this, and second, they don't believe that the law is being seriously enforced, so they can continue to break it without consequences. Therefore, reform within the industry is not going to happen. It needs to come from the enforcers themselves, and that means the USDA.

First, let's look at this text, directly from the HPA:



Sec. 1827. Utilization of personnel of Department of Agriculture and officers and employees of consenting States; technical and other nonfinancial assistance to State

(a) Assistance from Department of Agriculture and States

The Secretary, in carrying out the provisions of this chapter, shall utilize, to the maximum extent practicable, the existing personnel and facilities of the Department of Agriculture. The Secretary is further authorized to utilize the officers and employees of any State, with its consent, and with or without reimbursement, to assist him in carrying out the provisions of this chapter.

Sec. 1828. Rules and regulations

The Secretary is authorized to issue such rules and regulations as he deems necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter.

This means that the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture can give permission to the USDA to make rules and regulations and use its employees as much as possible to enforce the HPA. Therefore, the USDA can do any of the following to affectively end soring as other sound HIOs have done.

1. Take away the tools used to sore horses. Outlaw pads, chains, and bands in the show ring and completely restrict the shoe size and shoe material used.

Used with permission from the USDA

In this x-ray, nails were used to add weight to the horse's stacks to force him to lift and reach higher. You can really see the excess of nails in the back of the hoof, which will make the horse lift higher and flick his feet out in front of him more.

One of the more popular forms of soring horses is to use mechanical means known as pressure shoeing. This can involve sanding down the horse's foot until just beads of blood are showing up, then inserting something between the pad and the horse's hoof that will put pressure on the horse and cause pain. Bands are used to hold the shoe on and can be tightened to where the pain is horrible for the animal. More forms of pressure shoeing can be read about here--scroll down to the tan colored box.

Here are the results of bands that are too tight and shoes that were too heavy.

Via the Internet--cannot find the website these were from

Used with permission from the USDA listening session presentation in 2005

Obviously, these horses were put down as their hooves were completely sheared off. Unfortunately, this happens more often than anyone would like to see, but it is hidden by the industry. I know some people who went to a show in 2005 and witnessed a horse's hoof come off during a class. They said blood was everywhere, but the rider calmly walked away from the horse. The class was stopped, a truck was brought in to take the horse out, and it was put down behind the show buildings. The class continued on as usual. No one said a word, no shock waves through the audience--in fact, the audience continued to chat as if the class had been stopped for a quick tack adjustment. The people I knew were horrified by this obvious disregard of the horse's well being, but they were told it was no big deal, that it happens a lot.

Overall, outlawing these items is extremely easy to do--NWHA and FOSH have already done this in their rulebooks and they have 100% sound shows. Violations to the HPA that occur within these two groups are extremely rare in being related to soring horses but are usually related to other issues, such as indebtedness to show management or other such non-sore violations.

Now, I think we all know that while this is a very easy solution, this may not happen because no study has been doing that has covered the long term effects of a horse wearing stacks/pads. While there are hundreds of people out there who have rehabbed formerly stacked horses and we know the repercussions of what they are, most people within the industry are going to continue to deny there is any lasting effect because they don't want people to know about it. Therefore, I propose this...

2. Pay attention to the real results of the Auburn Study and do another study like it with unbiased vets. For those who don't know, the Auburn Study was done in September 1978 through December of 1982 to study the results of using chains in the show ring using thermography to show where the heat signatures indicated pain. It was determined that both 10 oz and 8 oz chains caused pain and inflammation. So the rulebooks were changed so that nothing heavier than a 6 oz chain is to be used in the show ring (but of course, this rule is violated a lot.)


In this photo, devices known as rollers are being used. Most likely the rings are made of heavy steel and are above the weight limit of 6 ozs. This photo was taken in 2005.

However, here are the results from the Auburn Study that the industry continues to ignore.

‎"Attached are some questions we asked of our farrier and four clinic veterinarians who devote their professional time almost exclusively to equines. They all answered `yes' to the first two questions and suggested sheared heels, quarter cracks, and laminitis as other abnormalities of the forefeet of Tennessee Walking Horses shod with conventional pads. They all answered `yes' to the fourth question, giving their reason that they could not adequately examine the feet unless the sole was exposed.

R.S. Sharman, DVM
Assistant Professor

1. Do you associate , from your observation, increased incidence of thrush with pads covering the sole of horses hooves?
2. Contracted Heels?
3. Other abnormalities?
4. Would you consider it necessary to remove pads and shoes from a horse to do an adequate foot examination? Why?"

The Auburn Study was bought and paid for by the sore horse industry to help back up their claims that the pads and chains don't hurt the horse. This study is frequently referred to by those who continue to support the Big Lick and padded horses, but they conveniently leave out the above information from Dr. Sharman.

Since the AAEP wrote the White Paper, they would be a great place to start. What we need is a true study by vets who are not part of the TWH industry (sound or sore) on how chains affect a horse, no matter what the weight is. Have them go look at BL horses at sales (anonymously, of course) and see how their feet when they’re taken off stacks really are, and x-rays these horses. Check out the plantation horses too—look for long toes and sheered heels, and x-ray them as well.

Illegal long toes. This can also be achieved by applying an epoxy to the hoof to extend it further. This photo was taken at an SSHBEA show.

3. Get rid of HIOs, have only VMOs do inspections, and implement a national TWH rulebook. This would cut down on the amount of TWH shows immensely. The TWH industry is quite possibly the only industry that has weekly shows during the show season. This means that horses are forced to wear heavy shoes, pads, etc. 24/7 so they are ready for shows on Friday and Saturday nights. These animals are extremely overworked for the type of showing they do, and since most of them are sored to make it easy to put them in the ring, they don't receive proper exercise to build up their muscles to learn how to carry both a heavy rider and the heavy shoes properly. So, having to pay for and bring in VMOs will cut down the number of shows as there won't be an "in" with crooked DQPs for bringing in the sore horses anymore.

Now, we all know that "outlaw" or "wildcat" shows will go on. However, because they won't be affiliated, the USDA can easily come in and shut them down and fine the show management a hefty fine for not following the law. The USDA will benefit from the money coming in from having to have VMOs paid for their services, so that money can continue to be used to attend the sore shows.

If the USDA needs an international TWH rulebook, then NWHA is the perfect model for this. NWHA's membership has been accepted accepted by USEF, which means their show rulebook is being considered to be their model for or the official rulebook for TWHs for the USEF. NWHA is the only TWH sound horse group that has accomplished this feat, for in the past, the USEF has shunned the TWH industry because of the abuse. NWHA's dressage rules have also accepted by the USDF as the official dressage rules for gaited horses. Plus, it has been proven that NWHA tends to be the sound horse group of choice for people who go away from the sore HIOs because owners and exhibitors who like more animation can easily follow NWHA's rules. NWHA has taken some amazing steps to get the TWH more recognized as a horse that is perfectly capable of being shown sound, and it's beginning to really become more prominent, especially since NWHA was invited to the WEGs to perform.

There's what my personal research has come to--three simple steps that can stop this abuse for good. Ending soring is easy if only the USDA will do it. Be sure to send in your letters to let the USDA know how you feel and that you want this to end now. If anyone has other ideas, please let me know--we all need to hear suggestions that are out there when it comes to stopping this horrific form of abuse.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

NEWS and ARTICLES - SHOW Allows Jamey Thompson to Continue to Show Horses

From the Walking Horse Report. See my comments below.


SHOW Receives Thompson Letter
Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The SHOW HIO recently received a hardship request from Jamey Thompson asking for a reduction in his suspension levied by SHOW in October 10, 2010.

Thompson was suspended for one year and fined $2,500 and placed on probation through October 11, 2013 for his conduct violations (non-HPA violations) that occurred in the warm-up ring at the 2010 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

In response to Thompson’s hardship, which would affect the customers in his barn and the show circuit in California, and Thompson’s public letter of apology, the SHOW board has decided to reduce Thompson’s suspension.

Thompson was removed from suspension March 1, 2011 but will continue to be on probation through October 2013 and will still be responsible for the $2,500 fine.

Below is the public letter of apology from Thompson to the SHOW HIO:


Dr. Stephen Mullins
SHOW Horse Industry Organization
P.O. Box 167Shelbyville,TN

Dear Dr. Mullins,

I am writing to make a very humble request on my behalf, on my Dad’s behalf and on behalf of our stable customers and the horse show circuit in California.

I sincerely apologize for my unacceptable conduct toward SHOW officials in the inspection area at the 2010 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. I am very aware that what I did was wrong and I have taken steps to correct my mistakes. Therefore at this time I would respectfully request that you re-visit my penalty and request that the SHOW board consider modifying my suspension.

California horse shows are really struggling and I fear that without the participation of all stables on the West Coast the shows will be out of a sufficient number of horses and owners will begin to sell their horses and leave the industry.

I know and appreciate the tremendous improvements SHOW has brought about on behalf of our industry and I commend you and the Board for your efforts on behalf of all trainers and owners. I promise to uphold the high standards and goals of SHOW and to support and work with you to make this industry all it can be.

Please understand that in asking for this suspension reduction I am in no way excusing my behavior and I will strive to continue to do everything possible to maintain a higher standard expected by my peers and the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry to improve all aspects of this wonderful breed of horse that I love.

Thank you for your consideration.

Jamey Thompson


Well, at least we know California BL horse shows are struggling...this is a step in the right direction. STAY AWAY from Thompson's barn, Big Lick shows and SHOW affiliated shows, CA riders: join sound horse clubs such as NPWHA instead!

I would like to thank you, SHOW, for continuing to support Russ Thompson and his son in the efforts to continue to tarnish this breed. If you may recall, R. Thompson was suspended due to his crappy conduct at the 2006 Celebration by the HPA. While his sentence wasn't nearly enough, I thought that perhaps you were being more serious in your suspension with Jamey, his son. Apparently, you aren't. And obviously you are being swayed by his statement that CA shows are losing revenue, which is so precious to continuing your work to allow HPA violators to continue to show and be judges and DQPs. Reducing J. Thompson's sentence to a probation IS NOT ENOUGH. He should not be allowed to show at all. Words are words--he can write whatever he wants on a piece of paper. But obviously his actions were loud enough that you at first were serious about the consequences. However, now you've just proven to everyone that they can also get away with a slap on the wrist and a measly fine if they just say they're sorry. Start being serious about this, SHOW, and I'll start taking you seriously as actually wanting to help the horse and this industry.

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