THE USDA SUITS – CHESTER, KEVIN AND SECRETARY TOM VILSACK
THETA, TN – While the world is focused on the progress of the PAST Act, TWHBEA’S “California Gate”, and Nephew Eugene is eating Mexican in Lewisburg checking up on the stumbling, mumbling and fumbling start at TWHBEA by King Steve Smith and Chief Justice Walt Chism, the big news may be out of sight, and if not already decided, it is about to be decided.
* WHY HASN’T THE USDA ALREADY DECERTIFIED CELEBRATION’S SHOW HIO?
* WAS A DEAL CUT WITH DAVID L. HOWARD’S SORE BIG LICKERS TO HAVE PSHA TAKE THE PLACE OF SHOW HIO WHEN THE SHOW HIO ACCEPTED THE MANDATORY PENALTIES?
* WILL THE USDA ENFORCE THE LAW AND DECERTIFY CELEBRATION’S SHOW HIO?
Billy Go Boy brought the news to the world this week that Gayle Holcomb, lifelong sore Big Lick aficionado and Country Music Artist Agent, would be taking Doyle Meadows place as Chair of PSHA.
Holcomb has a boatload of recent HPA citations.
But I digress.
In June 2012, the USDA took measures to decertify SHOW HIO, then the Celebration’s SHOW HIO and Mike McGartland sued the USDA in U. S. District Court in Texas over the Mandatory Minimum Penalties which finally put real teeth in the inspection process. The USDA then inexplicably stopped the decertification process in mid-stream.
In February 2012, sore Big Lick ring leader David L. Howard got the TWHSHO crowd to form PSHA (Performance Show Horse Association) in order to have total control over the Inspection process. One HIO was the name of the game. The Walking Horse Trainer Boyz often referred to as Howard’s “Sharecroppers” were stampeded and scared by Herr Howard into joining PSHA.
Herr Howard’s scheme was to have the Trainer Boyz tell their customers, the ones who pay the bills and buy the ads, that if they showed at any other HIO than the Celebration’s SHOW HIO, then they could NOT show at the Celebration. Then SHOW HIO started an “inspection” charge, “pay to play” fee on the Owners. As with all things in the kaleidoscopic walking horse “racket”, the ‘you can’t show anywhere else’ was lifted after the Celebration. As always, Howard and the Trainer Boyz make it up as they go, and the lowly customer always pays the bill, and always likes it.
Feb. 2012 – Terry Dotson was chosen Chairman of PSHA, and the Board consisted of former TWSHO (Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization) folks including Lee McGartland, wife of plaintiff attorney Mike McGartland, Duke Thorson (Thorworks Tycoon), James L. Griffith (Coal Guy) , Bruce MacDonald (FAST guy), Jim Cortner (Funeral Man), Buddy Stasney(Car dealer), Celebration CEO Mike Inman and Trainer Boyz Mickey McCormick and Jamie Hankins.
Then Terry Dotson did a lot of big talking about self-regulation and cleaning up soring, and he was feeling his oats over PSHA being the ultimate solution to cure-all ills.
Right before the March 2013 Trainer’s Show, Terry’s PSHA touched base with the USDA and nonchalantly informed USDA, “Oh, by the way PSHA (using all the same SHOW HIO inspectors, etc.) will be doing the inspections at the 2013 Trainer’s Show.
Informed sources report that APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea had a “serious” problem” with that approach. In no uncertain language, Shea nixed that idea. so SHOW HIO inspected the horses at the Trainers Show.
PSHA did not apply for certification as an HIO.
The Trainers Show was a major bust when the public didn’t darken the door. Still Terry Dotson kept with the “bravado” and “big talk”. Terry told everybody that he was going to see U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and get everything straight for the Big Lick. Chairman Terry Dotson, WHTA Boyz President Mickey McCormick, Jeffrey Howard and Lobbyist Jeff Speaks got a 15 minute session with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on March 30, 2013. At the meeting, Secretary Vilsack had Mickey McCormick’s thick dossier of HPA violations on his desk while he listened to Chairman Terry tell him that they were “showing sound complaint horses” and that they would “clean up soring” and “not to worry about a thing”.
Then in June 2012, Terry gave a big interview to The Tennessean reporter Heidi Hall in which he said he would get out of the horse business if he couldn’t do the Big Lick with his horses. Terry Dotson is from East Tennessee and his trainer Brent Coburn was a protegÃ© of Larry Joe Wheelon. Dotson and Wheelon often socialized at horse shows and barn parties.
On July 25, 2013, a group of Sound Horse Advocates led by former USDA Aphis Administrator W. Ron Dehaven, now AVMA CEO; International Walking Horse Association official Donna Benefield; Friends of Sound Horses President Teresa Bippen and Kentucky Gaited Horse Clinician Gary Lane spent an hour with Secretary Vilsack. Informed sources say that members of the Sound Horse contingent then met with USDA officials Kevin Shea and Chester Gipson to discuss things going forward. Some were concerned that Kevin Shea and Chester Gipson might be conflicted on either enforcing the law against soring or treading lightly so as to interfere with the “entertainment” aspect of the Celebration which might affect Celebration crowd attendance and possibly be detrimental to the local economy.
The Sound Horse advocates delivered a clear message to Kevin Shea that they expected Shea/Gipson and Company to enforce the Horse Protection Act, and if they did not, litigation forcing them to do so was likely. Two of the persons meeting with the USDA officials that day returned to Washington on Nov. 13 to testify before Congress supporting passage of the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act.
On July 29, 2013, U. S. District Judge Terry Means upheld the Mandatory Penalties regulation to the Horse Protection Act, and “slam dunked” the Big Lickers with a Summary Judgement. (Licker lawyerMike McGartland later appealed Judge Means decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.)
Following Judge Means decision, there was lots of speculation what the Celebration was going to do about accepting the USDA Mandatory Penalties.
On August 18, 2013, Celebration Director David L. Howard and consigliere John T. Bobo went to Washington, DC, and met with Chester Gipson, DVM, and signed the Mandatory Penalties.
At the time, Billy Go Boy termed it as the “Surrender to the United States”.
Billy Go Boy now wonders if it was actually the “Sellout of the Sound Horse“ by USDA officials who have a “cozy” working relationship with the sore Big Lick David L. Howard crowd. It is especially noteworthy that David L. Howard himself came to Washington in August 2013 and brought his lawyer, fellow Celebration Board member John T. Bobo to make the arrangements.
Then on the first night of the 2013 Celebration, PSHA Chair Terry Dotson got two horses turned down as SORE by the USDA VMO, and Dotson got into a verbal altercation with Secretary VIlsack’s VMO (Veterinary Medical Officer), so Terry packed up and left the Celebration mad as a wet hornet and on the way out the door resigned as PSHA Chair. He spent the Celebration in his camper up at Kingston, Tennessee eating Cheetos.
The Celebration by any measure was a disaster which included “Saviour Horse” Honors being turned down as SORE with scars on both feet, and drastic reduction in attendance.
At the Celebration, SHOW HIO didn’t inspect horses in order to “manufacture” the phoney 98.4% HPA Compliance numbers. One night, SHOW HIO was 0 for 138 inspections.
The truth is 81% of the Sore Horses found by the USDA are Big Lick horses.
SHOW HIO went defunct in late November 2013.
The HR 1518/S 1406 POLL in which TWHBEA members voted 63% “YES” for passage o the PAST Act – to remove the pads and chains, eliminate corrupt HIO system, and make horse soring a federal felony.
The entire country is now against the Big Lick.
An overwhelming 259 Congressmen and 41 U. S. Senators now co-sponsor the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act
Post Celebration, informed sources say a USDA official Dr. Andrea Morgan, Deputy APHIS Administrator who works with Kevin Shea may have let the cat out of the bag on a possible deal. It is reported that Dr. Morgan intimated that PSHA would be certified and take the place of SHOW HIO. Word got out among the Flatters, and Dr. Morgan’s area of responsibility was reportedly changed:
It is hard to understand the seemingly bizarre “hand in glove” relationship between USDA and David L. Howard’s Celebration bunch, and especially after the Celebration SHOW HIO sued the USDA.
But back to the future – the 2014 Trainers Show is 55 days away.
The customers have paid training all winter, and as the legendary owner of Pride’s Generator once said, “What are we going to do with them, plow them?”
So the public needs to demand to know if a “deal” has been cut by the USDA with the sore Big Lick?
* SLOW PLAY ON DECERTIFICATION OF SHOW HIO?
* CERTIFICATION OF PSHA HIO TO TAKE THE PLACE OF SHOW HIO?
What needs to be done:
* IF ANYBODY at USDA has cut a deal with the sore Big Lick, it needs to be reversed immediately.
* The USDA needs to immediately decertify SHOW HIO.
* The USDA must NOT certify PSHA as an HIO.
Secretary Tom Vilsack needs to listen to the American people on this matter.
The country is behind cleaning up the soring once and for all.
The Secretary needs to be sure that the “professionals”, Kevin Shea and Chester Gipson, DVM, take care of enforcing the Horse Protection Law, rather than be concerned about tourism based on the institutionalized soring of the magnificent Tennessee Walking Horse.
There can be just as much, or more, tourism built around this Sound Tennessee Walking Horse which The University of Tennessee has chosen over the Big Lick.
Here is the future of the Tennessee Walking Horse.