WASHINGTON, DC – USDA APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea has recently come under fire for giving a wink and a nod “Special Treatment” to David L. Howard’s Celebration owned S.H.O.W. HIO.
USDA APHIS ADMINISTRATOR KEVIN SHEA
In doing so, Kevin Shea appears to have blatantly discriminated against compliant HIOS like WHOA HIO (Walking Horse Owners Association), FOSH HIO (Friends of Sound Horses HIO) and IWHA HIO (International Walking Horse Association) and caused them economic damage.
As a result Shea has given the Big Lick S.H.O.W. HIO an unfair economic advantage over the HIOS cooperating and complying with the USDA. The HIO business is competitive. All HIOs make their money by being chosen to inspect horses in order to enforce the Horse Protection Act. Shea’s preferential and discriminatory administration of the HPA has apparently tilted the playing field in favor of the Celebration’s S.H.O.W. HIO, and consequently caused economic damage to the law-abiding compliant Horse Industry Organizations.
Show managers who hire HIOs pay attention to which HIO trainers will bring horses to be inspected and shown. If Shea allows one HIO to get away with not adopting the minimum penalties, yet do business as usual, then he is causing economic damage to the HIOs which did adopt the minimum penalties. The Big Lick trainers will bring their horses to shows at which the non-compliant HIO is inspecting. The same applies to an HIO which refuses to upload the minimum penalties to the USDA HPA database. If there is not going to be any consequences for violating the Horse Protection Act, the HPA violators are going to use that HIO. And that HIO will have an unfair competitive business advantage.
Kevin Shea apparently does not understand his job is to protect the Horses, not give cushy favors to people like David L. Howard who loves to keep his Cash Cow “Cha Ching” full and happy.
Further evidence of Shea’s preferential treatment of S.H.O.W. HIO is Shea apparently delayed decertification of S.H.O.W. HIO to allow S.H.O.W. HIO to reemerge as Independent Inspection Services, LLC HIO. It was to be led by the suspect former Celebration CEO Doyle Meadows. Then when Shea did file decertification Complaint on January 9, 2014, he kept it secret for almost a month until he finally produced it under extreme pressure from Sound Horse interests. Shea has done absolutely nothing to require David L. Howard’s S.H.O.W. HIO to upload 139 HPA violations to the HPA database which are subject to the mandatory Minimum Penalties. The other compliant HIOs have uploaded the HPA violations to the USDA HPA database. And Shea has done nothing to decertify Heart of American HIO which has refused to accept the mandatory minimum penalties for HPA violations.
Shea’s USDA superiors need to call him on the carpet and require him to account for his actions. Members of Congress need to demand that Kevin Shea administer the Horse Protection Act with an even hand and not reward persons like Celebration Chairman David L. Howard and S.H.O.W. HIO with preferential and discriminatory treatment.
Kevin Shea needs to resign if he is not going to place protecting the Horses over the interests of the monied Big Lick interests.
Seasoned legal observers believe that APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea has opened the USDA up to litigation for economic damages to compliant HIOS as a result of Shea’s apparent discriminatory administration and unequal application of the Horse Protection Act. Instead of Shea cracking down on the non-compliant HIOS like S.H.O.W. HIO and HOA HIO and publicly criticizing them for their misconduct, Shea is now providing DQP training to the non-compliant HIOs to be overseen by USDA VMOs like everything is fine. This reinforces the improper behavior of the non-compliant HIOs.
Another focus of Kevin Shea’s administration centers on the USDA oversight of a couple of upcoming Big Lick events:
- Big Lick sale called “Delta Select Equine Sale” co-owned by HPA violator David Landrum at Tunica, Mississippi on February 22, 2014,
- “Spring Fling” Big Lick sale/colt preview being held on the Celebration grounds on February 28, 2014,
- Both will be inspected by the presently being decertified and defiant non-compliant David L. Howard’s Celebration owned S.H.O.W. HIO.
BACKGROUND – KENTUCKY AFTER CHRISTMAS SALE MOVED TO MISSISSIPPI
In January 2013, there was a big controversy when the David Landrum owned Kentucky After Christmas Sale attempted to slip into the Kentucky Horse Park. There’s a history regarding the Tennessee Walking Horse not being allowed in the Kentucky Horse Park due to the Big Lick soring. In 2009, the Tennessee Walking Horse breed was barred from participating in the Equestrian Village at the Alltech Equestrian FEI Equestrian Games held at the Kentucky Horse Park due to the soring stigma. The embarrassing rejection took place after TWHBEA put down a $20,000.00 deposit. The Kentucky Horse Park sent the $20,000.00 back and said we don’t need the controversy associated with the sore Big Lick Tennessee Walking Horse.
So in 2013 when HPA violator David Landrum attempted to move the Big Lick Tennessee Walking Horse sale in to the Kentucky Horse Park, it was met with stiff resistance. A public outcry took place and Lexington Leader-Herald newspaper reporter Janet Patton covered the story. In previous years, Landrum had used the Celebration owned S.H.O.W. HIO to inspect the horses at the Kentucky After Christmas Sale.
The newspaper highlighted a connection between the Sale Proprietor David Landrum and the Celebration owned S.H.O.W. HIO. It detailed a horse abuse dispute involving Joe Cotten – a former employee of Landrum and Hall of Fame Trainer, who said that he received a horse from David Landrum’s barn that was allegedly abused while in training at David Landrum’s stables. There was a “He Said” and “He Said” and then the Celebration owned S.H.O.W. HIO got involved in the matter in a big way as detailed in the Lexington, Kentucky newspaper article below.
Horse Park might host sale that could include controversial ‘padded’ horses
BY JANET PATTON
January 12, 2013
“A controversial breed might be getting a new hoof in the door at the Kentucky Horse Park, and equine welfare groups are not happy.
The Horse Park is in negotiations to allow a sale this month of Tennessee walking horses, possibly including some wearing controversialhoof pads that exaggerate their gait. The Kentucky After Christmas Sale hopes to offer about 300 horses for sale Jan. 25 and 26.
Horse Park director John Nicholson said that legal activities have a right to use the state-run park. Padded horses are legal “” although several groups headquartered on the park’s campus, including the American Association of Equine Practitioners, are working to change that.
The big lick is often associated with the worst abuses under the federal Horse Protection Act, including “soring,” the deliberate injuring of walking horses’ front legs.
The painful treatments that trainers sometimes use to encourage the big lick include painting caustic chemicals on the horse’s front legs, piling on heavy chains that bounce on tender spots, applying huge padded shoes, or inserting objects (including nails, tacks or golf balls) under the pads to create sore feet, a practice known as “pressure shoeing.”
Allegations made online
David Landrum, vice president of the Kentucky After Christmas Sale, and some perennial horse sellers at the sale have been associated with violations of the federal Horse Protection Act.
A database of HPA violations lists five suspensions for Landrum from 1997 to 2010 “” for soring, for putting a foreign substance on a horse’s leg, for violating show rules and for verbal abuse.
Last summer, Landrum also was involved in a dispute that erupted online involving a horse allegedly abused while at his stables to be trained. It remains unclear exactly what happened to the horse and when.
A mare named Jose’s Wine and Roses was brought to a new trainer, Joe Cotten, a Louisville native and a former Landrum employee who now lives in Bell Buckle, Tenn.
Cotten said that when she arrived he was shocked at the condition of the horse’s feet and posted photos on Facebook. He also demanded to know how she had passed previous inspections by officials from the USDA-accredited horse-industry group called SHOW, an acronym that stands for “Sound horses, Honest judging, Objective inspections, Winning fairly.”
In an interview with the Herald-Leader, Cotten said L.M. Murphy, husband of owner Deborah Murphy, told him the mare had been in Landrum’s barn.
Cotten said the horse also was examined by a veterinarian who took separate photos of the horse’s front feet. Copies of those photos “” obtained by the Herald-Leader, labeled “Jose’s Wine and Roses” and dated June 18, 2012 “” appear to show scars and injuries.”
PICTURE JOE COTTEN PUBLISHED ON FACEBOOK – JUNE 18, 2012
“Deborah Murphy said Friday that she thinks the injuries happened while the mare was with Cotten.
“She was fine. … I was there every week, and she was fine,” Murphy said. “When this fiasco on Facebook came out, my husband picked her up. … She was fine when she went there; after a week, she wasn’t. I know it had to happen at Joe Cotten’s. … Why Joe Cotten put this on the Internet is beyond any of us.”
Murphy said there are no photos with the report she got from the vet who examined the mare at Cotten’s barn. She declined to release the report to the Herald-Leader. Murphy later said that the veterinarian has told her no photos were taken.
“It’s none of your business. None of this is,” Murphy said. “I want to close the book on this. I don’t want to go through this again.”
The veterinarians, Dr. John Bennett (Walking Horse Business paid “Invited Witness” at PAST ACT Nov. 13, 2013 Congressional Hearing) and Dr. Belinda Mendenhall, did not return calls from the Herald-Leader.
Landrum told the Herald-Leader that Jose’s Wine and Roses had not been sored. He said she had been shown in 2011 at the National Futurity in Shelbyville, Tenn., and was inspected at the time by the USDA.
“I don’t know what horse those photos were of,” Landrum said. “The horse left my place in great shape.”
Cotten insisted the Facebook and vet photos are of the horse Murphy brought him that day from Landrum’s stable and that the injuries did not occur in the days she was under Cotten’s care.”
PICTURE JOE COTTEN PUBLISHED ON FACEBOOK – JUNE 18, 2012
“Cotten, who also has multiple HPA violations according to an online database, said no industry investigators had ever contacted him about the incident but he wrote online in June that he had been warned that walking horse insiders would “drop the hammer” on him.
Within days, Cotten was handed a 7 ½ -year suspension and fined $5,000 by SHOW inspectors. “It’s a classic whistle-blower case is what it is,” Cotten said.
JOE COTTEN’S PUNISHMENT FROM S.H.O.W. HIO
SHOW is accredited by the USDA to license designated qualified persons to inspect walking horses at shows and sales for signs of soring, including scars, tender legs or foreign substances.
Landrum said SHOW officials investigated Jose’s Wine and Roses and found no problem.
That is not entirely accurate.
SHOW interim leader Mike Inman (Now Celebration CEO) told the Herald-Leader that the group stepped in and took the horse to a vet for at least two weeks of care.
“It needed medication attention to get its feet back in proper condition,” Inman said. “I was not here at the time, but I know the horse was taken, at SHOW’s expense, and given treatment. This was done as a goodwill gesture for the good of the horse.”
SHOW did not establish how or when the horse got in that condition.
Inman said the group doesn’t have the authority to examine records related to the horse’s circumstances outside the show ring.
“Joe Cotten claims one thing, David Landrum another, and the owner claims another. We can’t decide what’s right or wrong,” Inman said.
SHOW had previously been the inspecting horse-industry organization for the Kentucky After Christmas Sale but will not be this year, because the USDA is attempting to decertify SHOW, which would strip the group of the authority to inspect shows or sales.
Protecting horse, park
Landrum and the sale’s president, Jerrold Pedigo, both said that USDA standards are upheld at the sale.
“We’ve never conducted a sale without inspectors certified by the USDA,” Pedigo said.
There have been horses that failed inspection, he said.
“They’re seldom … but they have occurred,” he said. “That’s the whole purpose of having the inspections. We have to make sure they don’t get in the sale.”
To ensure that there are no sore horses at the Horse Park, director Nicholson said, the state specified which horse industry organization will supply the inspectors.
The International Walking Horse Association “” one of three accredited to inspect walking horse shows that want to be eligible to receive funds from the taxpayer-funded Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund “” will do the inspections.
Nicholson said he has urged the USDA to send federal inspectors, something that often causes trainers and riders to flee horse shows in Kentucky and elsewhere to avoid that scrutiny.
Pedigo said he would welcome USDA involvement and wants the sale to be transparent.
“I would hope the main goal is make sure the participants follow the law,” Pedigo said. “So long as we do that, the system put in place protects the animal. I can certainly appreciate, respect and agree with those individuals who don’t want to see an animal sored.”
Nicholson said the state has taken steps to ensure that all walking horses at the sale are protected. Walking horses are popular for trail riding as well as other kinds of sports and have sweet dispositions, he said. The Horse Park’s Parade of Breeds includes some Tennessee walking horses that are “flat-shod,” meaning they do not have padded hooves.
The Horse Park “is a public facility, publicly supported,” Nicholson said. “Law-abiding people who love and properly care for their horses have the right to utilize it. Soring of horses to enhance performance is abhorrent, repugnant, immoral and, thankfully, illegal.
“Illegal practices will not happen at the Kentucky Horse Park.”
Landrum said that the Kentucky After Christmas Sale could be an important move to rehabilitate the image of the Tennessee walking horse and bring it back into the mainstream.
“We believe we can bring a product that will be accepted. We have faith in the consignors and the horses they’re bringing,” Landrum said. “I think this could be a breakthrough and people could realize what a nice animal we have. We want people to come out. I think it can all be a very, very positive thing. It’s important to give this breed a chance. We’re coming in the right way.”
DAVID LANDRUM HPA VIOLATION RECORD
Whether that will be enough is unclear. Groups including the National Walking Horse Association, which is headquartered at the Horse Park, are skeptical. The NWHA promotes flat-shod Tennessee walking horses and prohibits the use of pads in all events.
“I feel like if the International Walking Horse Association does the inspections, only sound horses will show,” said Jason Crawhorn, NWHA president.
Will that include padded performance horses?
“If the performance horses still show up at the sale.”