SHELBYVILLE, TN – Dave Thomas down at Shelbyville NOW has weighed in on the PAST ACT and Blackburn alternative. Thomas writes an article entitled Is A New Law Really Necessary?. Thomas uses the article to give his opinion that a large part of the responsibility for where things are today in the Tennessee Walking Horse business is the USDA’s failure to enforce the Horse Protection Act.
DAVID THOMAS, PUBLISHER – SHELBYVILLE NOW
Thomas lays the blame at the feet of APHIS Administrators Kevin Shea and Chester Gipson, DVM and suggests that they be replaced.
Here is the article:
Is a New Law Really Necessary?
March 3, 2014
The big debate is “on” concerning the Horse Protection Act and amendments are pending to change the Walking Horse industry.
On one side you have the PAST Act that would eliminate pads, wedges, action devices and all weighted shoes and on the other side you have a proposal from Marsha Blackburn that would utilize technology and implement a new inspection system.
Why do we sit here with the industry in the hands of politicians?
I think its quite simple. The Walking Horse industry and the USDA have been tap dancing with each other for 40 years.
Who’s fault is it?
When I start looking for blame, the cartoon characters Road Runner and Wiley Coyote come to mind.
The USDA has been the big bad enforcement agency (wiley) responsible for enforcement of the HPA and the industry has been running just out of their reach (Road Runner).
The industry is just one step ahead of USDA it seems.
But are they really?
Maybe instead of the Wiley Coyote and Road Runner comparison, I should compare the relationship to the World Wrestling Federation cast of characters. The public sees the storyline as us against them, but in fact behind the scenes the two public advesaries are arm in arm…. Laughing behind the scenes as the public falls for the drama.
Why would anyone think this?
For years I have followed the hate relationship that the walking horse industry has had with the USDA and the cast of VMOs. There is always a villan coming to spoil the show and then the villan gets pulled back a bit. Like puppets, the VMOs have been controlled by higher politics.
If the USDA/ Industry relationship had been developed to eliminate soring, there would be no soring today. Instead we see a new political environment that goes way past the usual players in this game.
We now have Congressman Whitfield with his host of co-sponsors lined up with the AAEP, AVMA and The American Horse Council in agreement that the pads, wedges, chains and weighted shoes have to go in order to enforce the Horse Protection Act.
These people mean business.
If the USDA and the walking horse industry had implemented some honest dialogue in the past concerning soring and how to actually eliminate it, we might not be facing this looming legislation.
Why hasn’t the USDA told the industry that GOJO, GentleKleen, Dawn Soap, Joy Detergent along with WD40 and other household items are soring agents?
Why hasn’t the USDA told the industry that the use of a certain blue hoof putty is pressure shoeing?
Why hasn’t the USDA informed the industry that trimming hooves a certain way can be considered pressure shoeing/ soring?
Why hasn’t the USDA enforced numerous violations from the past? Has their program been that unreliable?
Why was the World Grand Championship Stake from 2009 not retied? Sources say that the top three horses were disqualified in the post show inspection. The USDA disqualified them and nobody knows what happened after that.
Why haven’t the swab results been used as scientific evidence to enforce the HPA?
It appears to me that the USDA has held the success of eliminating soring in its hands for 40 years and has failed miserably.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to clean house at APHIS and get some serious enforcement in place rather than coming up with new laws and allowing the same ole cast of characters that have failed stay in charge?
BGB COMMENTARY on Shelbyville NOW Article:
- The PAST ACT is necessary because it eliminates the pads and chains which you must have for the sore Big Lick. You can’t have the Big Lick without soring. The pads and chains have to go.
- The Blackburn alternative is nothing more than a sore Big Lick attempt to: maintain status quo, get rid of the law-abiding HIOS and attempt to achieve a compromise law which will allow a 1/2 package and some type of bell boot or alternative action device such as a leather dog collar in order to continue a modified Big Lick.
- If APHIS Administrators Kevin Shea and Chester Gipson, DVM can’t provide transparency regarding the USDA Enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, they need to be replaced. At the very least, once the PAST ACT passes, their job performance needs to be reviewed, and determination made if they should continue in their present roles regarding the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.
- The 2009 USDA post show inspections/determinations need to be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. If the top three horses were disqualified at post inspection by USDA VMOs, and the classes were not retied by the Celebration management, then action needs to be taken and all involved held responsible.
- The U.S. Attorney needs to look into any alleged improprieties which may have taken place at the 2009 Celebration, and if it appears that crimes have been committed, then the matter needs to be presented to a Federal Grand Jury.