THETA, TN – Nephew Eugene always likes to compliment a journalist when a good job is done covering this Tennessee Walking Horse story. Jason Reynolds is a good journalist and he did a good job trying to “cover” the publicity stunt story generated by Horse Trainer Herbert Derickson last week. It was obviously a set up piece by the Big Lick crowd trying to create a theme to use to attempt to stop the USDA from enforcing the Horse Protection Act to eliminate soring and protect “The Horses”.
Trainer Derickson contested the USDA’s writing a scar rule violation on a Horse he trains named “Master Class” at the “Celebration’s Kick Off Classic” on April 19, 2014. The ST-G article incorrectly has the horse’s name as “Master Trainer”.
After the Trainer’s Show, Trainer Derickson took the Horse to Dr. John Bennett’s clinic. Dr. Bennett is the paid industry expert witness, who testified on behalf of Larry Joe Wheelon in August 2013. in Maryville,Tennessee, and against the PAST ACT before Congress in November 2013.
Dr. Bennett testified in Maryville that this Horse wasn’t necessarily sore, and said the condition of the horse pictured could be caused by a maladjusted tail brace or colic.
Once Derickson got the horse to Bennett’s clinic, his wife Jill arranged a publicity event by inviting Congressman Scott Desjarlais over to inspect the Horse. By plan, Celebration CEO Mike Inman and some other Big Lickers tagged along.
In the following story, Celebration Mike Inman makes an astounding accusation.
(Inman says) “Master Trainer is now banned from showing for life under a new USDA rule, Inman said. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has told industry DQPs during training sessions this year that USDA does not intend to allow a horse to ever show again once it has been found in violation of the scar rule. USDA inspectors use an iris scanner to verify a horse’s identity during inspections, and their database will immediately disqualify a banned horse from showing. “That rule is new this year,” Inman said. “It’s not in writing anywhere, and that’s what is very concerning to people. Their new interpretation is, once scarred, always scarred. Science says that’s not the case. He obviously is not. The four vets and the objective X-ray testing showed he is not.”
When The Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration CEO accuses the USDA of having a Rule which it does not have is something you don’t run across every day.
Journalist Reynolds needs to fully explore this issue and settle it once and for all since Inman was bold enough to make the incredible statement naming no source, Reynolds put his name on the story, and the Times-Gazette printed it.
- For one thing, Reynolds did not require Inman to name a source for the statement which he should have.
- Reynolds did not make it clear if Inman was present at the DQP training session?
One common sense reason for the USDA to use the “Retinal Scan” “Science Based Objective” technique is to determine the identity of a horse in order to keep dishonest trainers from leading horses up to be inspected that are not the actual horses that will be shown. This has been a common practice in the Big Lick world. Another is the use of “Ticket Takers” who are Trainer BOYZ employees who lead horses through inspection and if a ticket is issued, the real Trainer does not get the ticket.
In the past, the Shelbyville Times-Gazette has done an incredibly poor job of covering the Tennessee Walking Horse story. Many observers believe this is due to the influence of David L. Howard on the management of the newspaper. The Times-Gazette unforgivably waited approximately 7 days to publish the January 7, 2014, Complaint when the USDA decertified the Celebration’s S.H.O.W. HIO after it was first published on www.billygoboy.com.
To its disgrace, The Tennessean newspaper did not publish this event at all.
Trainers’ plea: Objectivity in horse show inspections
Sunday, April 27, 2014
(T-G Photo by Jason Reynolds) [Order this photo]
A horse training family is calling for more objectivity in inspections following one horse’s disqualification at last week’s Kick Off Classic and a possible lifetime ban of the 3-year-old.
Master Trainer was disqualified after showing on a scar rule violation by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors last Saturday, said trainer Herbert Derickson. Prior to the showing, industry inspectors (DQPs) had checked and passed the horse. The horse’s veterinarian said he — and three consultants — found nothing wrong with the horse after the show.
(T-G Photo by Jason Reynolds) [Order this photo]
The horse had been shown, passing both USDA and industry inspections with no issues, a month ago at the Trainers’ Show. The Dericksons said one of the USDA inspectors at the Trainers’ Show who passed the horse was present during the inspections last week that issued the violation.
“All the industry wants is for right being recognized as right and wrong being recognized as wrong,” Derickson said. “We in the walking horse industry want objective inspections.”
Derickson and his wife, Jill, have raised and trained the colt for owner Tim Brooks of Hot Springs, Ark.
The USDA responded to the controversy.
“Master Trainer was found in violation of the scar rule after showing in a class for the Kick Off Classic Horse Show last weekend,” according to one email from Tanya Espinosa, public affairs specialist of legislative and public affairs for USDA-APHIS.
“It is possible that a horse may be found in scar rule violation post-showing rather than pre-showing because of actions conducted after the inspection such as the type of performance required of the horse. Also, additional equipment such as action devices applied around the legs of horses as well as lubrication, other environmental causes (sweat, dust, dirt, etc), or a combination of all three after a preshow inspection may irritate the skin further and result in violation of the scar rule.”
However, one industry leader said that the horse has never been ticketed before, nor can a horse become scarred in a matter of minutes.
Master Trainer was shown 20 times previously with no issues, and some of those inspections had been done by the USDA, said Celebration Chief Executive Officer Mike Inman.
“It’s medically impossible to develop a scar in five minutes,” Inman said. “How can he not be scarred before he shows and then have a scar in five minutes?”
Master Trainer was quarantined at Equine Services after the disqualification, said veterinarian John Bennett. The horse was removed from quarantine Tuesday afternoon when Inman and the Dericksons visited. U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who is a physician, and his staff inspected Master Trainer as well.
DesJarlais said that as a doctor, he understands that one physician may give one diagnosis, while another doctor may give a different diagnosis.
Bennett said he found no evidence of scarring after doing physical examinations and taking X-rays, ultrasounds, photos and videos. He said he also had three other veterinarians inspect the horse, and they found no problems. Bennett presented a copy of the X-rays to DesJarlais.
“How come after 40 years (of the Horse Protection Act) we have the same issues,” Bennett said. “Is it us? I don’t think so.”
(T-G Photo by Jason Reynolds) [Order this photo]
Master Trainer is now banned from showing for life under a new USDA rule, Inman said. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has told industry DQPs during training sessions this year that USDA does not intend to allow a horse to ever show again once it has been found in violation of the scar rule. USDA inspectors use an iris scanner to verify a horse’s identity during inspections, and their database will immediately disqualify a banned horse from showing.
“That rule is new this year,” Inman said. “It’s not in writing anywhere, and that’s what is very concerning to people. Their new interpretation is, once scarred, always scarred. Science says that’s not the case. He obviously is not. The four vets and the objective X-ray testing showed he is not.”
The T-G asked Espinosa for clarification of post-showing violations and whether Master Trainer was banned for life.
She would not confirm the scar rule violation would be a lifetime ban, as Inman stated, however she wrote, “Under the Horse Protection Act, there will be evidence of bilateral abuse that can be seen as excessive hair loss, irritation, proliferating tissue, moisture, edema, or other evidence of inflammation. These signs can be caused by biological, chemical or physical agents.
“Horses subject to the scar rule shall be considered to be “sore” which is defined under the Horse Protection Act. Under 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.
“Therefore, the show management was informed by USDA that Master Trainer was in violation of the HPA and found sore because the horse was not in compliance with the scar rule. The show management disqualified the horse from the remainder of the horse show as directed in the HPA.”
Disqualifying a horse for life is the equivalent of seizing a person’s property, Inman said, thus threatening the breed.
The USDA is concerned with enforcing the Horse Protection Act, Espinosa said.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is tasked with enforcing the Horse Protection Act (HPA), a federal law that prohibits horses subjected to a practice called soring from participating in shows, sales, exhibitions, or auctions,” she said. DesJarlais is co-sponsoring H.R. 4098, The Horse Protection Amendment Act of 2014, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Her bill is the industry’s alternative to the Whitfield Amendment, or Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act of 2013. The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the PAST Act on April 10, potentially clearing the way for a vote on the Senate floor. DesJarlais said he is not certain the act will be voted on before the congressional session ends; if not, then the bill would have to be reintroduced next in the next session.
The congressman called the Whitfield Amendment an “overreaching” by government that could eliminate the breed.
The Whitfield bill, Derickson said, would destroy the breed — and his family’s business. They train 50 horses, and their four children show horses.”
Nephew Eugene smiles when he hears Big Lickers claim that removing the pads and chains from the Big Lick Horses would eliminate the breed when only 8/10th of 1% of the 200,000 living Tennessee Walking Horses are Big Lick show horses. Then there’s the $3.2 Billion and 20,000 unemployed whoppers, too.