SHELBYVILLE, TN – Celebration Chairman David L. Howard made some revealing statements yesterday on an internet message board.
In his message board comments, Mr. Howard was condescending and dismissive towards USDA Deputy Administrator Dr. Chester Gipson. There was tension and conflict between the USDA Vets and the Celebration’s SHOW HIO DQPs during much of the 2014 Show season regarding enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.
Prior to 2014, everything was “lovey dovey” with SHOW HIO and the USDA. Here are the words that former Celebration PR Firm Purple Strategies put in the mouth of SHOW HIO
Head DQP Mitchell Butler on September 20, 2013: “Working with the USDA we are making incredible progress in ensuring that the walking horse is protected and the integrity of the sport maintained,” said SHOW HIO Head Designated Qualified Person (DQP) Mitchell Butler. The statement went on to say, “SHOW is the HIO that manages inspections at The Celebration in partnership with the USDA.”
The “partnership”, which never should have been a “partnership” in the first place, went kaflooey in 2014 when the USDA utilized Thermography to “Protect The Horses”.
It shook the sore Big Lick to its foundation.
The old shoe “Deuterononomy* like” USDA suddenly became a roaring “Crown Tiger”* with the use of Thermography to detect “Scar Rule” violations. (*felines from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “CATS”)
The Lickers were so perturbed that in April 2014, Minnesota Attorney Phillip Kunkel was hired by a Big Lick supporter. Mr. Kunkel threatened the USDA over its current enforcement of the Horse Protection Act. He asked for a meeting in Washington “in order to restore the integrity of the horse inspection system which is at the heart of the HPA.”
BIG LICK LAWYER PHILLIP KUNKEL, ESQ.
In his letter to Secretary Vilsack dated April 2, 2014, and letters to Office of General Counsel and Office of Inspector General dated April 18, 2014, Phillip Kunkel specifically protested the USDA’S 2014 scar rule standards, and the use of Science Based Objective Inspection Thermography.
At that point, Sound Horse attorney Russell Gaspar intervened on behalf of the American Horse Show Protection Association and F.O.S.H. (Friends of Sound Horses), and addressed Mr. Kunkel’s letters to the Office of General Counsel and the Secretary of Agriculture.
SOUND HORSE ADVOCATE RUSSELL GASPAR, ESQ.
On May 6, 2014, Russ Gaspar wrote Secretary Vilsack, “It is USDA’s right and obligation to determine how to enforce the act”. “After decades of perpetuating soring” the PSHA could not claim its view of the Law trumped the USDA’s informed judgment and interpretation of the Horse Protection Act and Regulations”.
Gaspar continued, “PSHA’s assertion that using thermography to detect soring is ‘not an objective inspection protocol’ is both plainly wrong and patently hypocritical. For years one of the principal big-lick attacks against USDA’s soring and scar rule enforcement has been that the inspection process is ‘subjective’ and not scientific. Having demanded scientific objectivity, the members of PSHA are now unhappy they’ve gotten it.”
Following the 2014 Celebration, on September 15, Dr. Gipson “requested” the Celebration to issue “Letters Of Warning” to seven S.H.O.W. HIO DQPs.
Mr. Howard’s Celebration inspection program SHOW HIO refused to do so.
In his internet message, Mr. Howard proudly announced that the Celebration defied Dr. Gipson, and it wasn’t planning on complying until the USDA provided documentation of the Celebration’s DQPs alleged wrongdoing . Somehow Mr. Howard, like the racist Mississippi Governor Ross R. Barnett of 1962 (pictured below), seems to think that the Republic Of Tennessee National Walking Horse Celebration is not subject to being regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture in carrying out its enforcement of the federal statute, the Horse Protection Act.
GOV. ROSS R. BARNETT AT THE 1962 OLE MISS – KY GAME INCITING A RIOT
Mr. Howard also announced that the Celebration has a video of USDA Vet Dr. Jeff Baker made at the S.H.O.W. HIO DQP training last week.
According to Mr. Howard, his son Mr. Jeffrey Howard wrote an article in The Walking Horse Report saying that Dr. Baker made some “damaging statements”.
Mr. Howard, Sr. said that a Transcript of the Video was being prepared.
USDA VET DR. JEFF BAKER WORKING AT A TENNESSEE HORSE SHOW
Most likely, the next thing you’ll see will be a “WHATTAJAYROE” spectacular with Mr. Jerry Harris’s studious side kick asking “weighty” questions, and Mr. Jerry “WHATTAJAYROE” Harris providing “incisive” commentary.
It should also not be forgotten, that for some unknown reason known only to Dr. Gipson, he failed to pull pads and shoes and test for pressure shoeing at the 2014 Celebration as he was urged to do by the U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, but that is a story for another day.
SORE BIG LICK INTERNET MESSAGE BOARD DIALOGUE
CELEBRATION CHAIRMAN DAVID L. HOWARD
I am proud of the fact that we are now in a position to propose a number of positive steps to stabilize the industry because, quite simply, we shouldn’t have survived the Past Act assault in 2014. We did because of the efforts of some hard-working industry loyalists and the political courage of a hand full of legislators in Washington.
We are now in a position to move forward and implement some of the programs we have been working on and create long-term solutions and stability for our horse.
First, we must continue our efforts on the legislative front. We need to reintroduce our industry bill, hopefully with additional co-sponsors. I fully expect the Past Act to be re-introduced in the next few weeks. I doubt Ed Whitfield, with his ethics problems, will be the lead but I am sure HSUS will find a Republican to lead and they will start off with a large number of co-sponsors simply because of the Democrats they will get on the bill. The industry must be prepared from a public relations perspective and from a legislative perspective to deal with the introduction of our bill as well as their bill.
Our supporters in Congress have made it abundantly clear they will continue to help us only if the industry moves forward in implementing the things we have said we will do and that there are no more “inside expose stories” or incidents.
Again, I am proud that we survived last year but it was just one step and wasn’t a “victory” per se. We merely survived to try and create and implement real and long-term solutions that are needed and, at the same time, restore credibility to our industry.
CELEBRATION HALL OF FAME MEMBER
I could not agree more. Whether the case on mandatory penalties loses or wins, it is imperative that our industry bill be reintroduced and passed. To do this, it is important that our bill beats the PAST Act to the floor.
If the case loses, the present status quo of subjective inspections will eventually destroy the performance horse even if the PAST Act does not pass. The ability of VMO’s to force DQP’s to discover non-existent “scars” will doom all. But with objective testing, the whims of any VMO are reined in.
In short, no matter which scenerio you wish to make, our subjective testing bill is necessary and imperative. And this will mean higher inspection fees. Science trumps agendas.
CELEBRATION CHAIRMAN DAVID L. HOWARD
Mr. HOF, we have a video of Jeff baker’s remarks at the training session for DQP’s last Saturday. Jeffrey wrote an article and it is online where he makes some very damaging statements. Be sure to read it. We are transcribing the video. We have instructed the DQP’s to ignore the VMO’s opinion and make their judgment impartially and fairly. We have had one DQP who has let us down but we are getting that corrected. This past week we returned the $1,000 appeals fee to the trainer who was written up by the DQP after being intimidated by the VMO. We won’t be able to catch all of those but we are trying.
CELEBRATION HALL OF FAME MEMBER
If the case loses, SHOW will probably be decertified and so will other HIO’s that do not follow the VMO instructions IMHO. This would make DQP’s standing up moot.
Your original post is so right on point. Pass the industry bill.
CELEBRATION CHAIRMAN DAVID L. HOWARD
I honestly don’t know the status of the case but SHOW will not accept decertification without standing up for their rights. As far as what the VMO’s do, the DQP’s are going to continue to give their honest opinion without their interference or those of an exhibitor.
We received a letter from Dr. Gipson on September 15,2014 “requesting” SHOW issue “Letters of Warning” to 7 different DQP’s; including 52 allegations from horse shows as early as March, seven months earlier and gave us 30 days to answer.
We wrote and requested an extension of time to investigate the allegations, followed up with two additional letters and a phone call and have yet to hear from USDA.
Finally in December we sent a letter pointing out that issuing an LOW was an important process because it potentially affects a DQP’s ability to work.
We (CELEBRATION) stated we had an obligation to do more than accept a conclusory request and before disciplining one of our DQP’s we needed to carry out due diligence and investigate their request.
We asked for photographic or video evidence, statements, notes, summaries of anticipated testimony by the VMO’s and witnesses that formed the basis of the USDA’s request.
Unfortunately, we still haven’t heard from the USDA and will not be issuing LOW’s until they prove the DQP’s didn’t do their job properly.
So glad to know that the DQPs who stood their ground against the intimidation tactics of the USDA aren’t being hung out to dry! We must back them! We have given and given and given, time to stand!
The “Case” that Mr. Howard and Celebration Hall of Fame member are discussing is the USDA Complaint to decertify the Celebration’s S.H.O.W.(HIO), Inc. filed over a year ago on January 9, 2014.
Strangely, if an American citizen or a member of the press wants to see the contents of the Case File in HPA Docket No. 14-0056, Complain In Re: SHOW, Inc., it is only available by FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) request.
Somehow, Harold doesn’t think that is what Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he came up with the idea of Freedom Of The Press to be included in the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution so citizens would know what their government was doing.
For the USDA to not make the contents of the case file available to the public is simply outrageous.
RUSSELL GASPAR LETTER TO U.S. SEC. OF AGRICULTURE – TOM VILSACK – RE: ENFORCEMENT OF THE HORSE PROTECTION ACT – MAY 6, 2014