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 Subject: Tennessean News (AP)- Horse abuse reported more when feds looking

 Tennessean News

 Thursday, 02/07/02
 Horse abuse reported more when feds looking

 WASHINGTON (AP) Violations of an animal protection law are 12 times more
  likely to be reported when there is federal oversight at Tennessee
Walking Horse shows than when the industry is left to police itself, according to
a  U.S. Department of Agriculture report.
  Tennessee Walking Horses, popular throughout the South, are known for
their high-stepping gait, but some trainers try to enhance that through a
 practice called ''soring.'' It involves irritating a horse's forelegs so the horse
  raises its front legs high to take pressure off painful areas.
  The 1970 Horse Protection Act made it illegal for people to show sore
  horses, but the practice still exists.
  Inspectors, known as designated qualified persons, are hired by groups
that run walking horse shows to check for soring. USDA veterinarians drop in
on about 10% of the shows to make sure industry inspectors are doing their
 In 2000, the last calendar year for which the statistics were analyzed,
 inspectors detected 12 times the number of violations at shows attended by
 government vets than those without them.
  That's a bigger difference than in 1999 and in previous years, when
  inspectors detected about three times more violations at
government-attended shows than those without the federal oversight. 

''These statistics show that the DQP's performances are such that they write
 more cases when they know the government is looking,'' said Robin Lohnes,
executive director of the Washington-based American Horse Protection
Association Inc.
 ''It indicates very clearly that the DQP program is not working as well as
  it should be.''
  Lohnes' organization is suing the Department of Agriculture for ceding
too much authority to the industry to regulate itself against abuses.
 The USDA signed a three-year agreement last year with several horse
 industry organizations that clarifies the definition of a sore horse violation and
gives the organizations virtually all responsibility to punish abusers.
The largest of the horse industry organizations is the National Horse
Show Commission. The group's chairman, Craig Evans of Richmond, Va., said
people should look at the type of shows the government attends to better
understand why the number of violations might be higher when federal officials are
The government vets tend to go to the industry's largest shows, where the
stakes are higher and people are more likely to sore the horses, Evans
 ''My experience in life is people don't tend to violate the law when the
 potential gain is a nickel,'' Evans said.
 ''At the largest horse shows is where that return, if you get away with
it, is the greatest, and people feel the pressure to cheat.''
The owners of horses that win the big shows, such as the Tennessee
Walking Horse National Celebration each August in Shelbyville, can earn thousands
of dollars in stud fees and even more in horse sales, Evans said.
 USDA spokesman Jim Rogers said the agency goes to shows of various sizes but
 declined to be more specific.