Tennessean News (AP)- Horse abuse reported more when feds looking
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,
a U.S. Department of Agriculture report.
Tennessee Walking Horses, popular throughout the South, are known
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
horses, but the practice still exists.
Inspectors, known as designated qualified persons, are hired by
that run walking horse shows to check for soring. USDA veterinarians drop
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
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
executive director of the Washington-based American Horse Protection
''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
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
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,''
''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
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.