Humane Society Of U.S. Applauds USDA For Finalizing Regulations To Strengthen Enforcement Horse Protection Act

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the release of its final rule requiring uniform mandatory minimum penalties for violations of the federal Horse Protection Act. USDA-certified horse industry organizations operate alongside the USDA to enforce the Horse Protection Act by conducting inspections at Tennessee Walking Horse competitions. The final rule also clarifies that the agency can decertify a horse industry organization for any failure to comply with the regulations.

This is a much-needed step to strengthen enforcement of the act, which prohibits the showing and transporting of horses whose legs have been “sored” through the application of painful chemicals or other painful training methods to force them to perform an artificially high-stepping gait for show competitions. The HSUS thanked Secretary Tom Vilsack and USDA for taking this action to protect horses.

“We know that soring is not limited to a ‘few bad apples,’ and we applaud USDA’s decision to crack down on violators across the industry,” said Wayne Pacelle, president & CEO of The HSUS. “Congress should take further steps to give USDA the tools it needs to eradicate cruel soring practices once and for all.” 

In 2010, The HSUS and other horse industry and animal protection groups filed a legal petition with USDA seeking regulatory changes to improve enforcement of the Horse Protection Act – including the implementation of a mandatory penalty structure.  When the agency announced its intention to require mandatory penalties, several of the largest HIOs refused to comply and have continued to dole out penalties indiscriminately. In May 2011, USDA proposed a rule to make the change official. 

There is evidence revealing that soring of Tennessee Walking horses and other related breeds remains prevalent throughout this industry despite the decades-old law. A recent undercover investigation by The HSUS led to a 52 count indictment of Jackie McConnell, a well-known Tennessee Walking Horse trainer, and three of his associates. McConnell pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to violate the HPA after he was caught on video soring and violently abusing horses. At the time of the investigation, McConnell was under a five-year federal disqualification from participating in horse shows – yet continued to train horses and get them into the show ring.  

Between 2010 and 2011, HIOs cited each of the top 20 trainers in the industry’s Riders Cup point program for violations of the HPA—with a total of 164 citations between them. Of the violations recorded, the HIOs only issued penalties for 25 percent, most of which were mere two-week suspensions from showing. Even more disturbing, less than 30 percent of those penalties were actually served and some trainers were allowed to serve multiple penalties simultaneously.

Officials said these statistics illustrate that soring is still practiced among the top ranks in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and that the industry’s current penalty structure has failed to deter trainers from abusing horses in violation of federal law. The law needs to be substantially strengthened in order to end a practice that has been illegal yet has continued unabated for more than 40 years.

2010/2011 HPA Violation Records:

  • Of the top 20 trainers  participating in the industry’s Riders Cup point program in 2011, 100 percent were cited by horse industry organizations for violations of the Horse Protection Act within the past two years
  • In total, 164 violations were cited for these trainers
  • Under the current penalty structure in place for the largest horse industry organizations, only 25 percent (41 out of 164) of the violations called for penalties, most of which were only two-week suspensions
  • Only 12 of those 41 penalties were actually served—and some were served simultaneously by one trainer.

In addition to the top 20 trainers, there were 195 violations of the Horse Protection Act cited for trainers ranking from #21 – #74. 42 out of 53 of those trainers were cited during this two year-period.


Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

County Republicans Meet Behind Closed Doors At Annual Lincoln Day Dinner

Upcoming City Council Agenda For Tuesday


Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: BAILEY, ERICA DENISE 1612 E 12TH ST CHATTANOOGA, 37404 Age at Arrest: 33 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga ASSAULT --- BILLINGSLY, ... (click for more)

Several of Hamilton County and Tennessee’s Republican elites met for their annual Lincoln Day Dinner on Friday night in Chattanooga. Reporters were not allowed inside the Westin hotel, where ... (click for more)

Here is the upcoming City Council agenda for Tuesday: I. Call to Order by Chairman Henderson. II. Pledge of Allegiance/Invocation (Councilman Byrd). III. Special Presentation. ... (click for more)



Breaking News

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: BAILEY, ERICA DENISE 1612 E 12TH ST CHATTANOOGA, 37404 Age at Arrest: 33 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga ASSAULT --- BILLINGSLY, DEVONTAE LAMAR 718 N GREENWOOD AVE Chattanooga, 37404 Age at Arrest: 26 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga HEADLIGHTS ON MOTOR VEHICLES (INCLEMENT WEATHER) VIOLATING ... (click for more)

County Republicans Meet Behind Closed Doors At Annual Lincoln Day Dinner

Several of Hamilton County and Tennessee’s Republican elites met for their annual Lincoln Day Dinner on Friday night in Chattanooga. Reporters were not allowed inside the Westin hotel, where Governor Bill Lee, County Mayor Jim Coppinger, county Republican party chairman Arch Trimble IV, Commissioner Greg Martin, and others were in attendance. Chattanooga mayor Tim Kelly ... (click for more)

Opinion

Though The Last Option, Recycling Should Provide Some Income

In 1989 when I initiated and coordinated Recycle Signal, the goal wasn’t to move materials around so we could excuse our over-consumptive buying habits. Volunteers for Recycle Signal had parents and grandparents who lived through the Great Depression. We were brought up to appreciate the roof over our head and daily food on the table. We gave thanks before we ate. In designing ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

We were gifted with some great jokes on engineers this week and in case you ever wonder what is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers, please know that mechanical engineers build weapons while civil engineers build targets! Welcome to this week’s edition of The Saturday Funnies was our eyes turned towards August. We tried to make the quiz a little ... (click for more)

Sports

Vols' Velus Jones, Jr. Named To Paul Hornung Award Watch List

The Louisville Sports Commission announced Thursday morning that Tennessee redshirt senior wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. is one of 57 college football players selected to the watch list for the 2021 Paul Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse. The Paul Hornung Award is given annually by the Louisville Sports Commission (LSC) to the most versatile player in major college ... (click for more)

UTC Announces Scrappy Switchback Program To Aid Community

Earlier this week, the Chattanooga Mocs marketing & ticketing operation announced the re-launch of the Mocs Merchants program. Today comes news of another initiative aimed at helping our community and serviced by the philanthropy of our alumni, fans and donors. The Scrappy Switchback is initiated in 2020-21. It was developed to provide Mocs fans an opportunity to give ... (click for more)