SHOW, the Horse Industry Organization connected with the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, responded Wednesday to last Friday's action by the USDA taking the first step to decertify SHOW inspectors. HIOs inspect horses for soring at shows.
The organization filed a lawsuit in June to stop the enforcement of the USDA's new mandatory penalty rule.
"SHOW supports strict penalties and frankly, has enforced stricter penalties than even the federal government, but this rule was written in a way that allows soring trainers to continue showing their horses, something to which we are totally opposed," said Dr. Stephen Mullins, president, in a press release issued by a horse industry group's public relations firm.
"The rule basically says, if you are soring horses, don't go where there are inspectors, go where there are not. This is unacceptable. How can the USDA say they are protecting horses and basically create an incentive for soring trainers to continue hurting their horses?"
SHOW officials say since its inception three years ago, it has instituted aggressive reforms to rid the system of soring trainers and protect the horse. Horses inspected by the group have achieved a 98.5 percent compliance rate with the Horse Protection Act, officials said.
"SHOW will not stop reforming the way it does business until it reaches 100 percent compliance, which includes fighting against government rules that will hinder the organization's effort to do so," the press release said.
"SHOW will defend its actions to the USDA and we are confident that we will prevail and in the future, partner with the USDA on reforms. In the meantime, the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration will be inspected by SHOW inspectors and not be impacted by the USDA's decision to begin this process."