The organization that runs horse checks at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration has agreed to adopt the minimum penalty protocol proposed in a rule last year by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The penalties will be effective immediately and will be in force at this year’s Celebration, which started in Shelbyville on Wednesday, and at all subsequent SHOW-affiliated horse shows.
Shelbyville-based SHOW is a horse industry organization certified by the USDA to inspect horses and impose penalties on trainers for signs of abuse such as soring – the use of mechanical or chemical irritants on the lower legs of horses to encourage a higher gait. .
A SHOW spokesperson said the organization agreed with the use of penalties. “We did, however, disagree with the rule because we believed it would have a negative impact on the reform movement now taking hold in the industry.”
SHOW filed the lawsuit on June 26 last year, along with two other parties.
After a year of court hearings and meetings, the judge ruled in favor of the USDA and the validity of the minimum penalty protocol as part of certification with the department.
“SHOW had a very short amount of time to make a decision before The Celebration, but has decided to begin implementing the minimum penalty protocol at the event,” the spokesperson said.
After the judge’s July ruling, SHOW officials consulted with their legal counsel, advisors and the USDA prior to making their decision.
Celebration chief executive Mike Inman said: “We were put in a real time crunch with the judge’s ruling taking a year and coming out less than a month before the Celebration.
“In order to protect Celebration exhibitors, it was previously announced that anyone who had entered horses by the deadline of August 6 and who disagreed with the subsequent decision on the penalties could withdraw their entries and have their monies refunded prior to the show.
“We would have liked to have had more time to alert our exhibitors but unfortunately were not able to do that.”
In addition, SHOW also told the USDA it would not be appealing the judge’s decision, but pointed out there were two other parties to the law suit who still had the option to appeal.