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  1. #1
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    Default why is checking a horse for soring considered "overkill"

    OK...I'm truly NOT trying to troll or start a trainwreck, but I saw this on thehorse.com and didn't understand the comment that checking a horse both nights coming into and out of the ring was overkill.

    So, I'm asking instead of just deciding with no facts that I disagree...is the checking process somehow bothersome to the horse? Is there something in that check that could cause the horse to lose focus, and thus be unfair to the exhibitor who is not soring but now has a distracted or worried horse?

    I'm not at all familiar with the gaited world, except to know that soring has been an issue in the past and is something that isn't being tolerated so much anymore, so I'm trying to understand what the exhibitors' concerns were....

    edited to add: And, if the exhibitors' are not soring the horses, why would they be worried about the testing, as the article seems to indicate? Is that just incorrect reporting, or is the testing so capricious that you can get false positives?

    ------------

    Walking Horse Exhibitors Withdraw from Show
    by: Pat Raia
    July 10 2008, Article # 12242

    Hundreds of trainers withdrew their horses from competition at a major Tennessee Walking Horse show last weekend after USDA inspectors arrived on the scene to examine horses for violations of the Horse Protection Act.

    According to Earl Rogers Jr., president of the Kentucky Walking Horse Association, the four-day Owingsville Lions Club Horse Show drew more than 500 Tennessee Walking Horses, many of them contenders for the breed's championship title at the upcoming National Celebration in August. But the prospect of failing USDA testing brought the competition down to just 40 horses in the show's final two days.

    "If they had been found in violation, they would not be able to show at the Celebration," said Rogers, who also manages the Owingsville show.

    Federal inspectors examined horses for signs for soring--deliberate injuries to horses' legs and feet to achieve an exaggerated high-stepping gait--and took random swab samples from the horses' pasterns to detect the presence of irritants such as diesel fuel, or topical pain-masking agents such as lidocaine.

    One trainer was cited for soring, Rogers said. Others opted not to risk suspension, claiming inspectors were too aggressive in their examinations.

    "One horse was checked by the USDA both nights going into the ring and coming out," Rogers said. "That's overkill."

    Even so, Keith Dane, director of equine protection for the Humane Society of the United States, said trainers should expect inspections to continue at future shows, including the Celebration.

    "Swab sampling will be used at the Celebration, and so will thermal technology to detect soring as well," he said.

    Whether the promise of thorough inspections will lead to Celebration no-shows remains to be seen.

    "It's anybody's guess," Rogers said.



  2. #2

    Default

    Its not overkill, they are just complaining because it will make it harder to get away with it.



  3. #3
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    Default

    I've spent a good bit of time in the ring on Walkers and I must say I WISH every discipline was as cautious and they are!! Especialy after the things I learned people do to get an edge in the ring on Gaited horses. It is NOT just soring! I have seen some nasty stuff and seen people get busted for it; people doing these things to the horses there children would be riding. All the honest and Good To Go Gaited people I know are proud of how cautious the governing bodies are and treat it as just what it is, part of the show.

    A bit off key: If you haven't been to a TWH show GO TO ONE!!!!! They are the most fun I have ever had showing and watching a show! Where else do you get to work on the rail with a live organist playing carousel music as you show?



  4. #4
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    Feb. 6, 2003
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    Default

    From 500 horses down to 40?????? 460 horses left?
    Even if it is overkill...if you haven't sored then why leave? Is the answer because even those not soring are protesting? If so, what? Are they leaving in protest to help protect those who do sore? I'd assume they'd be thrilled to catch whoever is cheating.
    That's a HUGE amount of horses to leave.
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte



  5. #5
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    Default

    I found the numbers surprising, too.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2004
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    Default

    You turn on the lights, and the roaches run.

    It's overkill when they're caught.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 17, 2001
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    Auckland, New Zealand
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hopeful Hunter View Post
    "One horse was checked by the USDA both nights going into the ring and coming out," Rogers said. "That's overkill."
    The article didn't say checking for soring was necessarily "overkill", but checking a horse going into and coming out of the ring is. I would tend to agree - what exactly can a competitor do in the ring that would change the horse's status by the time it left the ring. BTW, I am all for the checking, but there is common sense and there is silliness.



  8. #8
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    Mar. 4, 2007
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    Western Washington
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hopeful Hunter View Post
    "One horse was checked by the USDA both nights going into the ring and coming out," Rogers said. "That's overkill."
    If this quote is accurate, and this particular horse was clean on all FOUR inspections, I would agree that it's overkill. If I were a trainer or owner, I would wonder if the record-keeping was that bad, or the testing that unreliable. I would hope people would agree that the horse couldn't be sored while showing. So if it was OK heading in the first night, it shouldn't be checked on its way out. If it tested positive on the way in, I could see testing on way out to verify original findings. But it's tested negative the first 3 times, why do the fourth test?

    If the testing is that unreliable why go through it?



  9. #9
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    Default

    I'm not positive but I would guess checking a horse going into the ring and then again coming out of it would be to see if there was something missed on the way into the ring that irritated the horse during it's performance so might have been missed before performing. Not all performance enhancers are soring with caustic substances I don't think. There's also pressure shoeing or things between the shoes and pads or other mechanical things that can be done...and I don't think the USDA removes shoes or pads to check so might check for caustic substances going in and mechanical issues coming out that may leave signs they were used after the horse performs in the ring.
    That would cover more than caustic substances and maybe it makes others more nervous if they forego the caustic soring because they're being checked and go with something not so easily detected that might be found after the horse performed?
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug. 11, 2003
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    Eastern Shore of Virginia
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    Thumbs up

    I was shocked at the numbers too. Then again, one year the top judges' horses were found sored! If they don't like the USDA there, why do they continue to give them a reason to be there?

    THANK YOU USDA!



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct. 26, 2007
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    San Jose, Ca
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    Default

    Those numbers!! Really? 400+ walked away from their show fees?

    To play devil's advocate, I agree, it doesn't make too much sense to check the horses AGAIN after they come out of the ring.

    But that said... Thank God some one has stepped up to protect these horses! Its just beyond me how some one could do some of the things that have been done in the walker world.

    I mean, don't we all own horses because we LOVE horses? When it comes to my horse I am still a starry eyed kid. I think about my horse all the time like a silly grade school crush. I just couldn't imagine inflicting pain upon her (or any horse I have ever owned) in order to win some damned ribbons.

    And for all the "they are picking on us!" I have read from the walker world, you brought this on yourself!!!!

    And I wouldn't mind for one moment if ALL sports were regulated in this manner? Testing, maybe not for soreing, but also drugs, lameness etc. I know it would be a bit of a hassle, but wouldn't it be nice to know you are on an even playing field when you step into the show ring?

    -- alas, the money would never be there for testing of this scale.

    Edit to Add
    Oh... good point, I could see how pressure shoeing could result in a horse entering the ring sound, and leaving sore..
    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I'm not positive but I would guess checking a horse going into the ring and then again coming out of it would be to see if there was something missed on the way into the ring that irritated the horse during it's performance so might have been missed before performing. Not all performance enhancers are soring with caustic substances I don't think. There's also pressure shoeing or things between the shoes and pads or other mechanical things that can be done...and I don't think the USDA removes shoes or pads to check so might check for caustic substances going in and mechanical issues coming out that may leave signs they were used after the horse performs in the ring.



  12. #12
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    Default

    Imagine this scene: the warm up area is immediately outside the arena, so it's laid out like an unbalanced 8 : the top is huge (arena) the bottom is tiny ('inspection area'). Said inspection area is covered in grooms, etc on the ground with grooming cloths, buckets, brushes, etc...there's tons of noise and commotion and UP UP UP horses coming and going and dark corners.

    I've seen horses pass inspection, get sent off to the side to wait for their large class, and the 'fixin' come into play at the last minute. Like ketchup on fries, folks, every horse needs just one more dash of the good stuff.

    sickening



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb. 12, 2006
    Location
    VA
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    413

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Appsolute View Post
    And for all the "they are picking on us!" I have read from the walker world, you brought this on yourself!!!!

    Please understand...it's not everyone. Those numbers were frightening and it saddens me as a "Walking Horse person" to see this stuff go on. There are certainly bad apples in every bunch. Some of us do our training with wet saddle pads, others do it with juice.
    Good Judgement comes from Experience. Alot of that comes from Bad Judgement.




  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov. 12, 2001
    Location
    Lemont, Il, USA
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    Default

    Well, it sure looks like 460 out of 500 exhibitors support those who juice.



  15. #15
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    Aug. 11, 2000
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    Question

    I was old by a TWH breeder in the the 80ies that once e horse has been sored; they are no longer eligible to be shown; Is that that not so?
    breeder of Mercury!

    remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans



  16. #16
    Join Date
    May. 12, 2008
    Posts
    24

    Wink

    It is unfair to make harsh criticisms against people when you do not know the whole story. Just because some refused to be inspected does not indicate they were guilty, there is more to the story than has been reported. HSUS and their like would have you believe those who left were guilty, that is not the case!

    The reason so many left the show grounds is as follows:
    The government started using a new sniffing machine that picks up traces of illegal substances on the horses' pasterns. Sounds good up front, but let's keep talking. The governmental mandate for TWHs is that NOTHING be on the horse above the hoof except approved lubricants, ie vaseline, glycerine or baby oil. The "sniffer" is supposedly so sensitive that it picks up minute traces of any substance (down to the molecular level). According to the mandate, any grooming substance, insect spray, or any substance typically used on a horse in preparation for showing is illegal. The consequences of being found with an illegal substance on your horse's pasterns could be severe, including but not limited to massive legal fees, fines and suspensions.

    Now, suppose you are totally innocent of mistreating your horse and have passed all the government's vet's examinations. BUT fumes from a truck, errant fly spray, hoof polish, show sheen, or even your cologne are found on your horse's pasterns by this new sniffing device. According to the law, you are in violation of the statute and guilty of having a sore horse.

    If you had not abused your horse, common sense would tell you that you had nothing to worry about, yet would you be willing to upset your entire life by being a guinea pig for a new machine? If your income were dependent upon training and showing horses, would you want to be among the first to be sniffed, knowing that it was so easily possible for any number of errant chemical smells to be on your horse?

    The overkill of physically checking horses comes from the practice of multiple government vets often checking horses and palpating their pasterns repeatedly for sometimes excessive amounts of time. If the horse moves or flinches during these exams, it is automatically considered sore. How many horses do you know that will stand with a hoof up for extended periods of time while being poked and prodded without eventually reacting? Some horses have been inspected by as many as six to eight vets on a single occasion.

    Let's say there are six vets at a show. If five of these examiners palpate a horse, find it sound during their prodding, then the sixth vet lifts a hoof, starts digging repeatedly in the pastern with a fingernail and the horse moves, that horse is automatically considered sore. Does this sound fair to you? Would you want your horse to be treated in such a fashion? Would you want your reputation abused when you had done nothing wrong? Many of the tickets for infractions have been this absurd.

    Compliance with the HPA is around 98%. How many other disciplines can say the same? Virtually ALL TWH people are for the total abolition of any form of abuse, be it from trainers or owners, as well as governmental agents who themselves abuse horses during the inspection process. Before we throw stones, remember, the government rarely gets anything right. AND your breed or discipline could be next!



  17. #17
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    Apr. 30, 2008
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jdmcg View Post
    It is unfair to make harsh criticisms against people when you do not know the whole story. Just because some refused to be inspected does not indicate they were guilty, there is more to the story than has been reported. HSUS and their like would have you believe those who left were guilty, that is not the case!

    The reason so many left the show grounds is as follows:
    The government started using a new sniffing machine that picks up traces of illegal substances on the horses' pasterns. Sounds good up front, but let's keep talking. The governmental mandate for TWHs is that NOTHING be on the horse above the hoof except approved lubricants, ie vaseline, glycerine or baby oil. The "sniffer" is supposedly so sensitive that it picks up minute traces of any substance (down to the molecular level). According to the mandate, any grooming substance, insect spray, or any substance typically used on a horse in preparation for showing is illegal. The consequences of being found with an illegal substance on your horse's pasterns could be severe, including but not limited to massive legal fees, fines and suspensions.

    Now, suppose you are totally innocent of mistreating your horse and have passed all the government's vet's examinations. BUT fumes from a truck, errant fly spray, hoof polish, show sheen, or even your cologne are found on your horse's pasterns by this new sniffing device. According to the law, you are in violation of the statute and guilty of having a sore horse.

    If you had not abused your horse, common sense would tell you that you had nothing to worry about, yet would you be willing to upset your entire life by being a guinea pig for a new machine? If your income were dependent upon training and showing horses, would you want to be among the first to be sniffed, knowing that it was so easily possible for any number of errant chemical smells to be on your horse?

    The overkill of physically checking horses comes from the practice of multiple government vets often checking horses and palpating their pasterns repeatedly for sometimes excessive amounts of time. If the horse moves or flinches during these exams, it is automatically considered sore. How many horses do you know that will stand with a hoof up for extended periods of time while being poked and prodded without eventually reacting? Some horses have been inspected by as many as six to eight vets on a single occasion.

    Let's say there are six vets at a show. If five of these examiners palpate a horse, find it sound during their prodding, then the sixth vet lifts a hoof, starts digging repeatedly in the pastern with a fingernail and the horse moves, that horse is automatically considered sore. Does this sound fair to you? Would you want your horse to be treated in such a fashion? Would you want your reputation abused when you had done nothing wrong? Many of the tickets for infractions have been this absurd.

    Compliance with the HPA is around 98%. How many other disciplines can say the same? Virtually ALL TWH people are for the total abolition of any form of abuse, be it from trainers or owners, as well as governmental agents who themselves abuse horses during the inspection process. Before we throw stones, remember, the government rarely gets anything right. AND your breed or discipline could be next!

    hmmmmmmmmmmm It sure sounds as if you are trying to justify the protests to me. The flame suit is zipped up and I'll take any criticism for my post, but I've been around enough TWH people to know what I'm talking about. I think there is a "good ole boy" system in place in this type of TWH shows, and they support each other. It is a well known fact that soring continues on TWH (and other breeds although not as well known) and until the practice is WHIPED OUT inspections must continue. If it takes inspecting them coming into the ring, going out of the ring, in their stall, whatever we have to do. We have many dedicated TWH people who use the natural gait and a dedicated work ethic to train, not chemicals-pads-chains. Go natural or stay home.
    Just because I talk slow doesn't mean that I actually AM slow.



  18. #18
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    Aug. 25, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by stryder View Post
    If this quote is accurate, and this particular horse was clean on all FOUR inspections, I would agree that it's overkill. If I were a trainer or owner, I would wonder if the record-keeping was that bad, or the testing that unreliable. I would hope people would agree that the horse couldn't be sored while showing. So if it was OK heading in the first night, it shouldn't be checked on its way out. If it tested positive on the way in, I could see testing on way out to verify original findings. But it's tested negative the first 3 times, why do the fourth test?

    If the testing is that unreliable why go through it?
    The approved method of testing for a sored horse is palpation of the foot by hand. It is reasonably accurate when correctly done.

    To get a horse through inspection after it has been sored up for the show it is not uncommon to apply a topical, short acting analgesic to control the pain while the inspector does their job. The pain killer then wears off and the horse reacts to the pain, "flinching" and giving the desired front end action. This is why all horses are inspected entering and the top horses inspected leaving the ring.

    Soring up is seldom done on site, but it's not unheard of. These folks often combine stupidity and chutzpah. For this reason each horse is inspected for each class.

    Show management hires the DQP (inspectors) and as one might pick a judge with a certain leaning management might also pick DQPs with levels of competance and attention to detail that "fit" with the expected exhibitors.

    Different handlers also can affect the outcome of an inspection. It is a violation of the HPA to "steward" a horse (i.e., inflict pain with the bit to distract the horse from the pain in its foot). Some handlers are better at "stealth stewarding" than others. Some DQPs are stricter than others.

    If a horse is found to be in violation of the HPA then the owner, exhibitor, and trainer will be issued citations. This is civil, not a criminal, citation and after notice and hearing if found guilty will be suspended from exhibiting, transporting, training, etc. horses for a period of time (from one year to life).

    Frankly the numbers are a surprise. Either there were a LOT of "dirty" horses there or it could be some sort of "agreed exit" to put pressure on the USDA. You can bet that Sen. McConnell will hear from the locals about the rabid vets from USDA "ruining" this charitable event and all the good work that won't be done because the event did not generate the money that was expected. These people are quite politically savvy.

    The Walking Horse Association even has its own PAC.

    Combine this with the crackdown at the Celebration a while back and maybe the Feds have finally decided to get serious about the whole thing. It's only been 40 years since the HPA became law. Sort of gives new meaning to the phrase "all deliberate speed."

    G.



  19. #19
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    Oct. 8, 2002
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    Default

    If the sniffer found a "positive" wouldn't they do further testing to find out what substance they were picking up?

    I don't know, it just seems to me that if you have nothing to hide, it wouldn't be a problem. Have any actual, documented cases occured where something like cologne or fly spray actually caused someone to be eliminated or suspended?
    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

    My CANTER blog.



  20. #20
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by wingedmare View Post
    Where else do you get to work on the rail with a live organist playing carousel music as you show?
    At a Morgan show
    Founder, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous
    Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse.



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