WHOA Board votes not to accept TWSHO Proposal

The Walking Horse Owners Association Board of Directors met December 27, 2012 and voted not to accept the proposal recently submitted from TWSHO as written. WHOA also voted to keep the lines of communication open and to work on a counterproposal.  Another topic of discussion was the National High Point Awards Banquet scheduled for February 9, 2013. The weekend will also include a Judges training seminar scheduled for February 8.  Anyone interested in applying should contact Tommy Hall at 615-484-8822.

WHOA Endorses One Organization Concept

The Walking Horse Owners Association's Board of Directors met on Thursday November 29, 2012. The Board voted to move forward and endorse
the one group, one voice concept in response to the request from TWSHO earlier this month.  As an organization that represents owners from all disciplines of the Tennessee Walking Horse, WHOA looks forward to working diligently toward the success of the One Organization concept.

Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY) Proposed Congressional Bill to Alter the Horse Protection Act

 Re: Horse Protection Act

 Dear Members,

This past week Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY) introduced a bill into congress to alter the Horse Protection Act. To date it has gained the support of 22 other legislators. In summary it seeks to:

1. Eliminate the use of a weighted shoe, pad, wedge, hoof band, or other device or material at a horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction.

2. Eliminate the use of an action device on any limb of a Tennessee Walking, a Racking, or a Spotted Saddle horse at a horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction.

There are several other amendments within this proposition that would negatively impact every discipline of the Tennessee Walking Show Horse. We urge you to contact your representative by visiting this website:


From this site you may read the bill in its entirety as well as instantly send feedback to your district representatives by simply entering your comments and home address. Please take the time to let your representatives know that you are strongly opposed to this bill as written.

WHOA Offers Special Holiday Gift Opportunity

We are excited to offer a special Holiday gift buying opportunity. The Peanut Roaster (member owned) now offers a 25% discount to benefit you and WHOA. Members or friends of WHOA members may order anytime and recieve a 25% discount on orders placed with The Peanut Roaster. The Discount code WHOA must be used at checkout for an instant 25% savings. For details go to www.peanut.com/whoa.

Slim Unscripted – now being printed!

Rodger Weaver's new book, Slim Unscripted is now being printed. Rodger has agreed to revert any profit (after his expense) to WHOA or to the Connie Bobo fund. Click here for the order form.


In this deeply compelling, true life story, a sheriff rids a corrupt county of inequities, along with his tag along son--Rodger Weaver. Reared in an Oklahoma jail, Rodger looked forward to his dad, the legendary Sheriff L.L. "Slim" Weaver, capturing an array of criminals, many of which made a deep impact and lasting impression on his life. Exposing fragmented lives and fascinating pasts, readers will get a nostaglic foothold on days gone by as they trail behind a sheriff with a heart as big as his stature. Sizing in at well over seven feet inclusive of boot heels and Stetson, Slim righted wrongs and gave second chances...all without a gun.

There is sadness as well. This true life narrative parallels Rodger's current personal battle, dealing with paralysis and incurable cancer, as he reflects on his childhood with a colorful and expressive account. Due to a tragic accident, after acting as a "good samaritan" to assist a fallen rider at a horse show, Rodger became paralyzed from the chest down and then learned he had untreatable cancer. Each chapter begins with his current diary entry after he was given a grim diagnosis on October Eve, 2010...two months to a year to live.

Click here for the order form.

HPA Final Rule – Penalty Protocol

United States Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
4700 River Road, Riverdale, MD 20737

July 19, 2012

Re: Final Rule, Docket #: APHIS-2011-0030

Dear Horse Industry Organizations and Associations:

On July 9, 2012, the final rule requiring horse industry organizations and associations (HIOs) to assess and enforce minimum penalties under the Horse Protection Act (HPA) became effective. APHIS notified the HIOs on June 8, 2012 that they must adopt the minimum penalty protocol as well as the appeals process described in this final rule and submit evidence of their compliance no later than July 9, 2012.

As of today, the following HIOs have submitted amended rulebooks showing that they will be following the new regulations: Walking Horse Owners Association (WHOA), National Walking Horse Association (NWHA), FOSH (Friends of Sound Horses), Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association (MFTHBA), International Walking Horse Association (IWHA), Oklahoma Walking Horse (OKA), Western International Walking Horse Association (WIWHA).

APHIS has not received amended rulebooks from the following HIOs: Sound Horse, Honest Judging, Objective Inspections, Winning Fairly (SHOW), Professional Regulation and Inspection for Dedicated Equestrians (PRIDE), Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association (SSHBEA), Heart of America Walking Horse Association (HAWHA), Kentucky Walking Horse Association (KWHA). Until the decertification process set forth in 9 C.F.R, § 11.7(g) is completed for the noncompliant HIOs, affiliation with them will not increase show management's liability. Please be advised, however, that USDA will continue its own efforts to enforce the HPA by conducting unannounced inspections at horse shows and focusing its inspection resources at unaffiliated shows and oversight of HIO Designated Qualified Persons (DQPs) that pose an increased risk of noncompliance with the HPA.


Chester A. Gipson
Deputy Administrator
Animal Care

Cc. Dr. Rachel Cezar; National Horse Protection Coordinator

Click here to view the original memo. 

USDA Mandated Penalty Structure

The new USDA mandated penalty structure for 2012 will go into effect July 9, 2012. Click here to download this post as a PDF document.


Type First Offense Second Offense Third and Subsequent Offenses
Bi-lateral Sore 1 year 2 years 4 years
Unilateral Sore 60 days 120 days 1 year
Scar Rule 2 weeks 60 days 1 year
Foreign Substance Pre-Show Dismissed from show
Foreign Substance Post-Show 2 weeks and dismissed from show (except heel toe ratio - no 2 weeks)
Shoeing Violation Dismissed from show
Unruly/Fractious Dismissed from class but can return for inspection later in show
Suspension Violation 6 months additional suspension


For the violations listed in paragraph (c) of this section that require a suspension, any individuals who are responsible for showing the horse, exhibiting the horse, entering or allowing the entry of the horse in a show or exhibition, selling the horse, auctioning the horse, or offering the horse for sale or auction must be suspended. This may include, but may not be limited to, the manager, trainer, rider, custodian, or seller, as applicable. In addition, if the owner allowed any activity listed in this paragraph, the owner must be suspended as well.

HIO’s are required to have an approved appeal Process. For all appeals, the appeal would have to be granted and the case heard and decided by the HIO or the violator would have to begin serving the penalty within 60 days of the date of the violation. This would mean that an appeal would need to be filed and a decision made with respect to that appeal within 60 days. HIOs are required to submit decision of all appeals to the Department within 30 days after completion of appeal.

USDA Publishes Final Rule to Provide Greater Protection for Horses

Action Will Require Horse Industry Organizations to Assess Minimum Penalties for Violations

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2012— The U.S. Department of Agriculture has amended regulations to require horse industry organizations that license certain people to assess minimum penalties for violations of the Horse Protection Act. The move by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which administers the Animal Welfare Act, is meant to help eliminate the inhumane practice of horse soring—a practice primarily used in the training of Tennessee Walking Horses, racking horses and related breeds to accentuate the horse’s gait. Horse soring may be accomplished by irritating or blistering a horse’s forelegs through the application of chemicals or the use of mechanical devices.

“Requiring minimum penalty protocols will ensure that these organizations and their designees remain consistent in their inspection efforts,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Rebecca Blue. “USDA inspectors cannot be present at every horse show and sale, so we work with industry organizations and their designees to ensure the wellbeing of these animals. Our goal, together, is to make horse soring a thing of the past.”

The regulations currently provide that such penalties will be set either by the horse industry organizations or by APHIS. This final rule does not change the penalties set forth in the Horse Protection Act, or HPA. Rather, it requires all APHIS-certified horse industry organizations, which have already been administering penalties as part of their role in enforcing the HPA, to make their penalties equal or exceed minimum levels. The penalties in this final rule increase in severity for repeat offenders to provide an additional deterrent effect for people who have already shown a willingness to violate the HPA.

The final rule will also help ensure a level playing field for competitors at all horse shows.  Previously, as some horse industry organizations have declined to issue sufficiently serious penalties to deter soring, those shows have attracted more competitors than shows where horse organizations have used APHIS’ minimum penalty protocols. With this final rule, competitors now know that inspections and enforcement will take place consistently at all shows they and their horses attend.

Designated qualified persons are trained and licensed by their horse industry organizations to inspect horses for evidence of soring or other noncompliance with the HPA at horse shows, exhibitions and sales. USDA certifies and monitors these inspection programs. For over 30 years, USDA has encouraged self-regulation in the industry by allowing individual organizations to assess penalties for soring violations. But a September 2010 Office of Inspector General audit found that APHIS’ program for allowing the industry’s self-regulation has not been adequate to ensure that these animals are not being abused. One of the recommendations in the audit report was for APHIS to develop and implement protocols to more consistently issue penalties with individuals who are found to be in violation of the HPA.

This final rule requires that suspensions for violating the HPA be issued to any individuals who are responsible for: showing a sore horse; exhibiting a sore horse; entering or allowing the entry of that horse in a show or exhibition; selling, auctioning or offering the horse for sale or auction; shipping, moving, delivering or receiving a sore horse with reason to believe that such horse was to be shown, exhibited, sold, auctioned or offered for sale. This includes the manager, trainer, rider, custodian, seller or owner of the horse, as applicable.

An individual who is suspended will not be permitted to show or exhibit any horse or judge or manage any horse show, horse exhibition or horse sale/auction for the duration of the suspension.

Walking horses are known for possessing a naturally high gait, but in order to be successful in competition their natural gait is often exaggerated.  The exaggerated gait can be achieved with proper training and considerable time; however, some horse exhibitors, owners, and trainers have chosen to use improper training methods to achieve their desired ends.

In September 2010, USDA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) found deficiencies in APHIS’ horse protection program. One of OIG’s recommendations was that APHIS develop and implement protocols to more consistently penalize individuals who have violated the Horse Protection Act. APHIS developed a minimum penalty protocol and, in a proposed rule published in the Federal Register on May 27, 2011, proposed requirements to ensure all horse industry organizations follow it.

With Agriculture Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, APHIS works tirelessly to create and sustain opportunities for America’s farmers, ranchers and producers. Each day, APHIS promotes U.S. agricultural health, regulates genetically engineered organisms, administers the Animal Welfare Act, and carries out wildlife damage management activities, all to safeguard the nation’s agriculture, fishing and forestry industries. In the event that a pest or disease of concern is detected, APHIS implements emergency protocols and partners with affected states and other countries to quickly manage or eradicate the outbreak. To promote the health of U.S. agriculture in the international trade arena, APHIS develops and advances science-based standards with trading partners to ensure America’s agricultural exports, valued at more than $137 billion annually, are protected from unjustified restrictions.

David Sacks    (301) 851-4079
Lyndsay Cole  (970) 494-7410

from http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/2012/06/hpa_finalrule.shtml

WHOA Responds to ABC World News & Nightline

In response to recent reports on ABC World News and Nightline, the Walking Horse Owners Association (WHOA) reaffirms its opposition to any violation of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) or any other mistreatment of any horse. WHOA continues to support and promote the use of humane training principles in all disciplines of the Tennessee Walking Horse, and strongly supports fair and equal enforcement of the HPA to ensure only sound horses that are in compliance with government regulations are permitted to be shown, exhibited, or sold.

WHOA has been in existence since 1976, representing the interests of all Walking Horse Owners throughout the country and takes a strong stance against horse abuse of any kind.  The owners are the ultimate custodians of the horse, and as the owners group, we condemn any inhumane training practice.  We have made that very clear and will continue to reinforce that with our owners, trainers, and all other industry stakeholders.   WHOA is committed to cooperating with other industry groups to continue to promote professionalism, education and enforcement throughout the industry to this end.