Updated January 14, 2013
Kentucky state Senator Robin Webb was ticketed for violations of the Horse Protection Act.
Two of her horses were found in violation of the “scar rule,” which led to their disqualification at an October horse show, according to the USDA’s violation list. The horses were inspected by PRIDE HIO inspectors.
According to HPA regulations, in order for a scar rule violation to be issued, there has to be bilateral evidence of abuse indicative of soring, or scars on both feet. Scar rule violations are detected by observation, and feeling the pastern skin.
Webb, an opponent of federal legislation to ban the use of pads and chains, told the Lexington Herald-Leader she did not abuse her animals. “I don’t sore my horses,” Webb said. “I love my horses, and my horses love me.”
Her horse trainer Donald Stamper was also ticketed for multiple violations.
The gaited horse industry came under scrutiny after undercover video of Jackie McConnell hit the national airwaves showing him soring, beating, and shocking horses with a cattle prod. McConnell pleaded guilty last year to a federal charge of conspiring to violate the HPA. His first violation was in 1979.
Webb told the Herald-Leader that the Tennessee walking horse industry has been “demonized,” in light of that video. “You don’t know what happened five minutes before or five minutes after. … These are animals that are very dangerous,” Webb said. “Every breed has training techniques that animal-rights groups find offensive.”
Webb was named TWHBEA 2012 Performance Horse Ambassador for her participation in USDA discussions. She spoke before the group last month at it’s annual meeting.
Two veterinary groups are calling for tougher penalties for those who sore walking horses – the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
“Soring is an unconscionable abuse of horses that is used to produce a high-stepping gait – the ‘Big Lick’ – and gain an unfair competitive advantage in the show ring,” said Doug Aspros, DVM, president of the AVMA. “For decades we’ve watched irresponsible individuals become more creative about finding ways to sore horses and circumvent the inspection process, and have lost faith in an industry that seems unwilling and/or unable to police itself.”