The following letter is in response to the United States Department of Agriculture's request for comments on the proposed horse protection rule regarding the Licensing of Designated Qualified Persons and Other Amendments that appeared in the Federal Register on July 26, 2016 ("proposed rule")(81 FR 49112). Founded in 1968, the United Professional Horsemen's Association ("UPHA") represents thousands of horse trainers and other professionals, including 21 regional chapters that comprise all 50 states and Canada. The UPHA is dedicated to bettering the conditions of those engaged in the pursuit of various equine related activities, to supporting research aimed at improving the horse as a species, and to promoting the development of a higher degree of efficiency for its members in their efforts to improve the general condition of the show horse industry.

On behalf of its membership, UPHA appreciates the opportunity to provide comments and additional information to assist APHIS in its development of the proposed rule to ensure it protects horse welfare, reflects the needs of the show horse industry and is consistent with the intent and language of the Horse Protection Act ("HPA"). While the UPHA is supportive of APHIS' intention to protect the integrity of the inspection system and strengthen existing requirements to prevent the cruel and inhumane practice of soring, UPHA cannot support the proposed rule as drafted. UPHA is concerned that the proposed rule exceeds the Agency's statutory authority under the HPA and contains a number of provisions with vague language that may result in confusion, uncertainty and unintended detrimental impacts to trotting breeds that have no history of soring. To prevent these outcomes, UPHA believes that the following modifications and clarifications must be made to ensure the proposed rule remains within the confines of the statutory authority granted by Congress, is easily understood by UPHA's members, and is consistently applied by APHIS: Please click on the following link to read the entire response from UPHA and forward the letter ASAP to your Representatives and Senators: RE- Docket No. APHIS-2011-0009 Horse Protection
Dear UPHA Member:

What is the Horse Protection Act?


The Horse Protection Act (HPA) was passed in 1970 by Congress to eliminate the practice of soring by prohibiting the showing or selling of sored horses.

 The HPA outlines procedures for inspections at horse shows and sales for compliance with the HPA conducted by Designated Qualified Persons (DQP) or Horse Protection Inspectors (HPI) who can find a horse in non-compliance and disqualify the entry from competition.

Originally the HPA specifically mentioned three breeds of horses, Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses, and Spotted Saddlehorses.

Under the Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS), which is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), proposed changes to the HPA , released on July 26, 2016, language has been changed in reference to what breeds the HPA applies to, reading “Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses, and related breeds”. The language, in some areas, even goes as far to say “Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses, or related breeds of horses that perform with an accentuated gait that raises concerns about soring.”

Additionally, under the changes to the HPA, horse show management assumes the responsibility to have 2 Horse Protection Inspectors (HPI), and a farrier designated to assist with inspections, maintain all records for 6 years (instead of the current 90 days) and provide a designated inspection area (with APHIS regulated specifications) free of charge. APHIS suggests these costs be passed down to the exhibitors in order to not put a financial strain on the horse show.


What this means to you…

If the APHIS proposed changes to the HPA are enacted, Saddlebreds, Morgans, Hackneys, Friesians, and any other breed of horse that APHIS chooses, can be subject to the regulations of the HPA if APHIS feels that there is evidence of soring taking place in that particular breed. In addition to being no longer able to use pads, wedges, or bands in the breed’s shoeing, this will open up said breed to random inspections at horse shows where HPIs, who under the new amendments to the HPA, are trained by APHIS, and are not required to be veterinarians or farriers, that will determine if an exhibitor’s horse is sore and disqualify it from competition.


What can I do?


Report to Regulations.gov search “Horse Protection Act”, and click on the comment box next to the heading “Horse Protection; Licensing of Designated Qualified Persons and other Amendments” and leave a comment.


The comment period ends September 26, 2016.


For additional information and comment suggestions please go to:






       Many members have questions regarding the proposed changes to the Horse Protection Act (HPA). 

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Based in Lexington, KY, the UPHA is an association of professional horsemen and horsewomen who have united to improve the show horse industry and to define and clarify their professionalism within the industry. Since its inception in 1968, the UPHA has expanded into nineteen regional chapters that comprise all fifty states and Canada. The predominant breeds represented by UPHA members are the American Saddlebred, the Morgan Horse, the Hackney Pony and the National Show Horse. From the beginning, UPHA programs have benefited not only the individual horse person, but the entire horse show industry.


The UPHA regularly works with the United States Equestrian Federation, The American Horse Council and the various breed organizations to promote safety, ensure fairness, improve conditions, increase attendance and improve the overall horse show experience for owners, trainers, grooms, and spectators alike. In addition to its core programs, the UPHA seeks to foster communication and mutually beneficial relationships between all participants in the horse show industry.

For over forty years the United Professional Horsemen's Association has given a united voice to the individual trainer while recognizing his/her unique capabilities and talent. We invite you to learn more about UPHA's goals and programs, and would welcome your membership into our association.
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