Foreign Substance Federal Regulation


All substances are prohibited on the extremities of any Tennessee Walking Horse or Racking Horse while being shown, exhibited, or offered for sale at any horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction, except lubricants such as glycerine, petrolatum and mineral oil or mixtures thereof.

In 2008, the USDA began testing and reporting foreign substances found via swabbing the pastern area of Tennessee Walking Horses. Although the USDA stated repeatedly that it would be testing for substances it considered to be “irritating, numbing and masking agents”, it failed to release a list of substances that met that consideration or at what level.

In theory, still testing for irritants or substances that can mask irritants should be a good thing.

In reality, the USDA uses gas chromography testing a 1 ppm, or one part per million. One part per million is one drop of a substance in a 13 gallon barrel. Is there any substance readily available to the public that is an irritant at 1 drop in a 13 gallon barrel?

In reality, the USDA tests for all substances, not just irritants or substances that can mask irritants. The test results published as foreign substance violations include horrible sounding substances such as Isopropyl palmitate and myristate. Isopropyl palmitate and myristate is found in shampoos, including shampoos for human use, as well as Palmolive soap. Of course there’s the routine equine products like fly spray and show sheen that are illegal to use. Sound stupid? Just wait. Hydrocarbons are commonly found and are illegal. Guess what produces hydrocarbons? Grass. Yes, grass. The number one foreign substance that never ceases to bewilder me – dirt. Yes, dirt.

If this absurd testing, at one drop in a 13 gallon barrel, using federal tax dollars wasn’t bad enough, just wait. There’s more.

Everyone who has a horse test positive, even for fly spray, and there are hundreds if not thousands at this point, gets issued USDA APHIS Form 7030, an official Letter of Warning. Somewhere, back in the annals of a federal building (I imagine a basement) are people churning out Letters of Warning to horse owners who used fly spray on their horses!!

As ridiculous as this sounds, as big of a waste of tax dollars as this is, the worst part is the USDA’s Letters of Warning are unconstitutional. The constitutional rights of hundreds of horse owners have been denied. Specifically, the right to due process. You see, the Letters of Warning clearly state that you have violated the Horse Protection Act/Federal Regulations. You are guilty, but we’re only going to give you a Letter of Warning, this time. There is no determination of guilt by a Court of Law or Administrative Court. There is no appeal. You are simply guilty.

As if all of this is not horrific enough for any American citizen to bear, it doesn’t end there.

Animal rights activist like the Humane Society of the United States and even some equine groups routinely point to these foreign substance “violations” as non-compliance by the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. They use these “violations” and refer to them as proof of an epidemic of soring within the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.

While the Horse Protection Act is a good viable law that should be easily enforced, this federal regulation concerning foreign substances is mind boggling to any logical person. Enforcement to date has only been the unconstitutional Letters of Warning, most of which are sent 12-36 months post show.

Is this federal regulation good for enforcing the Horse Protection Act and helping to end soring? No. Absolutely not. It is flawed, completely flawed.