The secretary of agriculture has disqualified John Young of Dalton, Ga., from "showing or exhibiting any horse, judging or managing any horse show, horse exhibition or horse sale or auction for a period of two years. . .," according to the Sept. 25 Federal Register (page 63537).
Three years ago, on Aug. 31, 1977, Young was accused of having exhibited what is known in the business as a "sore" horse. That's one whose front legs have been "altered," and Agriculture Department employee said the other day, "to exaggerate the gait" and thus make him show better in competitions for Tennessee walking horses, primarily.
Under an amendment to the Horse Protection Act, passed four years ago, Agriculture Department veterinarians must examine the alleged "sore" horse and investigators then must go out, make inquiries and determine the circumstances.
In Young's case, there were two alleged violations. The second, on Aug. 28, 1978, came almost a year after the first. Both, by the way, occurred at Tennessee walking horse competitions in Shelbyville, Tenn.
Since that time, both the vet reports and those of the investigators have been working their way up the bureaucratic ladder at state and Washington levels. A hearing on the matter was set. But Young didn't even respond to the hearing notice, so the secretary last month published his disqualification order. Should Young violate the order and, for example, show a horse, he could be subject to a civil fine of up to $3,000.
There have been only six disqualifications since the amendment establishing the procedures to investigate "soring" went into effect.
Congress in 1976 armed the agriculture secretary not only with authority to become, in effect, the high commissioner of this particular sport, but also with $500,000 to run the investigations.