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Walking horse group ousts two

Members of the Kentucky Walking Horse Association have ousted from their board a controversial former president and vice president who stepped down after the state breeders' incentive fund began scrutinizing the organization last fall.

New KWHA President Joe Herald said last week that he is not worried about the breeders' incentive fund. "Everybody's got a positive outlook," Herald said. "I'm just looking for a good year."

The KWHA has applied to the state to again administer incentives for the walking horse breed. In the past two years, more than $700,000 in state tax money has been distributed to KWHA members. Recommendations for renewal could come at the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's meeting in February.

On Jan. 10, the KWHA at its annual meeting elected Herald, as well as other officers and board members.

Former President Earl Rogers Jr. and former Vice President Gary Oliver stepped down from the posts in mid-October but remained on the KWHA board.

After Herald-Leader articles about Rogers and Oliver, the state asked the KWHA and its affiliated breeders' incentive fund whether any recipients had had violations of the federal Horse Protection Act, which regulates horse shows and is designed to prevent abuses. At several Kentucky shows this summer, exhibitors left rather than subject their horses to federal inspections.

Rogers told state officials that no breeding fund payments had been made to Horse Protection Act violators, but the Herald-Leader and state investigations found 12 to 15 payments to violators, prompting a new racing commission regulation to explicitly prohibit such payments in the future.

Rogers also was investigated by the USDA for failing to protect federal veterinary inspectors at a 2006 horse show in Owingsville.

Oliver, a trainer in Garrard County, was implicated in the death of a walking horse in his care in 2004. The USDA has said it is looking into whether Oliver can be charged under the Horse Protection Act but has not taken any action. Oliver admitted in civil trial testimony last year to using banned substances on the horse's feet. The horse, Daisy's Ebony Generator, had to be euthanized. Oliver was sued in 2007 by the owner of a horse ordered to pay $3,500.

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