Dear FOSH Member:

Thank you for writing. Actually, there are many reasons for supporting FOSH and we consider ourselves to be substantially different from other equine organizations in many ways. Distinguishing between the groups’ differences is not always easy; however, I will give it a try.

The Horse: The horse comes first with FOSH–not exhibitors and the show ring. It is the HORSE. Because our philosophy is about putting the horse first, we no longer allow two-year olds under saddle, manhole cover shoes and feet longer than 4 ½ inches. Our philosophy is different from most other equine showing and inspection organizations, and we take risks with these rules. Sometimes, it’s about doing the right thing and not what’s popular.

Alternative Programs: FOSH honors and respects all breeds of gaited horses. FOSH has developed programs where all gaited breeds can compete with each other on a level playing field. The FOSH Gaited Sport Horse Programs offer opportunities for gaited horses to participate in sports such as distance riding, dressage, equine agility, jumping, gymknaha, cross country, combined driving and eventing and be recognized internationally as gaited sport horses.

Soring: No other gaited horse showing organization fights soring to the extent of FOSH. We have spent thousands of dollars attending Horse Protection Act (HPA) meetings, researching soring/pain/ pressure technology, and fighting the evildoers tooth and nail on ideas they try to slide through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). We post the HPA suspensions and Horse Industry Organization (HIO) Meeting Minutes on our website; organized three Sound Horse Conferences; and track and quantify thousands of HPA violations (this is a tremendous use of our dollars and time) so we can issue press releases and keep the world informed.

Other groups offer a sound show ring; however, offering a sound show ring is required by law. If you want a sound venue in which to show, there are several organizations where one can exhibit. If you want to support an organization that actively works to stop soring, puts the natural, gaited horse first and created the Sound Horse Conference, then I firmly believe you should rejoin and support FOSH.

Trainers: Because the horse comes first, FOSH does not allow trainers on its Board. We realize there are sound, wonderful trainers who are FOSH members; however, we have observed that some organizations suffer turmoil through trainer battles.

There is also a perception that trainer Directors have a show ring benefit over others or push for rule changes that provide advantages to them and their clients at the expense of the horse. This could cause the FOSH “horse first” mission to become watered down so we avoid this conflict by disallowing trainers.

Judges: We believe recognition of the Horse Protection Act is important to the world’s perception of whether an organization is sound, and FOSH will not license anyone as a judge who has past HPA suspensions.

IJA Exhibition Rules: FOSH IJA rules are designed to showcase a more natural horse because the naturally moving horse will be more marketable and less likely to end up at auction or with an unhappy owner and home. Newcomers to gaited horses should not need gimmicks or special shoes for their horses to gait; however, they should not be a complete newbie to horses either.

Organizations that sponsor exhibition of horses trained with gimmicks are not actively promoting the natural horse, even if it is a sound show ring. Let’s face it, enough gaited horses have been discarded through the years because they have not gaited properly. So, let’s get to naturally moving horses that judges recognize and owners and novices can easily ride without specialized bits and manipulative shoeing.

Transparency: FOSH strives for transparency in its operations and member communications. Communication is a two way street, and we encourage you to communicate with us if you have questions and concerns. Our budget does not permit us to have paid employees so a response may take awhile to reach you as we are all volunteers and many of us have full-time positions.

Education: We publish our Sound Advocate magazine six times a year to share news with our members about themselves and provide information on equine welfare, training, exhibiting, sportsmanship in the ring, gait biomechanics, hoof care and shoes, dressage for gaited horses, gaited breeds, non-show events for gaited horses, the HPA, USDA and HIO happenings and much more.

Inspections: Our inspections are the gold standard in the industry and our DQPs want to ensure sore horses are not in the show ring. We pay close attention to the HPA regulations and use our experience to negotiate the Operating Plan when it is up for revision.

Promotion and Marketing: Aligning with FOSH provides a marketing advantage to trainers, breeders and their clients. FOSH is highly respected and nationally known for the strides it has taken in promoting sound horses and in the fight against soring. Our rules may not be a convenient nor a popular fit with the desires of trainers, breeders, exhibitors and clients; however, the rules can be justified when people realize that if humans do not address the welfare of the horse, no one will. This provides another marketing tool as individuals, breeders and trainers sell and promote their breeding philosophy and/or training methods and horses.

In closing, if someone is going to choose a gaited horse group to join, we want it to be FOSH so that we can continue to fight soring, promote the humanely trained and exhibited horse and offer alternative programs for the sound and natural gaited horse. We do not have breed registry revenue–we only have membership revenue and private donations so we appreciate your continued or new membership and sharing our news with others.