As a farrier, you don’t have to like Blake Primm. You don’t have to like how he and other Tennessee Walker farriers shoe their clients’ horses with padded packages. But if you are a horseshoer, you should be concerned about how the government investigated hoof-care practices in his case.
You can read an account of Primm’s story here. For brevity’s sake, here is the Cliff Notes version that’s pertinent to this post: the USDA raided a Tennessee Walking Horse trainer’s barn. While there, the USDA flagged a foot on a mare as a soring candidate because of the presence of Equilox impression material. The USDA requested Primm appear at the barn and pull the shoe. He did and explained what the package and Equilox combination was for. The USDA X-rayed and hoof tested the horse and couldn’t find any soreness. The USDA asked Primm to essentially shoe the horse the way it had been shod. In other words, everything was A-OK. Weeks later, Primm was charged with animal cruelty.
What should worry you is how poorly prepared the government was in its investigation. The farrier accompanying the USDA during the investigation reportedly couldn’t pull a padded package and shoe from the mare because “he only works on Quarter Horses.” That’s an accompanying expert?
Furthermore, the government didn’t know what impression material is. Primm had to explain what the material is and provided instructional material to the USDA on what it is.
After USDA veterinarians tested and X-rayed the mare, they said the horse was not being sored. Under the lead of the USDA agent, Primm was then asked to put the shoe and package back on the way it was found on the mare.
This is only my opinion, but it seems the government was so hell-bent on including a farrier in this investigation as a witness against Wheelon that it recklessly pursued Primm in hopes he’d help them land the trainer. I’d like to get the USDA’s point of view on this, but they didn’t return inquiries for an interview, so it remains only my opinion.
So why care about Blake Primm and the thousands of dollars he spent on his defense? After all, you very likely don’t shoe Walking Horses, which are in the crosshairs because of soring concerns. But maybe outsiders next target a breed/discipline you work with and an aspect of how they are shod or used. Morgans? Racing Thoroughbreds? Show jumpers? Cruelty is in the eye of the beholder.
Look at how absurd the investigation is from Primm’s point of view. Here’s three points to reiterate:
The USDA accompanying farrier doesn’t possess the knowledge and/or skillset to be considered an expert.
The USDA investigators know so little about footcare that they can’t identify or explain the usage of a product found on most farriers’ rigs, but want to investigate that product.
The USDA told Primm to return the shoe and package back to the foot, only to charge him with what the investigators told him to do.
So that is who will investigate any farrier in an animal cruelty case. They lack the expertise and competence, but have the resources of the U.S. government to fund that investigation and case against you. No legal defense fund exists for you as a practitioner. No group you belong to is prepared to aid in your defense. Good luck!
No, you don’t have to like Primm or package shoeing, but you should be concerned with how the U.S. government investigated a member of your trade. Actually, any citizen who worries about abuse of power by government should be concerned about this.