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New bill aims to end soring of Tennessee Walking Horses

The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act creates tighter restrictions on shoeing and tougher penalties for violators.

April 13, 2013

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Tennessee Walking Horse Edited Press Release

The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners joined together on Friday in support of the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (PAST), H.R. 1518. The bill seeks to eliminate the abusive act of soring horses by improving the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s enforcement capabilities and strengthening penalties against violators, among other provisions.

Soring is the intentional infliction of pain in Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses, and Racking Horses to produce a high-stepping, unnatural gait. Despite being illegal for more than 40 years, insufficiencies in funding and other resources needed for enforcement at the federal level have contributed to a culture of corruption where this abusive, unethical practice remains prevalent in shows and auctions in certain pockets of the country.

"Soring of horses is an inhumane practice that veterinarians are, unfortunately, still seeing. It has crippling physical and mental effects on horses,” said Dr. Douglas Aspros, veterinarian and AVMA president. "It’s sad when winning a show takes precedence over the health and welfare of the horse. As veterinarians, we simply can’t stand by and allow horses to be abused. We encourage Congress to quickly pass H.R. 1518 and put an end to the inhumane and unethical practice of soring, once and for all.”

Specifically, H.R. 1518:

Makes the actual act of soring, or directing another person to cause a horse to become sore, illegal, whereas the original act only banned showing, transporting, or auctioning a horse that was sore, not the actual practice;

Prohibits the use of action devices (e.g., boot, collar, chain, roller, or other device that encircles or is placed upon the lower extremity of the leg of a horse) on any limb of Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses, or Racking Horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions and bans weighted shoes, pads, wedges, hoof bands, or other devices that are not used for protective or therapeutic purposes;

Increases civil and criminal penalties for violations, and creates a penalty structure that requires horses to be disqualified for increasing periods of time based on the number of violations;

Allows for permanent disqualification from the show ring after three or more violations; and

Requires the USDA (rather than the current structure of horse industry self-regulation) to license, train, assign and oversee inspectors to enforce the Horse Protection Act.

"Soring is one of the most significant equine welfare issues in the United States," said AAEP President Dr. Ann Dwyer. "Federal legislation is the only action that will end this decades-long abuse of horses, and we urge all within the veterinary and horse-owning communities to join us in supporting this bill’s passage.”

For more information on the AVMA and AAEP’s efforts to end soring, visit the AVMA's Soring Resource Page.

Further Reading
Soring violators now face stricter penalties
Why can't we stop soring?

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New bill aims to end soring of Tennessee Walking Horses

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Reader Comments

Lorraine Jester    Tappahannock, VA

4/29/2013 7:35:44 AM

Horses are wonderful wise animals that do not have to be mistreated, abused or used abusively in horse races of any kind. I support that HB 1518 against Soring Horses be passed for horse safety.

Jennifer    Wahiawa, HI

4/26/2013 8:34:35 PM

If enforcing the laws already on the books is a major stumbling block, then how is pushing through even more legislation going to help? Perhaps enforcement needs to go to grassroots efforts. Why couldn't members of the TN Walking Horse Association be trained and sent out to conduct inspections? Why can't the local Humane Society send someone out there? Why can't local law enforcement be trained and sent out? Putting yet more laws out there is not the only answer.

Cindy and ~Luna~    Rockford, IL

4/17/2013 4:17:26 AM

When lots of money is involved, here will always be people wanting to take a shortcut to get the winnings, especially when the competitor can't complain or even talk.

Kathy    Whitney, TX

4/16/2013 4:50:56 PM

I have been to Tennessee to the Walker Celebration. No horses were mistreated there, but several were disqualified for no apparent reason. It has been my experience that a few people mistreating horses cause problems for everyone else. This has also happened in the Quarter Horse area. It is sad that anyone would mistreat a horse, no matter what the breed is. I do not believe that more laws will fix this problem. I beleive we need to take immediate and punitive action against anyone that abuses horses, and other animals.

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