Bipartisan legislation aims to protect horses from the abusive practice known as “soring”
In late May, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced bipartisan legislation to protect horses from the abusive practice known as "soring" – in which show horse trainers intentionally apply substances or devices to a horse's limb to make each step painful, forcing a horse to perform an exaggerated high-stepping gait that is rewarded in show rings, according to a report from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). While soring is prohibited under federal law, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General (IG) report has found that some horse trainers often go to great lengths to continue this inhumane practice.
"For more than 400 years, horses have been a part of Virginia's culture. But despite a federal ban, horse soring – an act that deliberately inflicts pain on these animals – continues in some segments of the walking horse industry," said Sen. Warner. "This bipartisan bill will finally put an end to this cruel and abusive practice."
Industry groups support the bill
"The American Horse Council – the voice of the nation's equine sector which directly supports nearly one million U.S. jobs and contributes $122 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – applauds the leadership of Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mark Warner (D-VA) for introducing the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act of 2018,” said said Julie M. Broadway, President of the American Horse Council. “Although ‘soring’ – which is the practice of inflicting pain on a horse's limb to produce an accentuated gait – has declined since Congress enacted the Horse Protection Act in 1970, the PAST Act will build on this progress by modernizing inspection and revising penalties for violations.”
"We are very pleased that the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act is being introduced in the Senate, and would like to thank Senators Warner and Crapo for their leadership on this important horse welfare issue. The AVMA condemns the act of soring and feels that the current system of inspection and enforcement is not sufficient to stop this inhumane practice," said Dr. Michael Topper, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
“Soring is an intentional, cruel act which must end. As doctors of veterinary medicine, the AAEP will continue to support the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act and work to eliminate this inhumane practice on horses,” said Dr. Margo Macpherson, President of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
According to the AAEP report, The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act would:
- Eliminate self-policing by requiring the USDA to assign a licensed inspector if the show’s management indicates its intent to hire one. Licensed or accredited veterinarians, if available, would be given preference for these positions.
- Prohibit the use of action devices and pads on specific horse breeds that have historically been the primary victims of soring. Action devices, such as chains that rub up and down an already-sore leg, intensify the horse’s pain when it moves, so that the horse quickly jolts up its leg.
- Increase the penalties on an individual caught soring a horse from a misdemeanor to a felony which is subject to up to three years’ incarceration, increase fines from $3,000 to $5,000 per violation, and permanently disqualify three-time violators from participating in horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions.