Edited Press Release
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.