New bill aims to end soring of Tennessee Walking Horses

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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?

11 COMMENTS

  1. I really, thought that there was a law or bill against soring, but maybe it was no enforceable(??). But I am glad it going to help the horses.

  2. I see this all the time here in Tennessee. This is so wrong. I say if you can not show your horse in there natural gait then don’t show at all. We had a man here in TN that was doing this and beating the horses and now he is no longer allowed to own a horse at all.This is what they should do to the ones that do this. Take all there horses away from them and never ever let them own another horse as long as they live.

  3. I own a Tennesse Walker. There is no reason to inflict pain on a horse so they walk unnaturally. Horses are very sensitive animals that some people abuse. Soring is just one example.
    There is a Walker at the stable where I keep my horse, that will be put down in two days because a previous owner gave him an injection in his tail so he would carry it in a pretty way. The injection hit a nerve, and his digestion system was affected. The current owner has been trying different meds, via a Vet for the past three years without results. This beautiful sweet horse is starving to death because he can’t absorbe the nutrients. He can’t even touch hay anymore.
    As far as I’m concerned, the individuals who were involved in giving this horse,Winston,the shot, should be held criminally laible for their action.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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