Let’s make this the year we end horse soring by passing the PAST Act

By on May 24, 2018 with 18 Comments

Congress first tried to end soring — the intentional infliction of pain on the legs and hooves of Tennessee walking horses and related breeds to create the exaggerated, artificial show gait known as the “big lick”” — nearly half a century ago, with the passage of the federal Horse Protection Act of 1970. Nonetheless, unscrupulous trainers and exhibitors have found loopholes that allow them to routinely circumvent the law to continue this cruelty and the suffering it causes.

For many years, The Humane Society of the United States has been actively campaigning to end soring. Today, at the start of the three-day “Spring Fun Show” in Shelbyville, Tennessee, featuring big lick horses, two lawmakers who have demonstrated a continuing commitment to horses have reintroduced bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate that will close loopholes in the Horse Protection Act and help end soring once and for all.

Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Mark Warner, D-Va., are sponsoring the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, S. 2957 (identical to S. 1121 in the 114th Congress), joined by a solid bipartisan leadership team of Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Edward Markey, D-Mass., Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., as original cosponsors. To fix the key gaps in current law, the bill will end the corrupt and failed system of industry self policing (as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s own Inspector General in a 2010 audit), ban cruel devices integral to the soring process, including weighted, stacked shoes and ankle chains, and create stronger penalties for violators.

The companion bill in the House, H.R. 1847, introduced last year by Reps. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., and Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., both equine veterinarians, already has 281 bipartisan cosponsors – nearly two thirds of that chamber’s members.

Soring is so prevalent that at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, the industry’s biggest event, the USDA found, in 2016, that nearly 90 percent of horses tested positive for prohibited substances that cause pain or camouflage evidence of soring. In 2017, nearly 62 percent of horses tested positive (even under a new administration committed to working closely with the regulated industry).

Over a year ago, the USDA took steps to strengthen its enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, proposing and finalizing a rule to limit and curtail the corruption and abusive practices of the soring industry. The rule, which mirrored key reforms in the PAST Act, received more than 100,000 supportive public comments and was endorsed by numerous equine industry groups, veterinary organizations and 224 representatives and senators. Unfortunately, the Office of the Federal Register failed to publish the rule in a timely manner after the USDA announced the new policy on January 13, 2017, and the rule got swept up in a broader Trump administration policy to freeze rulemaking actions still in progress. Since that time, new leadership at the USDA has failed to indicate an interest in implementing the rule, despite continued petitioning from concerned citizens and members of Congress, including bipartisan letters that 154 representatives sent to President Trump in February 2017 and that 190 representatives and 38 senators sent to the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee in the last two months seeking language directing the USDA to publish this rule.

Worse still, the USDA has actually wiped out vital animal welfare records from its website, thus preventing the public from readily accessing enforcement records on trainers and owners who intentionally violate the HPA and sore their walking horses to win blue ribbons.

The PAST Act has sweeping endorsements from hundreds of groups and leaders within the equine and veterinary industries, the American Horse Council, the United States Equestrian Federation, more than 60 other national and state horse groups, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, all 50 state veterinary medical associations, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. It also commands the support of major newspapers in Kentucky and Tennessee – the heart of horse soring country.

The 2018 show season is now under way, and for many horses this is also a season of cruelty: they are confined to their stalls day in and day out, and they are forced to suffer in excruciating pain from caustic chemicals slathered on their lower limbs, with heavy chains banging on their burned skin, and dragging heavy platform shoes strapped to their hooves. All this just so they can perform the big lick for a dwindling audience.

Please join us to make this the year that the PAST Act becomes law, ending this suffering for good. Contact both of your U.S. senators and your U.S. representative to urge them to cosponsor the PAST Act if they haven’t yet, and do all they can to get it over the finish line quickly.

P.S. The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee today voted to maintain the ban on horse slaughter for human consumption on U.S. soil. The provision is included in the FY19 agriculture appropriations bill that passed the committee today, and it would bar spending by the USDA to inspect horse slaughterhouses, saving millions of taxpayer dollars.

Equine, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Dana Kelley says:

    End this horrible act they do to these beautiful creatures!

    • Michele OBrien says:

      It never ceases to amaze me what cruelty people will inflict on an animal just to make a name for themselves and in this case for their horse farm. They disgust me.

    • Madisyn says:

      Lets STOP this act of abuse, they never did anything to us. Lets make the world a better place by STOPING this act of abuse. They don’t deserve this!!!

  2. Mary Ann Witt says:

    STOP this abuse.

  3. Bess Wallingford says:

    I pray this ends in my lifetime!! 😪😪😪😪😪😪

  4. Melissa sangenario says:

    Let’s end this despicable torture of these magnificent animals.

  5. Cat Kennie says:

    This anti-soring bill needs to be passed or the torture of sored horses will continue. Please contact all of the state representatives to urge them to support this bill. We need to stop the chains and stacked shoes from being legal.

  6. Diana says:

    Quit this cruel treatment of horses.

  7. janet Roberts says:

    I can’t explain the way I feel except you make my stomach turn and the way you treat these magnificent animals why do you do this all to them they run hard for you let’s go kart sites for buggies and yet you send them to the slaughterhouse how mean they are at the slaughterhouse have you seen how they treat then turn them how to pasture please don’t do this to them

  8. Donna R says:

    This must be ended.

  9. Kathleen Wright says:

    These animals were not put on this earth for you to torture. Stop the cruelty now!!!!

  10. Lesley says:

    I am not American but I am a human being and urge all Americans to rise up and rattle their chains at their Senators and Representatives. These people are elected and have the power to stop soring. Is it that they are so are utterly greedy and shameless they take payoffs and leg ups.

    Tell them to do the right thing and use their power properly. Tell them to put a STOP to it. Tell them to never again hurt anything like this for profit and politics. They know they are wrong.

    The poor, poor horses.

    Thanks for reading.

  11. Lenore says:

    This action must stop.

  12. Beth Nordmeyer says:

    2018 SORING MUST END! Stop Tennessee from buying cruelty, they pay fines from USDA and CONTINUE SORING HORSES! TAXPAYERS WANT CRUELTY TO THESE HORSES STOPPED! Stop the corruption in government on this issue, taxpayers are not idiots, we want soring to end NOW!

  13. Carline Haga says:

    I cannot believe that horse soring STILL exists, that some human beings actually ENJOY and support this brutal activity that causes such pain and agony to these beautiful animals. And I still can’t understand why this activity is allowed to continue. Anyone in power who continues to support horse soring must read the details that take places to prepare the horses torture, and actually SEE a video of the unspeakable process. And we, the american people, need to know the names of all senator and representative and other governmental officials who continue to support horse soring after knowing what the horse must endure, so that we can make sure H..R. 1847 is passed and enforced or vote the “statesmen” who support it out of office.

  14. Nina Boal says:

    This intentional cruelty must be ended NOW. I grew up with a lovely Tennessee Walker during my childhood. Fortunately for her, she had never been a show horse and thus had never been subjected to soring.

  15. Mrs Lea cannings says:

    I am from England and this soring of walking horses has only just come to my attention. I can only say…. I can’t believe you Americans… truly unbelievable

  16. republican says:

    and if the US government is allowing animal abuse then i am no longer proud to be an called American

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