Breaking news: Congress moves to make horse soring a thing of the PAST

By on July 25, 2019 with 30 Comments

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

We have terrific news to report in our long-running fight to protect Tennessee walking horses and related breeds from the cruel practice of soring. The House of Representatives has just approved a bill to end this heinous practice in which violators intentionally inflict pain on a horse’s legs or hooves, forcing the animal to perform an artificial, high-stepping gait called the “big lick.”

The U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 693, was approved by an overwhelming 333 to 96 bipartisan vote. It would amend the Horse Protection Act and close loopholes that have allowed some trainers to continue soring innocent animals to get them to win ribbons and awards at competitions.

The PAST Act would end the failed and conflict-ridden system of industry self-policing (replacing it with a cadre of third party, independent inspectors trained, licensed and assigned by USDA and accountable to the agency). It would ban devices integral to soring, strengthen penalties and hold abusers accountable.

Soring is a particularly sinister form of animal cruelty. It’s like forcing a hurdle sprinter to race with broken glass in her shoes to make her jump higher and run faster. Trainers apply caustic chemicals to the horse’s limbs, wrapping them tightly for days to “cook” the chemicals in, then attach chains or “action devices” to strike the painful area. Pressure shoeing is another popular technique: cutting a horse’s hoof almost to the quick, jamming in hard or sharp objects, and tightly nailing on a tall, heavy platform shoe. These methods cause excruciating pain whenever the horse puts weight on his hoof. To evade detection, horses are also subjected to “stewarding,” in which trainers kick, shock and hit them with wooden sticks to get the animals to stand still despite the pain. The horses learn not to flinch when an inspector presses their sore legs.

In 1970, Congress intended to end soring when it passed the Horse Protection Act, led by then-Sen. Tydings of Maryland, but political interference and poor commitment to enforcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowed the practice to continue unabated.

The Humane Society of the United States has long led the charge to end soring. Our staff members – some of whom have been participants in the walking horse industry and tried to advance reforms from within – have exposed the cruelty and corruption in the industry, even under threat of expulsion and physical harm.

Our brave undercover investigators have documented the abject cruelty and blatant lawbreaking in undercover investigations that led to one of the first convictions ever under the Horse Protection Act and to the precursor of the PAST Act being introduced in 2012. Our attorneys, with the pro bono contributions of Latham & Watkins, LLP, have filed petitions with USDA on behalf of the HSUS and others seeking regulatory reform, leading to a strict new rule to crack down on soring that was finalized but later repealed when the Trump administration took office. Our Humane Society Legislative Fund and equine protection staff have successfully pushed Congress to boost funding and mobilized broad support for the proposed rule to strengthen USDA enforcement and, working with House champions and coalition partners, lobbied tirelessly to secure this important milestone for horses.

We are grateful to the champions of the bill — Reps. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Ted Yoho, R-Fla., Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Ron Estes, R-Kan., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Chris Collins, R-N.Y. — to the 308 total House cosponsors, everyone who voted today to pass this important bill, the House leadership for bringing the bill to a vote, and to former Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Rep. Cohen who introduced the first version of this bill back in 2012.

The PAST Act has also received the support of hundreds of stakeholder groups and individuals, including 70 national and state horse groups such as the American Horse Council and the U.S. Equestrian Federation, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, the state veterinary organizations of all 50 states, key individuals in the Tennessee Walking Horse show world, National Sheriffs’ Association, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and major newspapers in Kentucky and Tennessee (the states where soring is most prevalent).

It’s now up to the Senate to act to stamp out this cruelty. A Senate companion bill, S. 1007, introduced in April by Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Mark Warner, D-Va., currently has 41 Senate cosponsors. We urge the Senate to act swiftly to pass this important bill.

Tennessee walking horses are a breed known for their beautiful natural gait and wonderful disposition. But at this very moment, horses are being sored in preparation for the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in August. There is no reason nor excuse for delay. Please contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to cosponsor the PAST Act if they haven’t yet, and do all they can to get it passed quickly. And if your U.S. representative voted to pass the bill, please thank them for helping end this cruelty.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Categories
Equine, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.

30 Comments

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Sites That Link to This Post

  1. Congress Moves to Ban Cruel Horse Soring | LIVEKINDLY | July 25, 2019
  1. Frances Leard says:

    It’s about time they acted on this cruel insane treatment. They do drag their feet when it comes to the cruelty of all animals.
    Thank you for taking action in this matter.

    • Vicky says:

      It is about time thank you for taking action to protect these amazing animals. Now put all the violators in the jail for good

  2. Judith keene says:

    Passing the PAST Act quickly would be great! Its long time this horrible practice was ended once and for all! But they also should make it illegal to hold the big lick classes in the TWH horse shows as there will still be some that will try to go against the law if passed.

    • Bonnie says:

      Absolutely!!!

    • Linda says:

      I agree with you Judith. There is nothing natural about the so called Big Lick. It looks ridiculous and looks ugly to me. I would never watch a horse show class showing that horrible cruel technique. Shame on those cruel people that torture the TWH.

    • Cindy C. says:

      I completely agree with Judith and would add that persons committing this cruel act should be legally prosecuted. Thank you to those in the House of Representatives who made this possible.

  3. Colleen O'Connor says:

    I am so happy for this wonderful news! It’s hard to believe anyone would support this horrific practice. The most important part of a horse are their hooves. To deliberately inflict harm to them is inhumane. Thank you so much to all who working to end this cruelty.

  4. Emily williams says:

    We have two very important Bill’s that need to be passed as quickly as possible. The big lick s.1007. And THE SAFE FOOD ACT H. R. 961 / S. 2006 THE SAFE FOOD ACT H .R
    961 / S. 2006 . SLAUHTERING HORSES BRUTALLY AND VERY UNNESSESARLY . FOR TAINTED HORSEMEAT TO BE SENT ABROAD. HORSES ARE NOT RAISED IN THE U.S. FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION. THEY ARE COMPANION ANIMALS IN THE U.S. THEY HAVE ALOT OF DRUGS IN THEIR BODY WHICH ARE NOT SAFE FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION! WE NEED TO STOP THIS CRUEL IN HUMANE SLAUGHTER OF PERFECTLY SOUND HORSES WHO ARE ML BRUTALLY MURDERED FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION. WHICH IS TOTALLY BRUTAL AND MEAT THAT IS TAINTED. THETE ARE SEVERAL COUNTRIES THAT DO NOT EXCEPT HORSE MEAT FROM THE U. S . THEY TESTED THE MEAT AND.FOUND IT.UNSAFE FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION! WE NEED HELP TO GET THIS BILL PROCESSED . PLEASE CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE AND TWO SENATORS AND ASK THEM TO. COSPONSOR THIS MUCH NEEDED BILL. THANK YOU

  5. Thomas says:

    Its about time. NOW STOP SLAUGHTERHOUSE

  6. Thomas says:

    Its about time. Now stop Horse slaughter.

  7. Judy Rumsey says:

    There needs to be a ban on the big lick classes! Until then horses will continue to suffer this abuse, illegal or not.

  8. Betty Erickson says:

    I want to thank you all for passing this law to quit harming these horses. I think that anyone who has done this should suffer the same way the horses suffered.

  9. Sandi Inches says:

    Yes, I totally agree to commenting policy. Please stop cruel practice of soring.

  10. Joanne says:

    The folks on Change.org called CCABLK (concerned citizens agaist Big Lick) have worked tirelessly year after year protesting the training practices involved to get the big lick gait. They have travelled to all Tennessee Walker horse shows in the south, posting signs outside the events. The got donations rescinded in support of one show. It’s amazing the work they’ve done on a volunteer basis with donations.

  11. Erin says:

    This is barbaric and revolting. Absolutely no need for this and needs to be abolished immediately! Please help these innocent being from further torture by humans.

  12. Sundae Fassig says:

    I can’t believe how anyone could allow such cruelty be done to their horses let alone people allowing it to happen at all.
    Some human beings do not deserve to own such beautiful animals.
    Inflicting intentional pain on animals should be considered animal abuse and punished to the highest degree of the law
    Any person who commits these abuses should not be allowed to own any horses

  13. Susan Trout says:

    I’m ecstatic to learn that the end to this horrific “entertainment” is near. My heart aches for all those horses who have suffered so but we can now focus on the future and encourage those who love the Tennessee Walking Horse to do all they can to promote humane treatment and show practices for this lovely horse. I pray, too, that we end the slaughter of horses for meat. Hundreds of thousands of pitiful creatures have suffered beyond human imagination and we cannot claim to be civilized until we include all living creatures in our circle of compassion. Never give up. Never give up. Never! Never! Never give up.

  14. Tami Pierce says:

    so tired of the animal cruelty that goes with the horse show, and race industry, some people only care about winning the big dollar at the expense of their mount. Once passed I hope they do the part to enforce this

  15. Petra says:

    All my prayers that this go through without any further delay. And that the ppl they harm those beautiful animals like that burn in hell. Just look at the creep in the foto who rides the horse. Freddy Kruger’s brother. Sick world!

  16. Sandy Walter says:

    It has been proven by physicologist that cruelty to animals, will & does seep into how any ABUSERS of animals reflects on how they also treat their fellow human beings! That being established, I was angered, again, by trump’s administration repealing a bill that was finalized to end this horrific practice! Perhaps this is a reflection of why the trump family never had pets!

  17. Cindy jo alspaugh says:

    This should not take Congress to stop this.horse owners that let a trainer do this need to be stopped.but right on Congress

  18. Sunny Martin says:

    Please stop this sori g and protect these beautiful horses!!!

  19. Denise says:

    They are just downing the walking horses right now. They better start on the saddlebreds, quarter horses they all do something that isn’t right. They have tricks and traits also.

  20. Frances Bates says:

    Do any of you guys own horses? The HPA (Horse Protection Act of 1970) already out laws horse soring… The (PAST) Act, H.R. 693, that was approved by the House of Representatives will amend the Horse Protection Act… which includes ALL horses. Does you horse wear a shoe? That will be OUT.. No weighted shoe allowed.. All horse shoes have weight. This is a deceptive, misleading bill. It’s not about horse protection.. or Stoping ‘abuse’.. it’s about ending horseback riding of any kind.

  21. Frances Bates says:

    HSUS and others (financially supported by HSUS) seeking regulatory reform (in 2016) leading to a strict new rule to crack down on soring (They tried to slip Pass Congress but got caught when Trump won the election and stopped all reforms until they could be reviewed… )
    Old data and pictures are being used that don’t reflect the industry of today. The Tennessee Walking horse is the Most inspected horse in History!! More laws are not needed to improve that 98% of all TWH Show horses are in compliance with USDA rules now.

    • Karen Wonnell says:

      Frances, u must be an advocate of animal,horse abuse if u think the trainers of the TWH that do the big lick are compliant to anything other than cruelty. It goes on today at all the TWH shows and the celebration is in August so go and watch the show so u can see how non compliant these sick trainers are and look into the eyes of these gentle horses and see the pain and fear, that should tell u clearly that soring is on going today unless u r blind or paid off.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.

Top