By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson
An overwhelming majority of Kentucky voters oppose horse soring—the intentional infliction of pain on the hooves and legs of Tennessee walking horses and related breeds—and want Congress to end it, according to the results of a new poll we are releasing today.
Seventy-eight percent of poll respondents, cutting across age, gender, political affiliations and geographic regions in the state, said they support legislative reforms to end soring in the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, S. 1007/H.R. 693. The bill, which we have supported from the outset, has already passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.
The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida, between Oct. 12 and 15. A total of 625 registered Kentucky voters were interviewed statewide by telephone for the poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus four percent.
A similar poll of Tennessee voters earlier this year found 82 percent of voters in that state, which is home to the largest walking horse event, the National Celebration, also support this legislation to end horse soring.
Horse sorers typically use caustic chemicals and chains, cutting and other gruesome techniques to force the animals to perform an artificial high-stepping gait for the show ring known as the “big lick.” The PAST Act would amend the 1970 Horse Protection Act to end this cruelty once and for all. It was carefully crafted with the input of numerous horse industry, veterinary, and animal protection stakeholder groups, including the American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund.
Other breeds that have not historically been subjected to this cruelty are not impacted by the legislation. The bill is also endorsed by hundreds of organizations and individuals in the equestrian, veterinary, law enforcement and animal protection communities, and it has the support of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, as was clear from the 333-96 vote when the House passed it last year.
It’s now up to the U.S. Senate, where 52 Senators (more than half the chamber) are cosponsoring the bill, to do the right thing by animals and move this bill forward. The bill will end the failed system of industry self-policing, ban all of the devices integral to soring, strengthen penalties and hold abusers accountable—all for negligible cost as determined by the Congressional Budget Office.
Please urge your Senators to support this important bill and do all they can to get it enacted quickly. Trainers and horse owners have gotten away with soring walking horses and related breeds for decades, as our own investigations have shown, and every day our lawmakers delay the passage of this legislation is one more day of abject suffering and pain for the victims of these scofflaws.
Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.