Posted November 19, 2013
 
Congress members and veterinarians recently debated an amendment to the Horse Protection Act that would require USDA to accredit all inspectors involved in Tennessee Walking Horse shows, according to an article by Agri-Pulse available here
 
H.R. 1518, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, was introduced by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and now has 223 cosponsors in the House.  Its companion bill in the Senate, (S. 1406) has 26 cosponsors. 
 
The abusive practice of horse soring, “which enhances the walking horse’s natural gait to create an exaggerated step” has been illegal in shows, sales, or exhibits since the Horse Protection Act (HPA) was passed in 1970.  A 2010 report by the USDA Office of the Inspector General, however, found that this practice of intentionally inflicting pain to enhance gait is still prevalent.
 
The HPA made this practice illegal, but the use of “action devices,” including “padded horseshoes and chains that can enhance soring wounds, is currently protected.”  The PAST Act would restrict the use of “action devices” and administer the inspection program. 
 
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and over 100 veterinary, horse industry, and animal welfare groups endorsed PAST.  The AVMA says that “the PAST Act is necessary to make the actual act of soring illegal, as well as to ban incentives to sore.”
 
James Hickey, Jr., President of the American Horse Council, supports PAST and called it “a narrowly drafted bill that is focused on soring … and does not adversely affect other segments of the horse industry that are not soring horses.”
 
Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), opposes the bill, according to an article by the Huffington Post available here.  Rep. Blackburn said, “This legislation brings excessive regulatory burdens on the industry and thus the entire breed.”

 

For more information on animal welfare, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.