New Soring Investigation Procedures Announced by USDA

Exhibitors at gaited horse shows will be subject to additional Horse Protection Act (HPA) compliance procedures this season under new USDA inspection rules for Horse Industry Organizations.

The USDA requires organizations conducting horse shows to provide USDA-licensed inspectors to examine horses for signs of soring--the deliberate injury to a horse's legs to achieve an exaggerated gait.

The agency annually establishes new compliance procedures based on federal inspectors' observations during the previous year.

The new rules require horses found noncompliant with HPA regulations in pre-class inspection to be dismissed from the class and prohibited from participating in any remaining portion of the event. Previously, noncompliant horses were dismissed only from individual classes. Also, horses dismissed from the show arena must be brought directly to the inspection area for follow-up examination.

The new regulations also allow USDA inspectors to use digital imaging to determine if a horse is noncompliant.

Application of HPA compliance procedures has been contentious in recent years, especially at Tennessee Walking Horse shows. Stan Butt, executive director of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association, did not respond to a request for comment.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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