Anti-Soring Bill Advances to Full Senate

Anti-Soring Bill Advances to Full Senate

Legislation that would ban the use of performances packages and chains on Tennessee Walking Horses took a step closer to becoming law when a Senate committee passed a twin version of a bill introduced into the U.S. House last year.

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Legislation that would ban the use of performances packages and chains on Tennessee Walking Horses took a step closer to becoming law when a Senate committee passed a twin version of a bill introduced into the U.S. House last year.

Introduced last year by Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), HR 1518, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (or PAST) Act, would amend the Horse Protection Act of 1970, which forbids soring. The PAST Act would forbid trainers from using action devices, including metal chains and stacks and pads (also known as performance packages). In addition, the PAST Act would increase federal penalties for anyone who sores a horse and would require the USDA to assign a licensed inspector if a Tennessee Walking Horse show management indicates its intent to hire one.

HR 1518 remains pending in the U.S. House committee on energy and commerce.

Identical legislation, S 1406, was introduced into the Senate by Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). The Senate's Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee passed the bill on April 9. The legislation now moves to the full U.S. Senate for a vote.

No one from Blackburn's office was available to comment on S 1406/HR 1518's passage.

Jim Cortner, chairman of the Performance Show Horse Association board, was disappointed that the Senate committee passed a bill that had the potential to hurt rural communities and the jobs.

“This bill, passed with no discussion or debate, will have a devastating impact on so many communities across the country and I think it is telling that the only Senators supporting this legislation are ones who aren't affected, who won't have to look constituents in the eye and tell them they voted to destroy their livelihoods,” Cortner said. “Our industry is working hard to institute real reforms, and to eliminate those who would abuse our horses and give our industry a bad name.”

Whitfield applauded the Senate committee's advancement of the bill.

“I will continue to work diligently and urge my fellow Energy and Commerce Committee members and House leadership to take action on the PAST Act and help save this industry from the abuse that has plagued it for more than half a century,” Whitfield said.

Recently, two bills were introduced as alternatives to the PAST Act. In February, Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced HR 4098, which does not forbid trainers from using metal chains, stacks, or pads. And on April 1, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) introduced a Senate bill that would modify HR 4098, but would still not ban performance packages or chains. HR 4098 remains pending in the House's Energy and Commerce Committee, while Alexander's bill remains pending in the Senate.

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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