USDA Coordinator Pledges Soring Law Enforcement

Exhibitors at this year's Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and other gaited horse shows can expect USDA inspectors to vigorously enforce Horse Protection Act rules against soring, according to USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Horse Protection Coordinator Rachel Cezar, DVM. Soring is the deliberate injury to horses' legs and feet to achieve an exaggerated gait.

"Our emphasis will be enforcing the HPA and its regulations as written," Cezar said.

Cezar issued the warning during the second annual Sound Horse Conference, held in Gainesville, Fla., last weekend. The event hosted by Friends of Sound Horses gathered gaited horse enthusiasts, veterinarians, equine welfare advocates, and breed association representatives to brainstorm ways to eradicate soring in Tennessee Walking Horses and other gaited breeds.

Inspectors will use thermographic examinations and foreign substance testing to ensure that horses are HPA compliant, Cezar said. They will also examine horses' tack for foreign objects and check horses' feet for evidence of illegal shoeing practices.

National Walking Horse Association founding member Rose Miller said ending soring is crucial to Walking Horse industry credibility.

"I hope it completely disappears in my lifetime," she said.

Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association Executive Director Stan Butt is sending his members a similar message.

"I can't tell anyone what discipline to show their horses in, but I can tell them to show sound horses," he said.

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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