Program Recognizes Humanely Trained Tennessee Walking Horses

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has announced the formation of a new grant and recognition program, and—along with Marty Irby, immediate past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association—has called on Congress to pass the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, HR 1518/S 1406, to strengthen the existing federal law to end soring.

These announcements were made at a press conference during the final days of the 2013 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. The award program and support for the bill are part of The HSUS’ efforts to help end the practice of horse “soring,” deliberate injury to a horses' feet and legs to achieve a high-stepping gait.

Individual awards up to $500 and program grants up to $1,000 are available to those who promote flat-shod registered Tennessee Walking Horses in venues other than traditional show ring rail classes. The program is designed to encourage improvement of horses’ and riders’ skills, recognize participation and achievement in multi-breed events, and enable equipment purchases and rider sponsorships in therapeutic horsemanship programs and natural horsemanship clinics intended to introduce more walking horse enthusiasts to humane approaches to training. Applicants for these grants must have no history of Horse Protection Act violations received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture or any of its certified horse industry inspection programs within the past five years in order to participate in this program.

“We believe the Tennessee walking horse industry can realize a sound future by recognizing some of its new leaders: owners and riders who appreciate the versatility, temperament, and athleticism of this magnificent breed,” opines Keith Dane, director of equine protection for the HSUS. “The PAST Act will be an integral part of this sound revolution—when every aspect of soring abuse is eradicated by this important federal legislation, the horses and their caring owners will truly be able to shine.”

The PAST Act—sponsored in the House of Representatives by Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and in the Senate by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.)—is designed to ban the use of certain devices associated with soring, strengthen penalties, and hold accountable all those involved in soring. The measure has bipartisan support, with 140 cosponsors in the House. The Senate bill was introduced just before the August recess.

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