Group Seeks Stiffer Anti-Soring Rules

A group of equine welfare advocates want the USDA to adopt new regulations designed to beef-up enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970 at Tennessee Walking Horse exhibitions. The act forbids soring, the deliberate injury to a horse's legs to achieve an exaggerated "big lick" gait.

In a legal petition filed on August 4, The Humane Society of the Untied States, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Horse Protection Association, Friends of Sound Horses and former Maryland Sen. Joseph Tidings, original sponsor of the HPA legislation, asked the USDA to permanently ban repeat HPA violators and horses scarred by soring from competing in future shows. The petition also asks the agency to require Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs) to adopt minimum HPA violation penalties, and to decertify HIOs that chronically refuse to comply with USDA rules.

USDA Horse Protection Coordinator Rachel Cezar, DVM, said the agency is reviewing the petition.

In recent years, the USDA has added technologies such as thermographic scanners and other protocols to bolster HPA enforcement. However, according to Keith Dane, Director of Equine Protection for the HSUS, soring remains an issue within the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry.

"So we would like to see USDA implement (the requested new rules) as soon as possible," Dane said.

Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association Executive Director Stan Butt said his organization welcomes any effort that promotes better HPA compliance for all breeds and disciplines.

"As the international breed registry for the Tennessee Walking Horse, we are always concerned about care and well-being of our horses, support any and all HIOs that work to make things better for all show horses."

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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