SHOW Denied Restraining Order on Soring Penalties Rule

A federal judge in Texas has denied a request from the horse industry organization Sound Horses, Honest Judging, Objective Inspections, Winning Fairly (SHOW) to prevent the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) from enforcing its final minimum soring penalty rule while further litigation concerning the rule is pending. SHOW manages Tennessee Walking Horse shows including the National Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration.

Soring--the deliberate injury to a horse's feet and legs to achieve an exaggerated, high-stepping gait-is prohibited by the Horse Protection Act (HPA). APHIS enforces the HPA, certifies HIOs that manage horse shows, and trains Designated Qualified Persons (DQPs) hired by HIOs to carry out HPA compliance inspections on horses presented at the shows.

Last month, APHIS announced a final HPA penalty rule requiring all APHIS-certified HIOs to assess penalties that equal or exceed minimum levels for violations. The rule also stiffens penalties for repeat HPA violators. The new rule went into effect today, July 9.

On June 25 SHOW filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas asking the court to block implementation of rule on the grounds that the regulation is unconstitutional and would irreparably harm the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry. SHOW also asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent APHIS from enforcing the rule until the court case is resolved.

On July 6, U.S. District Court Judge Terry R. Means declined to grant the TRO. Means also ordered that the case move forward to trial and that SHOW's request for a preliminary injunction be consolidated into the case.

"Plaintiffs have not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, and the balance of hardships and public-interest factors counsel against the granting of a TRO," Means' ruling said. "Moreover, in the Court's view, any risk of irreparable harm facing Plaintiffs is unlikely to befall them prior to the Court's resolution of the merits of their claims."

No one from SHOW was available to comment on Means ruling.

A hearing in the case is slated for July 16.

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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