Active Pursuit of
Introduced by Congressman Ed Whitfield (KY-1st), H.R. 6388 would amend the Horse Protection Act (HPA) to designate additional unlawful acts, strengthen penalties for violations, improve USDA enforcement, and for other purposes. Specific provisions include:
- Defines “action device” to include any boot, collar, chain, roller, or other device that encircles or is placed upon the lower extremity of the leg of a horse.
- Creates a penalty structure that requires horses to be disqualified for increasing periods of time, based on number of violations. (from 180 days to 3 years)
- Requires USDA to license, train, assign and oversee inspectors enforcing the HPA.
- Makes the actual act of soring illegal or directing another person to cause a horse to become sore.
- Prohibits use of action devices on any limb of Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle horses, or Racking horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions. Also bans weighted shoes, pads, wedges, hoof bands, or other devices that is not strictly protective or therapeutic in nature.
- Increases civil and criminal penalties for violation.
- Allow for permanent disqualification for violators on their third or higher violation.
is the act of deliberately causing pain to exaggerate the leg motion of
high-gaited horses, such as Tennessee Walking Horses.
Horse Protection Act was passed in 1970, with a goal of ending soring.
inhumane practice, despite being illegal for 40 years, is still used far too
often by many owners and trainers to win in the show ring.
are sored in many ways. Caustic materials (e.g., kerosene, mustard oil) may be
used to injure the skin of the lower leg, the hoof and/or sole may be ground to
expose sensitive tissues, hard objects may be inserted between the shoe pads
and the sole, metal hoof bands may be overtightened, or improper shoeing techniques
may be used. Irrespective of technique, the purpose of soring is to cause the
horse pain so that it lifts its legs faster and higher (the “big lick”).
is so common that many trainers and owners believe they must use it just to be
rest and training may allow some horses to recover from soring, others suffer
irreversible foot damage and are crippled for life. The mental damage done to
the horse can make rehabilitation difficult, if not impossible.
insufficient funding and other resources for enforcement, unethical owners and
trainers, show judges that reward bad behavior, and strong political influence
by the industry have contributed to a culture of corruption so that, more than
40 years later, we are still seeing horses being sored.
- The focus and intent of H.R.
6388 is consistent with AVMA policy on the Practice of Soring.
that ban actions devices and performance packages are consistent with the AVMA/AAEP Position on the Use of Action Devices and Performance Packages for Tennessee Walking Horses, which states “ the American
Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine
Practitioners (AAEP) support a ban on the use of action devices and performance
packages in the training and showing of Tennessee Walking Horses.
- This legislation makes the
actual act of soring illegal, and clarifies and broadens who is culpable when
horses are sored. It increases civil and criminal penalties, and allows for
permanent disqualification of violators. These amendments are important
deterrents and give officials more legal authority to charge and prosecute
- Passing this bill would end the
use of designated qualified persons (DQPs) as inspectors (an enforcement
approach that has been woefully unsuccessful) and establish a new program
whereby independent inspectors would be licensed, trained, and overseen by the
USDA. Such a change is consistent with recommendations made by the AAEP in its 2008 white paper, more recent suggestions made
by the AVMA and the AAEP to USDA, and the AVMA’s response to the USDA’s 2011 docket that
solicited input on the assessment and enforcement of minimum penalties for
AVMA fully supports USDA in their efforts to continue enhancement and
enforcement of regulations promulgated under the HPA, as well as the
prosecution of HPA violators.
- The AVMA has aggressively
worked to educate stakeholders (e.g., equine and non-equine veterinarians,
horse owners, trainers, legislators, and the public) about soring, with the
goal being cessation of the practice.
- The AVMA is steadfast in its
commitment to its strategic goal to “promote animal welfare”, and this
legislation is consistent with that goal.
Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Commerce, Science, and