Washington, D.C.—Our nation’s walking horses have suffered too long from the cruel practice of soring. It’s time, once and for all, that our nation’s leaders revise the Horse Protection Act to outlaw this abusive practice and punish those who do it, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) told Congress this week.
On Wednesday, AVMA Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ron DeHaven applauded Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), a veterinarian, for introducing the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (H.R. 3268) in the U.S. House. In doing so, Rep. Yoho joins his colleagues in the Senate in taking action against the abusive practice of soring, which is the act of deliberately inflicting pain—through chemical or physical means—to exaggerate the leg motion of certain walking horse breeds to gain an unfair advantage in the show ring.
"For more than 30 years, the AVMA has urged Congress to stop its political posturing, cut through the bureaucratic red tape, and stand up for America’s walking horses," DeHaven said. "Our nation’s leaders sent a clear signal this week that the successes from last Congress have not fallen on deaf ears. We encourage those in leadership to listen to their veterinary colleague, Rep. Yoho, and his colleagues in the Senate in passing this bill expeditiously to protect the health and welfare of America’s walking horses."
"As a veterinarian and lover of animals, I feel the time is now to stop the practice of horse soring for good," Yoho said in a press release. "The walking horse industry has had since 1970 to reform their ways and come up with a more ethical means to achieve their desired goal. They have failed to take advantage of this opportunity and now is the time for horse soring to end."
The PAST Act will take many important and necessary steps to stop soring, including: making the act of soring a crime; eliminating the current self-policing system in the walking horse industry by requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture to license, train, assign and oversee inspectors; ending the use of equipment that has been proven to mask the signs of soring (such as "action devices" or "performance packages"); increasing civil and criminal penalties for violation; and allowing for the permanent disqualification of violators.
Last Congress, the PAST Act had the support of more than 365 lawmakers, every state veterinary medical association, and numerous other veterinary organizations and individuals. Currently, the House and Senate versions of the bill (H.R. 3268/S. 1121) have a combined 156 cosponsors. The bill continues to gain endorsements from a number of horse organizations, including the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and veterinary and animal health associations, as well as horse industry professionals and veterinarians.
Learn more about the harmful effects of soring on AVMA’s web page.