Advocating for horse welfare

The AVMA advocates on a variety of horse welfare issues. These range from the inhumane practice of soring, to horse transportation, medical practices, and management of wild horses and burros.

Horse soring

The cruel and inhumane act of horse soring—deliberately causing pain to exaggerate a horse's gait and gain an advantage in the showring—has effectively been illegal for decades. But because of enforcement loopholes and ineffective self-inspection by the walking horse industry, this practice continues to be common in events with Tennessee Walking Horses.

There are two possible paths for closing those loopholes and improving horse welfare—legislative and regulatory. The AVMA is actively engaged on both sides and has long advocated for Congress to close loopholes and end needless suffering of horses by passing the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act. This bill would provide the enforcement mechanisms necessary to catch bad actors and preserve horse welfare. In addition, the AVMA has supported USDA APHIS efforts culminating in a new rule (effective February 1, 2025) strengthening the Agency’s efforts to protect horses.

Wild horse and burro management

Wild, free-roaming horses and burros on lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the western United States are a unique animal population protected by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (Public Law 92-195).

Right now, the number of wild horses and burros on the range is three times greater than the appropriate management level determined by the BLM. Overpopulation has created welfare risks such as starvation and dehydration due to scarce food and water supplies in some areas.

Current population control methods employed by the BLM have not succeeded in achieving manageable population numbers. The AVMA and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) believe multiple strategies are needed for the wild horse and burro population to reach the desired level. This is necessary to optimize the health of the animals on the range while reducing welfare impacts caused by overpopulation in areas of limited resources.