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New Efforts Make Soring A Felony
 By Winniefield Park   •   30th May 2015   •   2,648 views   •   0 comments
New Efforts Make Soring A Felony

It baffles me that the issue of soring has lasted so long. What is soring? It is the use of caustic chemicals used to irritate the skin on a horse’s legs, the insertion of sharp objects into sensitive parts of the horse’s hooves, weighted shoes, trimming hooves so that tender tissue is exposed and other barbaric practices thought to make a horse lift up its feet higher to perform something called ‘The Big Lick’, a popular competition in the Tennessee Walking Horse world. These methods, or combination of methods ensure that a horse lives in constant pain.

Back in 1970 the US Congress enacted the Horse Protection Act (HPA), designed to make soring illegal. Forty years later, the HPA has proven to be without teeth. Those who use soring to create unnaturally high-stepping horses have stayed one step ahead of the law. When one soring method becomes detectable, another is created. The www.hpadata.us claims over 13,000 incidences since the enactment of the HPA.

Related: When does the show ring go too far
Related: The Inhumane Practice of Soring Continues

Nevertheless, renewed efforts to bring this despicable practice to an end have begun. The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act has been re-introduced to the the US legislature after failing to make it to the floor last fall. Introduced by two senators, the pending bill would change the practice of soring from a misdemeanor to felony. Any caustic agents, weighted shoes, leg chains or other chemical or article applied to a horse’s legs or hooves to make it step higher would be illegal. It changes how inspectors are qualified, and enforces a new licensing process. All “Big Lick” events would require an inspector. The TWH show industry may be self-policing, but to do so would risk greater liability if soring is discovered. Penalties will be stiffer, and lifetime bans enforced for those charged with a third violation.

There are those who believe that the PAST Act will destroy the TWH show industry, and that self-regulation is working. The PAST Act will actually punish the greater number who do things right. The effort and money that would go into monitoring the TWH industry would be better spent elsewhere and is a poor use of taxpayer’s money. The incidences of soring are few, and that further legislation isn’t necessary. These are just a few of the arguments against the PAST Act.

But many others including the Humane Society of the United States, the American Horse Council, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the American Association of Equine Practitioners endorse the bill. The public too, is aware of the practice and Friends of Sound Horses provides information for those who wish to enjoy and show their gaited horses without the use of cruel artificial means to enhance their gaits. The United States Equestrian Federation passed a rule against the use of any form of soring or device to enhance a horse’s gait. All horses ridden in any USEF sanctioned show must be flat shod only. Many non-gaited breed associations have voiced their condemnation of the practice.

There are still several voting and debating steps before this bill can be made law. Those who oppose soring have been waiting forty years for laws that will bring an end to the practice of soring. For those horses who are living in pain, the wait is far, far too long.
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