The Humane Society of the United States has formally flagged its support for new anti-soring regulations introduced by the US Department of Agriculture, which are being challenged through the courts.
The challenge prompted the society to file a friend-of-the-court brief.
It is asking the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to uphold the regulations, which require uniform mandatory minimum penalties for violations of the Horse Protection Act.
The district court in Texas previously ruled against the plaintiffs and upheld the regulations.
The Horse Protection Act prohibits the showing and transporting of horses who have been “sored” – an illegal practice involving the application of caustic chemicals and the use of other painful training methods to force horses to perform an artificially high-stepping gait for show competitions.
Horse industry organizations are the industry’s self-policing groups that operate alongside the USDA to conduct inspections at Tennessee walking horse competitions.
The USDA finalized the uniform penalties regulations in 2012 and were met with a lawsuit from a horse industry organization, SHOW Inc, and two participants in horse shows.
The appellants in the current appeal include the individual horse-show participants but not SHOW. Their arguments have already been rejected by the district court.