Owners of Tennessee walking horses who are suspended for soring have the ability to sidestep the law by transferring the ownership of their horses to others so the animals can continue to compete, according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
The charity is urging the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to close what it describes as loopholes in penalties for violations of the Horse Protection Act.
The HSUS asserted some owners were using the strategy “on the rare occasions” when they were accused of soring – the illegal use of chemical or mechanical irritants to encourage the higher gait known as the Big Lick.
The society wants the USDA to prohibit owners who are suspended (and who sign a consent agreement instead of challenging the violation) from transferring ownership of their horses to someone else for the duration of the suspension.
It says it has uncovered several examples of owners employing this tactic.
In one case, it alleges one owner transferred 10 horses to her husband in circumstances that would allow the horses to continue to be shown, thwarting the intent of the penalty.