Major vet groups back anti-soring bill

Thermographic image showing excessive warmth (seen as red and orange colors), which may be caused by inflammation from soring. The pattern seen is consistent with soring using a chemical agent.
Thermographic image showing excessive warmth (seen as red and orange colors), which may be caused by inflammation from soring. The pattern seen is consistent with soring using a chemical agent. © USDA

A new bill aimed at strengthening the existing ban on horse soring has the support of two major veterinary groups in the United States.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) said they supported the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (PAST), HR 1518.

The bill seeks to eliminate horse soring by improving the US Department of Agriculture’s enforcement capabilities and strengthening penalties against violators, among other provisions.

Soring is the intentional use of pain in Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses, and Racking Horses to produce a high-stepping, unnatural gait.

It involves the use of chemical and mechanical irritants on the lower legs to sensitise the tissues and encourage a higher gait.

Despite being illegal for more than 40 years, shortfalls in funding and other resources needed for enforcement at the federal level have contributed to a culture of corruption where the practice remains prevalent in shows and auctions in certain pockets of the US.

“Soring of horses is an inhumane practice that veterinarians are, unfortunately, still seeing. It has crippling physical and mental effects on horses,” said AVMA president Dr Douglas Aspros.

“It’s sad when winning a show takes precedence over the health and welfare of the horse.

“As veterinarians, we simply can’t stand by and allow horses to be abused. We encourage Congress to quickly pass HR 1518 and put an end to the inhumane and unethical practice of soring, once and for all.”

Specifically, the bill proposes to:

  • Make the actual act of soring, or directing another person to cause a horse to become sore, illegal, whereas the original act only banned showing, transporting, or auctioning a horse that was sore, not the actual practice;
  • Prohibit the use of action devices (eg, boot, collar, chain, roller, or other device that encircles or is placed upon the lower extremity of the leg of a horse) on any limb of Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses, or Racking Horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions and bans weighted shoes, pads, wedges, hoof bands, or other devices that are not used for protective or therapeutic purposes;
  • Increases civil and criminal penalties for violations, and creates a penalty structure that requires horses to be disqualified for increasing periods of time based on the number of violations;
  • Allows for permanent disqualification from the show ring after three or more violations; and
  • Requires the US Department of Agriculture (rather than the current structure of horse industry self-regulation) to license, train, assign and oversee inspectors to enforce the Horse Protection Act.

AAEP President Dr Ann Dwyer said: “Soring is one of the most significant equine welfare issues in the United States.

“Federal legislation is the only action that will end this decades-long abuse of horses, and we urge all within the veterinary and horse-owning communities to join us in supporting this bill’s passage.”


Earlier report: New bill aims to toughen anti-soring laws

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2 thoughts on “Major vet groups back anti-soring bill

  • April 15, 2013 at 3:05 am

    For the record I’m against abuse or soaring as you call it to the Walking Horse as well as other gaited breeds and even non-gaited. Abuse is abundant in the equine world and you well know it.
    I promote the showing of non-abused horses so if I feel a horse is not compliant with the HPA I simply do not ask the owner to run an ad on my show. My problem with this bill is it punishes both the bad and the good in one breed while allowing pressure shoeing, injection and soaring abuse in other breeds. This bill also protects the non-gaited breeds from prosecution, which allows them to continue to bleed hang and abuse their breed for performance reasons.
    You set in judgment of one breed and turn your back to the cruel abuse that goes on in other breeds. This act makes what you are doing far worse than the crime that you will be committing if the bill passes.
    Stick your head in the sand and pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about but remember video even unedited video does not lie.

    • May 6, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      This bill does not “fix” every kind of abuse to all horses. That isn’t a valid reason not to support it. Every decent person agrees, I think, that soring cannot be tolerated in a civilized society. This bill should be passed and, more importantly, enforced to the full extent of the law. Nobody who is familiar with the horse world thinks that this fixes all abuse. Plenty left to work on, unfortunately, and we should all continue to do that.


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