Poll of Kentucky voters points to broad support for anti-soring legislation

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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
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 survey of Kentucky voters points to widespread opposition to horse soring and broad backing for federal legislation to strengthen the law against the illegal practice.

Soring is the intentional infliction of pain on the hooves and legs of Tennessee walking horses and related breeds. It involves the use of caustic chemicals and chains on their legs, and undesirably short hoof trimming, to make the horses perform the exaggerated high-stepping gait called the Big Lick.

The findings of the survey of 625 registered Kentucky voters, released on the eve of the US elections, revealed that 78% of poll respondents said they supported legislative reforms to end soring.

The opposition to soring cut across age, gender, political affiliations and geographic regions in the state.

The statewide telephone poll, commissioned by the Humane Society of the United States, was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida, between October 12 and 15. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.

A similar poll of Tennessee voters earlier this year found 82% of voters in that state, which is home to the largest walking horse event, the National Celebration, ​also support ​legislation to end horse soring.

Writing in her blog, A Humane Nation, the humane society’s president and chief executive, Kitty Block, said the overwhelming majority indicated support for legislation introduced to Congress in a bid to crack down on soring.

The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, which the society has supported from the outset, has already passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.

“The PAST Act would amend the 1970 Horse Protection Act to end this cruelty once and for all,” Block wrote.

“It was carefully crafted with the input of numerous horse industry​, veterinary​, and animal protection stakeholder groups, including the ​American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, the Humane Society ​of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund.

“Other breeds that have not historically been subjected to this cruelty are not impacted by the legislation.

“The bill is also endorsed by hundreds of organizations and individuals in the equestrian, veterinary, law enforcement and animal protection communities, and it has the support of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, as was clear from the 333-96 vote when the House passed it last year.

“It’s now up to the US Senate, where 52 Senators (more than half the chamber) are ​cosponsoring the bill, to do the right thing by animals and move this bill forward.

“The bill will end the failed system of industry self-policing, ban ​all of the devices integral to soring, strengthen penalties and hold abusers accountable — all for negligible cost as determined by the Congressional Budget Office.”

Block urged people to contact their senators to urge them to support the bill and do all they can to get it enacted quickly.

“Trainers and horse owners have gotten away with soring walking horses and related breeds for ​decades, as our own investigations have shown, and every day our lawmakers delay the passage of this legislation is one more day of abject suffering and pain for the victims of these scofflaws.”

The poll showed greater awareness of the soring issue among older generations. The degree of awareness of the issue was identical between Democrats and Republicans, and slightly lower for independents.

Support for the legislation was slightly stronger among younger generations.

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