Categorized | Horse, Tips

An End To Horse Soring

There has been a lot of controversy in the equine world with regards to Tennessee Walking Horses over the past several months. The controversy arose following the introduction of a bill early this year that would end a practice known as ‘soring’ that gives the breed their distinctive walking gait. Despite the practice already being against other equine laws, soring has still been used, mainly due to a lack of the ability to police the practice. The bill seeking to end the practice would make up for the shortcomings in existing laws, and protect the regal breed from this horrendous abuse.

A Noble Breed, a Distinct Gait
Tennessee Walking Horses are best known for their distinct walking style, or gait. However, the horses do not naturally gain that trot all on their own, they must be trained to do so, and how trainers were making this breed get the gait is troubling to say the least. When Nightline teamed up with the Humane Society of the United States to expose the practice of soring to the world, the reaction was nearly immediate, explained The Daily News Journal.

stop horse soring

Soring is used to describe the torturous methods—including the use of kerosene gas, mustard oil, weighted boots, chains, and collars—used to make the Tennessee Walking Horses achieve their renowned ‘Big Lick,’ according to Open Secrets. The Nightline video was of a Hall of Fame trainer using these methods to ‘train’ the horse, but all the viewers saw was an individual burning and beating a defenseless horse.

A Bill to Change it All
Under the Horse Protection Act of 1970 (HPA), soring is already an outlawed practice, but the agency in charge of policing violations of the HPA, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) only has the manpower to police approximately 10 percent of the nation’s walking shows each year. This makes it all but impossible for the USDA to catch a fraction let alone all of the cases of soring happening in the country in a given year. That is why back in April another bill, the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (or PAST Act, H.R. 1518) was introduced by Representative Ed Whitefield from Kentucky.

The PAST Act would not only increase policing efforts, but also the penalties for those found to be engaging in these practices. There are strong opinions both for and against the passage of this bill as some feel it creates a conflict of interest on several levels, while others feel it is the only way to put an end to this abuse. Many animal rights advocacies, including the Humane Society and the American Veterinary Medical Association, have spent a great deal of money lobbying in favor of the bill.

The outcome of this bill could have serious impacts on equine law as it will require a lot more policing at shows with Tennessee Walking Horses. While there are strong opinions for and against the passing of this bill, there is no question that both sides strongly feel that something needs to be done to end the practice of soring once and for all.

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