DECEMBER 9, 2020
Today, Animal Wellness Action, Animal Wellness Foundation, Center for a Humane Economy, American Horse Protection Society, Join-Up International, and Horses for Life Foundation commemorate the Golden Anniversary of the Horse Protection Act (HPA), which was signed into law on December 9, 1970 by President Richard M. Nixon and authored by the late U.S. Senator, Joseph D. Tydings (D-MD). The intent of the HPA is to prohibit the showing, sale, auction, exhibition, or transport of sored horses. However, loopholes in the law allow for horse soring to persist.
The 50th anniversary of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) is a reminder that good legislation often becomes outdated, which necessitates contemporary reforms. Such is the case with the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R.693, which aims to finally end the horrific abuse of horse soring. Following the victorious passage of the bill in the U.S. House, its only path through the U.S. Senate is through modifications made to the language which include; a ban on chains and other action devices, prohibits barbaric tail braces, and raises penalties to a felony.
RECENT LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY
In July 2019, the House passed the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R.693, by a vote of 333 to 96. But, more than 16 months after passage of the legislation, the Senate hasn’t taken even the first step of action. If the U.S. Senate does not act on the measure, it will mark 50 years of stasis on the issue.
In 2020, U.S. House Agriculture Appropriators increased funding for HPA enforcement from $1 million to $2 million thanks to the work of U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY). The funding measure included language suggesting a failed 2017 Obama-era regulation to end soring should be implemented in 2021, thanks to the work of Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN). In addition, Cohen also championed a House floor amendment to provide $750,000 for a new USDA Office of Inspector General audit of its Horse Protection Program in 2021, yet not a single one of these initiatives has yet to be included in the Senate Agriculture Appropriations FY21 spending bill.
HOW TO HELP STOP HORSE SORING
Tennessee Walking Horse Stakeholders, Animal Protection Organizations Announce Historic Effort to End Abusive Practice of HORSE Soring
Nashville, TN (Nov. 12, 2020) — Animal Wellness Action, Animal Wellness Foundation, Center for a Humane Economy, Horses For Life Foundation, American Horse Protection Society and key stakeholders in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry announced a historic effort that seeks to end soring, protect the Tennessee Walking Horse and the breed, and preserve a show horse that the public will applaud. These key players have agreed to support legislation to ban action devices and tail braces, to dramatically reduce the size of the shoe, and to establish additional penalties for horse soring.
The Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970 authored by the late U.S. Senators Joe Tydings, D-MD, and Howard Baker, R-Tenn., was enacted to stamp out soring but left loopholes that have allowed the practice to persist. Over the past eight years more than 20 pieces of legislation and amendments to the HPA have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate geared at combating the painful practices of soring – the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ feet to achieve an unnatural high-step that trainers utilize to cheat and avert proper training practices. Not a single measure has been enacted, leaving a 50-year-old statute to govern management of regulated horse shows.
The U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 693/ S. 1007 (named only Prevent All Soring Tactics in the Senate) passed the U.S. House in July 2019 but is stalled in the U.S. Senate, with no reasonable prospects of that circumstance changing.
This is the ninth rendition of the bill since 2012, and the Senate has never taken up the bill on the floor. The Horse Protection Amendments Act, H.R. 1157/S. 1455, introduced on seven occasions in either the House or Senate, and supported by the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, has also not advanced. Even attempts to finalize regulations to end soring have long-failed at every turn.
Points of Agreement these Stakeholders Seek to Achieve in Compromise Legislation:
Additional points of clarification
Today Co-Chairs of the Congressional Veterinary Medicine Caucus, Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05) and Congressman Ted S. Yoho (R-FL-03), introduced the U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act to amend the Horse Protection Act of 1970, ending the abusive practice known as horse soring. This is the third consecutive Congress that Reps. Schrader and Yoho, veterinarians for more than 30 years and two of only three veterinarians currently in Congress, have introduced the PAST Act.
Soring is the practice of intentionally injuring the hooves and legs of Tennessee Walking Horses to exaggerate the leg motion of these high gaited horses. Even though it’s been illegal for over 50 years, it’s still widely practiced.
“Horse soring still runs rampant even though laws have been on the books for decades banning this cruel practice,” said Rep. Schrader. “We gave them a chance to self-police but the practice continued. Our bill will strengthen and improve current regulations by improving USDA enforcement, increasing civil and criminal penalties, and banning incentives to sore horses. It’s time for Congress to act and put an end to this abusive practice.”
“I am honored to join my fellow veterinarian, Rep. Kurt Schrader and various organizations who support the end of Horse Soring. As a veterinarian and lover of animals, we must continue to keep the pressure on a select group of bad actors in the Walking Horse industry. They must comply with existing law and stop this illegal practice for good,” said Rep. Yoho.
The bill is named in honor of Senator Joseph D. Tydings of Maryland who served in the Senate from 1965-1971. Sen. Tydings sponsored the Horse Protection Act of 1970 and devoted his life working to end the practice of soring. Last Congress, the bill received the support of 290 bipartisan cosponsors. The legislation is also supported by more than 280 organizations, associations and groups, including both veterinary advocates and horse industry professionals, supporting putting an end to this unnecessary and inhumane practice.
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