​(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois)—The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) hand delivered a joint letter to the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today. The organizations urge the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to move forward with proposed amendments to the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and deny requests from certain factions within affected industries to extend the comment period beyond the current September 26 deadline.

The proposed rule contains regulations that could end the practice of soring which involves deliberately causing pain to artificially exaggerate the leg motion of a horse’s gait. The practice is commonly used on “big lick” Tennessee Walking Horses, but other gaited horses may also suffer from this practice.

The AVMA and AAEP have been strongly committed to ending the practice of soring for more than 40 years.

“These requests from the industry are intended only to stall implementation of the rule,” said Dr. Ron DeHaven, Executive Vice President and CEO of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “A 60 day delay would ensure that the rule would not be implemented during the current administration and cause further delay in the implementation of long-overdue changes leading to the diminished welfare of more horses.”

Attempts at a legislative solution to this problem have achieved wide bipartisan support but have been thwarted before reaching the floor for a vote.

The proposed rule would address the issue of soring through amendments to the Horse Protection Act. Two significant changes are:

  • USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) would assume responsibility for training, screening and licensing horse inspectors. Instead of allowing horse industry organizations to handle these responsibilities, which can be ineffective due to conflicts of interest, inspectors would be veterinarians and veterinary technicians required to follow USDA rules and standards of conduct.
  • USDA-APHIS would ban the use of all action devices, pads, and foreign substances at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions. This would align the HPA regulations with existing equestrian standards set forth by the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

The proposed rule is available for public comment at http://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS-2011-0009. Comments can be submitted through September 26.

In addition, APHIS will be hosting a series of meetings where the public can provide additional comments and feedback. Future meetings are scheduled for:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 6, in Riverdale, Md.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 15, a call-in virtual public meeting.

To register or learn more about the public meetings, visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalwelfare/horse-protection-amendments.

AVMA currently endorses the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) policy on “The Practice of Soring.” In addition, the AVMA has policy on the abolition of action devices and performance packages.

To learn more about soring, visit the AVMA’s resources on the subject at avma.org/soring.

For more information, or to schedule an interview, contact Sharon Granskog, AVMA media relations, at 847-285-6619 (office), 847-280-1273 (cell), or sgranskog@avma.org.

The AVMA, founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world, with more than 88,000 member veterinarians worldwide engaged in a wide variety of professional activities and dedicated to the art and science of veterinary medicine.

Post Type

  • Press Release

Publish Date

August 30, 2016

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