The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced strengthened Horse Protection Act regulations that would help deter horse soring and maintain horse welfare. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) have long sought and advocated for the end of the cruel practice of horse soring – this inhumane act deliberately causes a horse pain to exaggerate its gait and gain an advantage in horse shows.

“Ending the cruel and inhumane act of horse soring is long overdue and the strengthened regulations announced by the USDA will help end this needless suffering of horses by providing more enforcement mechanisms to maintain horse welfare,” said Dr. Rena Carlson, AVMA President. “Culminating years of sustained advocacy by the AVMA and AAEP to end horse soring, we thank the USDA for recognizing this need for greater protection and look forward to working with them as this new rule is implemented.”

“This is the beginning of a new era for horse health and welfare in the United States,” said Dr. Katie Garrett, AAEP President. “The AAEP is grateful for the perseverance of the many individuals and organizations who tirelessly advocated for stronger protections.”

The updated regulations include:

  • Eliminating industry self-regulation and the role of industry-backed Designated Qualified Persons as inspectors at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions. Only APHIS inspectors and independent non-APHIS-employed horse protection inspectors screened, trained, and authorized by APHIS will have inspection authority.
  • Prohibiting any device, method, practice, or substance applied to a horse that can cause or is associated with soring.
  • Prohibiting on Tennessee Walking or racking horses all action devices and non-therapeutic pads, artificial toe extensions, and wedges, as well as all substances on the extremities above the hoof, including lubricants.
  • Removing the scar rule from the regulations and replacing it with a more accurate description of visible dermatological changes indicative of soring.
  • Amending recordkeeping and reporting requirements for management at covered events to better enforce the HPA.

The rule will be effective starting February 1, 2025. 

About the AVMA

Serving more than 105,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation’s leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members’ unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.

About the AAEP
The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., was founded in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. Currently, the AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its over 9,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.

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Post Type

  • Press Release

Topic

  • Equine Welfare
  • Governance
  • Welfare

Publish Date

May 20, 2024

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