SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Aug. 23, 2012 — The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) urge veterinarians, owners, trainers, riders, event spectators, media and the public to redouble their efforts to identify and report sored horses at this year’s Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn. This includes reporting suspected soring activity in barns and training facilities in the Shelbyville area.

The AVMA and AAEP are urging vigilance because of concerns that sored horses will be participating at the Celebration.

For more than 40 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has worked diligently to enforce the Horse Protection Act (HPA), which prohibits soring. The USDA recently took another step toward ending soring by instituting mandatory penalties for violators.

SHOW, a horse industry organization (HIO) that will be inspecting horses during this year’s Celebration, is one of three HIOs for which the USDA is pursuing decertification, citing failure to comply with USDA mandatory penalties.

Despite SHOW’s claim of a 98.5 percent compliance rate with the HPA at events they inspect, USDA swab tests on 52 horses at the 2011 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration resulted in 52 positive findings for foreign substances.

According to the USDA, 37 of the 52 horses tested positive for one or more anesthetic agents. Anesthetic agents are frequently used to mask pain from soring during inspections.

In addition, three of the seven individuals listed as judges for this year’s Celebration have been cited for soring violations in years past.

“Soring is a federal crime in addition to being a felony offense in Tennessee,” said Dr. Doug Aspros, president of the AVMA. “It is up to each of us—veterinarians, inspectors, judges, owners, trainers, riders and even spectators at these shows—to take responsibility for ending soring. There must be zero tolerance for this abuse. While soring clearly violates the Horse Protection Act, failing to report soring is also ethically and professionally indefensible. We urge anyone with concerns to contact the USDA and local law enforcement officials.”

To heighten awareness and address failures in industry self-policing, the presidents of the AVMA and AAEP are issuing a joint call-to-action encouraging all veterinarians to aggressively identify and report violators of the Horse Protection Act and supporting strong USDA enforcement.

Related resource materials are available on AVMA and AAEP websites at

Report suspected cases of sored horses to:

Dr. Rachel Cezar
USDA/APHIS Horse Protection Coordinator


Shelbyville/Bedford County CrimeStoppers


Available for interviews:

  • Dr. Nat Messer, member of the AAEP Animal Welfare Committee
  • Dr. Harry Werner, member of the AVMA and AAEP Animal Welfare Committees
The AVMA, founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world, with more than 82,500 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 23, 2012

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