U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia) reintroduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act to protect horses from abusive show practices.  Soring is a process by which horse trainers intentionally apply devices or caustic substances to horses’ limbs to make each step painful and force an exaggerated high-stepping gait (called the “Big Lick”) rewarded with higher marks in show rings.  Although federal law prohibits soring, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General (IG) report found that some horse trainers continue this inhumane practice.

“I support the humane treatment of all animals and the responsible training of horses, said Crapo. “Equestrian sports have implemented rules to ensure the welfare of the horses, but changes are needed to address loopholes that allow the continued suffering of sored horses. Soring is an inhumane practice and the PAST Act would finally end this horrible custom.”

“Horses are a quintessential part of Virginia’s culture and history, and they deserve comprehensive, enforceable protections from abuse of any sort,” said Warner.  “I am proud to reintroduce the bipartisan PAST Act to strengthen protections against horse soring and crack down on the perpetrators of this disturbing abuse.”

The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act would:

  1. Eliminate self-policing by requiring the USDA to assign a licensed inspector if the show’s management indicates intent to hire one.  Licensed or accredited veterinarians, if available, would be given preference for these positions.
  2. Prohibit the use of action devices and pads on specific horse breeds that have a history of being the primary victims of soring.  Action devices, such as chains that rub up and down an already-sore leg, intensify the horse’s pain when it moves so that the horse quickly jolts up its leg.
  3. Increase consequences on individuals caught soring a horse, including raising the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony, which is subject to up to three years’ incarceration, increasing fines from $3,000 to $5,000 per violation, and permanently disqualifying three-time violators from participating in horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions.

In August 2023, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service proposed a rule to strengthen Horse Protection Act requirements and eliminate the use of horse soring at horse shows, exhibitions, sales and auctions.

“The AVMA strongly endorses the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act and is a longtime advocate for eliminating the cruel and inhumane practice of horse soring,” said Dr. Rena Carlson, Idaho veterinarian and president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  “The PAST Act would end the needless suffering of horses by providing enforcement mechanisms to preserve horse welfare.  We thank Senators Warner and Crapo for their leadership on this critical issue facing the veterinary profession and urge Congress to swiftly pass the proposed legislation.”

“Soring is an abject cruelty, carried out on the backs of horses by those seeking to call themselves ‘grand champions,’” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.  “The real losers here are the horses who have endured the ‘Big Lick’ for decades in spite of federal law meant to protect them.  Fortunately, we have our own equine champions in Senators Crapo and Warner, leading the way by mobilizing half the Senate to demonstrate continued broad, bipartisan support for the PAST Act and encourage USDA to swiftly complete its rulemaking to fix weak regulations that have allowed this cruelty to persist.”

“The cruel practice of horse soring–inflicting pain and injury in horses’ legs and hooves to force them into an unnatural, high-stepping gait known as the “Big Lick” –has gone on for far too long while serial abusers have gamed the system and horses have suffered,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “The PAST Act, widely championed by humane advocates and the equine industry, received overwhelming support last Congress, and we are grateful to Senators Warner and Crapo for reintroducing this critical bill to finally end this abuse once and for all.”

“For many years, the American Association of Equine Practitioners has championed legislation to end this cruel practice, and the reintroduction of this important bill by Senator Crapo and Senator Warner to protect horses is vital,” said Dr. Katherine Garrett, 2024 American Association of Equine Practitioners president.  “We now will work for passage along with our more than 9,000 equine veterinarian and student members and the industry.”

“On behalf of the American Horse Council (AHC) and its members, I offer Senator Mike Crapo and Senator Mark Warner our profound gratitude for their commitment and leadership in introducing the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act,” said Julie M. Broadway, president of American Horse Council & American Horse Council Foundation.  “We hope that through their efforts, the 118th Congress will act and fulfill the promise and purpose of the Horse Protection Act which is to eliminate the horrific practice of soring. The current industry self-inspection model needs to be fixed as inspections by the USDA clearly and convincingly demonstrate that horses continue to be sored and mistreated.  Adopting the PAST Act will restore public trust and confidence in competitions, auctions, and exhibitions featuring specific breeds of gaited horses.”

“We commend Senators Crapo and Warner for their unwavering commitment to protecting Tennessee Walking Horses and related gaited breeds that have been victimized for the sake of winning awards and cash prizes,” said Dr. Joanna Grossman, equine program director for the Animal Welfare Institute.  “Soring involves a wide range of abhorrent and cruel practices that have persisted for decades.  The PAST Act includes desperately needed reforms that would build on the legacy of the Horse Protection Act.  As this legislation enjoys broad bipartisan support, we urge Congress to pass the PAST Act quickly to protect horses from abuse.”

Crapo and Warner are joined in introducing the legislation by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Laphonza Butler (D-California), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Robert Casey (D-Pennsylvania), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), John Fetterman (D-Pennsylvania), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire), Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico), John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Chris Muphy (D-Connecticut), Patty Murray (D-Washington), Jon Ossof (D-Georgia), Alex Padilla (D-California), Gary Peters (D-Michigan), Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Arizona), Tina Smith (D-Minnesota), Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Peter Welch (D-Vermont), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin).

Post Type

  • Press Release

Topic

  • Equine Welfare
  • Horses
  • Welfare

Publish Date

March 21, 2024

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