Most of the horse people I know will do everything in their power to make sure their gentle giants are healthy and happy. 

As with any industry, however, there are those who will do anything to gain an advantage. 

The following from the Humane Society of the United States explains what they are doing to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

On Aug. 14, the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, seeking to compel the agency to reinstate a final rule that was duly issued, prescribed and promulgated in 2017, but withdrawn with the advent of a new administration. The final rule amended regulations under the Horse Protection Act that have allowed soring to fester for the entire 49 years since the Act’s passage.

It’s been a federal crime since 1970 to show horses that have been sored, or subjected to the intentional infliction of pain on their legs and hooves, to force them to step higher to gain a competitive edge in the show ring. But trainers in the Tennessee walking, spotted saddle and racking horse breeds have taken advantage of inadequate regulations that have allowed soring to continue unabated. 

The existing regulations allow chains to be hung around horses’ legs and for tall, heavy platform shoes or “stacks” to be nailed to their hooves. Also integral to the soring process are devices that exacerbate the pain of caustic chemicals burned into the horses’ skin and devices that conceal hard or sharp objects jammed into their tender soles. 

The current regulations also authorize an industry self-policing scheme that has facilitated the perpetuation of soring. In 2010, USDA’s inspector general released a comprehensive audit of the agency’s horse-protection program, concluding that the industry's self-policing system was fraught with conflicts of interest, inadequate to prevent soring and should be abolished.

“With today’s legal action, we are making clear that we intend to hold the federal government accountable for complying with its statutory obligations under the Horse Protection Act to end the cruelty of soring” said Kitty Block, the HSUS president and chief executive officer. “Our action also puts horse sorers on notice that we will not stop in our efforts to halt the cruelty they inflict on horses.”

Sara Amundson, president of the HSLF, said the organization's commitment to end soring is a lasting one. 

“It’s been a hard fight over the years because soring has powerful defenders,” Amundson said. “But we’ve never given up, and we’ve never been closer to securing its abolition than we are now.”

The HSUS has investigated the practice of soring for decades, bringing forth evidence that has deepened public awareness and outrage and resulted in cruelty convictions for trainers. This lawsuit and the organizations’ ongoing advocacy to pass the Prevent All Soring Tactics, or PAST, Act seek to deliver justice to the horses who have so long suffered as a result of soring. 

Animal lovers everywhere are encouraged to contact their U.S. senators to urge them to cosponsor the PAST Act and do all they can to help secure its passage.


— Pets and the People Who Love Them is brought to you by your friends at the Athens-Limestone Animal Shelter. To adopt a dog or cat, please visit the Athens-Limestone Animal Shelter at 1701 U.S. 72 in Athens (behind Limestone Veterinary Clinic), view our Facebook page or call us at 256-771-7889.

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