During the American Horse Council’s (AHC) annual meeting and issues forum in Washington D.C. the AHC Board of Trustees reaffirmed AHC support for the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (PAST Act). The PAST Act would strengthen the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and prevent the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses, and Racking Horses
“The AHC annual meeting brings together leaders from all segments of the horse industry and every major horse organization and allows them to discuss the issues they believe are most important to the industry,” said Julie Broadway, President of the AHC. “Soring is without a doubt painful for the horses subjected to this practice and even though it is limited to a small segment of the walking horse industry it damages the image of the entire horse industry. There is no question that ending soring is a priority for the horse industry and the AHC is committed to passing the PAST Act.”
Soring is an abusive practice that continues to be used by some horse trainers in the performance or “big lick” segment of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Spotted Saddle Horse, and Racking Horse industry. It usually involves the use of action devices, chemicals, stacks, wedges or other practices to cause pain in the horse’s forelegs to produce an accentuated show gait for competition. At the 2015 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration alone U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors identified 226 violations of the HPA.
No other breeds or disciplines’ have a history of soring, have a reason to sore their horses to accentuate their gait, or have been cited for HPA violations. In fact, since other breeds show at various gaits soring would be counterproductive and harm their ability to successfully compete.
The PAST Act would amend the HPA to prohibit a Tennessee Walking Horse, a Racking Horse, or a Spotted Saddle Horse, the three breeds with a history of soring, from being shown, exhibited, or auctioned with stacks, action devices or chains. These new prohibitions would not apply to other breeds that do not have a history of soring. The bill would also increase penalties for HPA violations and eliminate the current ineffective designated qualified persons (DQPs) program. A full description of the bill can be found here.
“The performance horse segment of the walking horse industry has had 46 years to end soring and has failed. Only by eliminating the stacks, chains, and action devices that are integral to soring, significantly increasing penalties and creating a new inspection program will soring finally end. The PAST Act is the only bill that takes these necessary steps,” continued Broadway. “For this reason the AHC Board voted to reaffirm the AHC’s support for the bill.”
Most major national horse show organizations support the PAST Act, including many walking horse organizations as well as many state and local horse organizations. A full list of organizations that support the PAST Act can be found here.
“The PAST Act has a level of bi-partisan Congressional support rarely achieved by most bills and currently has 259 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 50 in the Senate. The AHC will continue to work to pass this important legislation, but Congress needs to hear from their own constituents to prioritize and advance this bill,” said Ben Pendergrass AHC senior vice president, policy & legislative affairs.
The AHC urges all members of the horse industry to contact their Representative and Senators and tell them to take action on the PAST Act.
As the national association representing all segments of the horse industry in Washington, D.C., the American Horse Council works daily to represent equine interests and opportunities. Organized in 1969, the AHC promotes and protects the industry by communicating with Congress, federal agencies, the media and the industry on behalf of all horse related interests each and every day. The AHC is member supported by individuals and organizations representing virtually every facet of the horse world from owners, breeders, veterinarians, farriers, breed registries and horsemen's associations to horse shows, race tracks, rodeos, commercial suppliers and state horse councils.