Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH) applauds the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee in Knoxville for the successful criminal prosecution of Barney Davis, a horse trainer from Tennessee for violation of the Horse Protection Act (HPA). Mr. Davis was sentenced to 12 months and one day and to pay a $4000 fine for the cruel abuse of soring a gaited horse which is illegal under the HPA. He is also ordered to either write an article or cooperate in the production of an educational video describing horse soring methods and their short and long term effects on the horses; how widespread the practice still is in the industry; and demonstrating how inspectors can better detect sored horses. This is the first HPA criminal prosecution in twenty years.
The seven month long investigation was conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General (USDA OIG) Agent Julie McMillan. The efforts of McMillan and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are especially commendable in light of few prosecutions in recent years by Animal Plant and Health Inspection Services (APHIS), a department at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that is responsible for enforcing the HPA. Despite the USDA issuing hundreds of tickets during the period 2007-2011, the Department has taken action against only a few violators with no criminal prosecutions.
Soring of horses is the cruel and deliberate infliction of chemical or mechanical pain upon a horse’s hooves and limbs to create an unnatural, exaggerated, extreme action, high stepping gait for the show ring. Soring is a major animal welfare issue that has been illegal for over forty years under the HPA yet the practice is still widespread in show rings of Tennessee Walking Horses and Spotted Saddle Horses.
FOSH is a national leader in the promotion of natural, sound gaited horses and in the fight against abuse and soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. For more information about FOSH or to become a member, please visit www.fosh.info or e-mail [email protected].