Senate Committee Approves PAST Act

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The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (PAST Act) (S.1406). The PAST Act would strengthen the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and finally end the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses and Racking Horses. The AHC has been working to advance this important piece of legislation in both the Senate and House and is pleased it is one step closer to passage.

Soring is an abusive practice used by some horse trainers in the Tennessee Walking Horse, Spotted Saddle Horse and Racking Horse industry. It usually involves the use of action devices, chemicals, pads, wedges or other practices to cause pain in the horse's forelegs and produce an accentuated show gait for competition. Despite the existence of a federal ban on soring for over 40 years, this cruel practice continues in some segments of the Walking Horse industry.

The PAST act would amend the HPA to prohibit a Tennessee Walking Horse, a Racking Horse or a Spotted Saddle Horse from being shown, exhibited or auctioned with an "action device" or "a weighted shoe, pad, wedge, hoof band or other device or material" if it is constructed to artificially alter the gait of the horse and is not strictly protective or therapeutic. These new prohibitions would not apply to other breeds that do not have a history of soring.

The legislation would also increase fines and penalties for violations, including the potential for a lifetime ban for repeat offenders.

The bill would create a new licensing process for horse show inspectors, eliminating the current ineffective designated qualified persons (DQPs) program. The bill would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to train, license and appoint new independent inspectors for shows and other HPA-regulated activities that wish to hire an inspector. Licensed or accredited veterinarians would be given preference for these positions. The decision to hire and cost of an inspector would still reside with the management of a show, sale or auction.

Most major national horse show organizations support the PAST Act, including the American Quarter Horse Association, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Paint Horse Association, U.S. Equestrian Federation, the American Morgan Horse Association, the Pinto Horse Association of America, the Arabian Horse Association, the American Saddlebred Horse Association, the United Professional Horsemen's Association, and the Appaloosa Horse Club as well as many state and local horse organizations. The bill has broad bi-partisan support and currently has 50 co-sponsors in the Senate and 267 co-sponsors in the House.

The bill must now be considered by the full Senate.