Warner applauds House passage of bill to end horse soring

The House voted 333-96 Thursday to approve the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) to protect horses from the abusive practice known as “soring,” in which show horse trainers intentionally apply substances or devices to horses’ limbs to make each step painful and force an exaggerated high-stepping gait rewarded in show rings. Although federal law currently prohibits soring, a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General (IG) has found that some horse trainers often go to great lengths to continue this inhumane practice.

“Horses have been a part of our Commonwealth’s history and culture since the settling of Jamestown, and like all animals, they deserve to be treated with care and compassion,” said Sen. Warner. “Now that the House has voted, on a bipartisan basis, to protect these animals from the cruel practice of inflicting deliberate suffering for show purposes, the Senate must act.”

Credit: W.Scott McGill

The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act would:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

The PAST Act has support from the American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, among others.

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