AVMA urges U.S. House to pass bill to end the abusive practice of soring

Deliberately inflicting pain to exaggerate the leg motion of gaited horses through the practice of “soring” is unethical and inhumane and must be stopped, an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) official told a U.S. House subcommittee today on Capitol Hill.

AVMA’s Dr. Ron DeHaven urges Congress to support H.R. 1518 to end the abusive practice of soring horses. / Photo credits: Molly Riley/AVMA

In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, AVMA’s Chief Executive and Executive Vice President Dr. Ron DeHaven urged Congress to pass H.R. 1518, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, which will provide the regulatory oversight necessary to protect the health and well-being of our nation’s walking horses.

“As the former administrator to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service charged with overseeing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, I have witnessed the long-lasting and damaging effects that soring has on horses and feel that this bill is necessary to stop a culture of abuse that has existed for more than 40 years in the walking horse industry,” DeHaven testified. “It is my hope that the members of the subcommittee will swiftly markup and favorably report the PAST Act, which will provide the statutory changes necessary to protect the health and welfare of our nation’s walking horses.”

Despite being illegal in shows, sales or exhibits for more than 40 years under the Horse Protection Act (HPA), the actual act of soring itself has yet to be outlawed, and the veterinary profession continues to see the irreversible mental and physical effects that soring has on Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses, and Racking Horses.

The PAST Act would amend the HPA to take many important and necessary steps to end soring, such as: making the actual act of soring illegal; overhauling the USDA’s enforcement system to remove the inherent conflicts of interest with the horse industry self-regulation; banning incentives to sore; and improving the penalty structure against violators, among other provisions.

Read more about the hearing in AVMA’s press release or in Dr. DeHaven’s full testimony. Listen to Dr. DeHaven’s opening remarks to the subcommittee. Photos from the event are available on the AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network’s Facebook page. AVMA members who support the PAST Act are encouraged to write their members of Congress and urge them to pass this important legislation.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s website has links to the other witnesses’ testimonies and background materials as well as an archived video of the entire webcast.

For more information about soring, visit www.avma.org/soring, or for specifics on the legislation, see AVMA’s issue brief.

6 thoughts on “AVMA urges U.S. House to pass bill to end the abusive practice of soring

  1. THE NATURE OF WALKING HORSE LEADERS IS TO DENY, DENY, DENY. IF THE LEADERS OF THE TWHNC, THE TWHBEA, THE TN WALKING HORSE TRAINERS ASSN AND THE WALKING HORSE OWNERS ASSN HAD BEEN ASKED BEFORE THE VIDEO OF A JACKIE MCCONNELL SORING AND BEATING HIS HORSES IF THERE WAS ANY TRAINER IN THIS BREED THAT WOULD DO THAT TO A HORSE, THEIR ANSWER FROM ALL WOULD BE THE SAME: NOOOOOOOOOO!!! THE SIZE OF THE BUILD UPS ON THESE HORSE HAS GOTTEN RIDICULOUS! LOOK AT THE SIZE OF BUILD UPS ON SADDLEBREDS AND MORGANS. THIS IS HOW WALKING HORSES SHOULD BE SHOD. NOT WITH A SHOW PACKAGE THAT IS LARGER THAT THE HORSE’S OWN FOOT. ANY HORSE THAT NEEDS THAT MUCH OF A BUILD UP IS NOT NATURALLY HIGH STEPPING!

  2. Those horses are undergoing torture. Why anyone thinks the way they move is beautiful is beyond my comprehension. Thanks AVMA for helping to stop this horrible practice.

  3. I’m certain there was an effort to make soring illegal during the time I was at the University of Illinois. We discussed the issue as students in the late 1960′s. Seemed as though everyone agreed except, perhaps, those who were doing the soring. What happened? Why was effort toward legislation and regulation dropped?
    This should not be news. It should be over and done. Are we still as ignorant, barbaric and cruel as we once were? Do we still beat a horse when he won’t pull?
    We should be ashamed.

  4. Could be done, should be done, must be done. Thank you AVMA for taking a stand and voicing your objection to this cruel practice.

    • ASHAMED IS NOT ENOUGH REALLY. THESE KNUCKLEHEADS SHOULD DO TIMR IN JAIL. OR SORE THEIR LEGS AND HANG CHAINS ON THEM. MY GUESS IS THEY WOULD DO THE BIG LICK REAL FAST.