Progress on Soring…and Kudos to USDA!

X-rays of sored horses may show surplus nails or screws added to increase the weight carried by the hoof or place pressure on the sole (Radiograph courtesy of USDA).

The AVMA has aggressively opposed “soring” of horses for more than 40 years.  For those of you not familiar with soring, either chemical or physical methods are used to deliberately inflict pain so as to exaggerate the gaits of certain types of horses (e.g., Tennessee Walking Horses). Owners and trainers use soring as an unfair and inhumane shortcut to traditional training methods, giving them a competitive edge in the showring.

Although the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970 made soring illegal and punishable by fines and imprisonment, the USDA still documented 2,346 violations of the HPA between 2008 and 2011.  And that was while attending fewer than 10% of the events where horses commonly subjected to the practice are shown! Prosecution of violators has been met by strong political resistance, challenging USDA’s efforts at enforcement and creating an environment where recidivism is the norm.

Yesterday USDA enforcement took a GIANT step forward as three offenders entered guilty pleas to violations of the HPA in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  One additional offender had previously pleaded guilty. Congratulations USDA…the AVMA commends you and is 100% behind you!

Want to learn more about soring and what you can do to help stop it? View our backgrounder at And while you’re at it, don’t forget to send a note of appreciation to the folks at USDA…Dr. Chester Gipson, Deputy Administrator of Animal Care ( and/or Dr. Rachel Cezar, Horse Protection Coordinator (  When e-mailing our colleagues please be sure to replace the “A” with an “@”…we’re avoiding the spambots.

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