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USDA Animal Care Provides Update on Its Horse Protection Program

Managers at horse shows/exhibitions/sales/auctions regulated under the Horse Protection Act continue to help USDA strive toward our shared goals of ending the practice of soring horses and restoring fair competition.

To further this collaborative relationship, Bernadette Juarez has issued a letter to these managers updating them on the refinements APHIS has made to the USDA Horse Protection Program. The letter, summarized below, can be found in its entirety here.

Animal Care’s 5-year strategic plan emphasizes building trusted relationships with the regulated horse industry as a key to promoting animal welfare. To this end, Juarez has met with dozens of organizations, associations, managers, exhibitors, trainers and owners to begin the very real process of earning the trust of these valuable stakeholders. Her letter is a reflection of USDA’s commitment to delivering the change they desire. 

 First, Animal Care shifted the day-to-day oversight of Horse Protection Act inspections from its headquarters office to its field operations team. This will provide more direct oversight and leadership. 

 Second, USDA proposed changing the Horse Protection Act regulations to, among other things, strengthen the system for detecting soreness in horses, and refine the list of devices, equipment, substances, and practices that are prohibited to prevent the soring of horses.

 Third, we have diligently reminded horse show managers that the Horse Protection Act directs them – not USDA – to disqualify or prohibit sored horses from participating in their events. 

 Finally, Juarez has initiated a comprehensive review of Animal Care’s website, publications and correspondence to better provide information and eliminate out-of-date content. 

 “It is my strongest belief that our refinements will enable us to accomplish what we have been trying to do ever since the Horse Protection Act was created in 1970,” Juarez said. “With the continued assistance from the horse industry and the support of all our stakeholders, we are one step closer to ending the soring of horses and restoring fair competition at events covered by the Horse Protection Act.”

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