Skip to content

USDA Announces Changes Aimed at Ending the Inhumane Practice of Horse Soring



WASHINGTON, January 13, 2017--The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced a final rule that includes changes that will help to protect horses from the cruel and inhumane practice known as soring and eliminate the unfair competitive advantage that sore horses have over horses that are not sore. The practice of soring is intended to produce a high stepping gait through the use of action devices, caustic chemicals, and other practices that cause horses to suffer, or reasonably be expected to suffer physical pain, distress, inflammation, or lameness while walking or moving.
 
APHIS enforces the Horse Protection Act (HPA), which is a Federal law that makes it unlawful for any person to show, exhibit, sell, or transport sore horses, or to use any equipment, device, paraphernalia, or substance prohibited by USDA to prevent the soring of horse in such events.  APHIS works actively with the horse industry to eliminate such inhumane practices and the resulting unfair competition they create at HPA-covered events.
 
The final rule addresses recommendations made by the USDA’s Office of Inspector General following an audit of APHIS’ horse protection program, which found the existing industry-led inspection program to be inadequate for ensuring compliance with the HPA.  The rule also seeks to address the substantial noncompliance that continues to exist among Tennessee Walking Horses and racking horses and the relationship that continues to exist between the use of certain prohibited items and soring in horses, such as the use of permitted action devices alone or in conjunction with prohibited substances.
 

Under the final regulation—

APHIS will license, train, and oversee independent, third party inspectors, known as Horse Protection Inspectors, and establish the licensing eligibility requirements to reduce conflicts of interest.

To allow sufficient time to train and license HPIs and ensure an adequate number before the start of the 2018 show season, current Designated Qualified Person (DQP) licenses will remain valid until January 1, 2018.  Beginning January 1, 2018, management of horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions that elect to use inspection services, must appoint and retain a HPI to inspect horses.

Beginning January 1, 2018, the regulatory provisions applicable to Horse Industry Organizations and Associations are removed and are no longer effective.

Beginning 30 days after publication of the final rule, all action devices, except for certain boots, are prohibited on any Tennessee Walking Horse or racking horse at any horse show, exhibition, sale or auction.  All pads and wedges are prohibited are prohibited on any Tennessee Walking Horse or racking horse at any horse show, exhibition, sale or auction on or after January 1, 2018, unless such horse has been prescribed and is receiving therapeutic, veterinary treatment using pads or wedges.  This delayed implementation allows ample time to both gradually reduce the size of pads to minimize any potential physiological stress to the horses and prepare horses to compete in other classes.

Beginning January 1, 2018, management of HPA-covered events must, among other things, submit certain information records to APHIS, provide HPIs with access, space and facilities to conduct inspections, and have a farrier physically present to assist HPIs at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions that allow Tennessee Walking Horses or racking horses to participate in therapeutic pads and wedges if more than 150 horses are entered, and have a farrier on call if 150 or fewer horses are entered.


Congress passed the HPA to end the cruel and inhumane practice of soring horses and stop unfair competition.  Strengthening the HPA regulations and the enforcement of alleged violations is the best way to achieve this goal.  In addition, the prohibitions on the use of action devices and pads (with certain exceptions) are consistent with recommendations made by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and leading industry standards for equestrian sports.
 
This final rule will be publish in the Federal Register in the coming days. A copy of the rule that was submitted to the Federal Register can be viewed here.
 
The changes regarding the prohibitions on the use of action devices and associated lubricants for exhibitors of Tennessee Walking horses and racking horses, along with the training and licensing of inspectors will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The rest of the rule will be effective January 1, 2018.

More Stories

  • Latest Issue 5-1-17

    Read More
  • Kentucky Breeders Incentive Fund Eligible Shows

    The Walking Horse Owners' Association would like to announce that the upcoming Kentucky Breeders Incentive Fund Eligible shows scheduled for Saturday, April 29th and April 30th will be held on time... Read More
  • Obituary - Jimmie Wheeler

    Long time walking horse enthusiast, Mr. Jimmie D. “Jim” Wheeler, age 75, of Paducah, formerly of Sedalia, Ky. passed away Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at the Ray and Kay Eckstein Hospice Center in Paducah, Ky.  He was a member of Sedalia Baptist Church... Read More
  • UCWHA horse show affilates with TWHBEA International High Point program

    The Upper Cumberland Walking Horse Association is pleased to announce that the 44th Annual UCWHA High Point Show is also affiliated with TWHBEA’s International High Point Program. The show will be held May 13th... Read More
  • Perdue named Ag Secretary

    The U.S. Senate confirmed Monday evening, by a vote of 87-11, Sonny Perdue will serve as Agriculture Secretary. Perdue, the former two-term Republican governor of Georgia... Read More
  • Obituary - Karl Thompson

    The Report has recently learned of the passing of Karl Thompson. Mr. Thompson passed away due to an extended illness. He was a current resident at Tennessee State Veteran's Home in Murfreesboro... Read More
  • Did you know?

    The SHOW Rules Committee would like to remind all exhibitors, amateur and professionals about a rule that is being violated... Read More
  • Germantown judges announced

    The Germantown Charity Horse Show has announced the judges for its breed classes at this year’s show, with Dee Dee Miller of Lewisburg, Tenn., marking the cards for the walking horse competition... Read More
  • SHOW Rulebook Addendum as of April 3, 2017

    The following changes have been made to the SHOW Rulebook... Read More
  • Obituary - Jack Mitchell

    Long-time walking horse enthusiast Jack Mitchell passed away Friday, April 14, 2017 at Shepherd's Cove Hospice. Mitchell, an Alabama native, showed horses under the Bobo banner for many years and had several good champions, according to trainer Bill Bobo... Read More