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

  • Disposition and versatility on display

    Four winners from the second annual Take A Ride on multi-World Champion Line Item Veto Facebook contest traveled to Midland Equestrian Center for an enjoyable visit and rides on Veto... Read More
  • Live from Money Tree Fall Classic & PC Splash

    ReporTV will be live from the Money Tree Fall Classic on Friday, September 22nd, beginning at 6:00 pm and on Saturday, September 23rd for the PC Splash Classic, beginning at 5:00 pm. Highlights from both shows will be posted the following day. Read More
  • Thomas earns Pleasure Horse Trainer of the Year award

    The Walking Horse Trainers’ Association Board of Directors decided to add a well-overdue and deserved category to their list of awards last year. The Pleasure Horse Trainer of the Year is voted on by their peers and must demonstrate positive attitude, dedication, motivation, is a team player, and an ambassador to their breed. Read More
  • Deadline for Fall Stallion Issue

    The annual Walking Horse Report World Champion Sire Summary and Fall Stallion issue will be the October 2, 2017 issue. The advertising deadline for the issue will be Wednesday, September 27, 2017 and the issue will mail on Friday, September 29, 2017. Read More
  • Obituary - Howard Creed

    Howard C. Creed, 83, of Springfield, Missouri, passed away September 19, 2017. He was born July 29, 1934, in Springfield, Missouri, and graduated Sr. High School in 1952. He served in the Army where he learned his lifetime trade of horse shoeing, which he did for 57 years... Read More
  • Maverick fights his way to the top

    He’s had a solid, steadily upward moving career that’s landed him so close more than once. Finally, the nine-year-old stallion — with the help of his tenacious owners, a dedicated trainer, and a supporting staff of many — earned the roses. Read More
  • Obituary - James Robert "Bob" Nelms

    Mr. James Robert “Bob” Nelms, age 67, of College Grove, Tennessee, died Monday, September 18, 2017 at his home in College Grove.  Read More
  • Honors loves all

    A huge crowd met Honors and Larry Edwards at the Celebration Saturday evening, Sept. 2, 2017, at the meet and greet for 2016 WGC Honors in front of the Blue Ribbon Club on the final night of the Celebration. Read More
  • WGC A Gin To Win visits TN State Fair

    Friday, September 15th, Abernathy Stables traveled to the Tennessee State Fair to exhibit current Three-Year-Old World Grand Champion, A Gin To Win. The Tennessee State Fair has been going on for more than 150 years and this year the Fair’s theme is “Tennessee Proud.” Read More
  • Celebration announces host hotel for Tunica Fall Classic

    The Celebration is pleased to announce that they have selected The Gold Strike Resort and Casino to again serve as host hotel for the Tunica Fall Classic, scheduled for November 2-4, 2017.  Read More