The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking public comment on a proposal to withdraw a final rule that was on public inspection in the Federal Register on Jan. 20, 2017.

APHIS has for several years been working to update and strengthen our regulatory framework under the Horse Protection Act (HPA). Following several regulatory and legal developments, this withdrawal is a necessary step that will allow the Agency to move forward in strengthening the HPA regulations with transparency and appropriate public input. APHIS will soon propose a new rule to strengthen HPA requirements, incorporating data and the latest science gathered since 2016, including the 2021 National Academies of Science, “Review of Methods for Detecting Soreness in Horses.”

APHIS withdrew the 2017 HPA final rule from public inspection in accordance with a memorandum issued by the previous administration. However, following a lawsuit, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found this withdrawal to be unlawful.

The D.C. Circuit Court indicated that one appropriate remedial action is a proposed withdrawal, published in the Federal Register with an opportunity for public comment.

The Horse Protection Act is a federal law that prohibits sored horses from participating in shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions. The HPA also prohibits the transportation of sored horses to or from any of these events. APHIS is absolutely committed to protecting the welfare of horses under the HPA. 

This withdrawal rule may be viewed in today’s Federal Register. Beginning tomorrow, comments may be submitted at We will consider all comments that we receive on or before August 21, 2023.