The Humane Society of the United States has applauded US authorities including the Agriculture Office of Inspector General, The Justice Department, and the US Attorney's Office in Knoxville, Tennessee, for obtaining a horse-soring abuse indictment against three Tennessee horse owners under the Federal Horse Protection Act.
Soring is the practice of applying chemical irritants to burn skin or inserting screws or other foreign objects into the sensitive areas of a horse's hooves, causing severe pain to the front legs or feet.
Because of the pain, horses raise their front legs immediately after touching the ground, thus producing the exaggerated gait rewarded in show rings of the Tennessee Walking Horse and other gaited breeds. Horses who are sored often live in constant pain, unable to stand or move comfortably.
Congress enacted the Horse Protection Act in 1970, making it a federal offence to show, sell, auction, and exhibit or transport a sored horse, or a horse whose hooves have been chemically or physically altered to inflict pain that causes an exaggerated gait in the showring common among Tennessee Walking Horses and other gaited breeds.
"This decision sends a clear message to anyone who sores a gaited show horse that the US Department of Agriculture can and will take allegations of violations of the Horse Protection Act seriously," said Keith Dane, director of equine protection for the society.
Dane, who has been tracking the issue of horse soring for more than 25 years, said alleged violators of the Horse Protection Act are rarely indicted on charges.
Despite more than 40 years of Horse Protection Act enforcement, the lack of an effective deterrent against soring has allowed the practice to continue.
From 2007 to 2009, Department of Agriculture veterinarians found an average of nearly 500 violations of the law each year - even though they attended only about six per cent of all shows at which Tennessee Walking Horses and related breeds were exhibited due to limited agency resources.
USDA-Office of Inspector General special-agent-in-charge Karen Citizen-Wilcox said in a department-issued press release: "The USDA-OIG will continue to aggressively pursue violations of the Horse Protection Act in order to protect horses and competitors from illegal and unfair acts and practices."
About the author
As an animal lover since childhood, Flossie was delighted when Mark, the CEO and developer of EquiMed asked her to join his team of contributors.
She enrolled in My Horse University at Michigan State and completed a number of courses in everything related to horse health, nutrition, diseases and conditions, medications, hoof and dental care, barn safety, and first aid.
Staying up-to-date on the latest developments in horse care and equine health is now a habit, and she enjoys sharing a wealth of information with horse owners everywhere..