USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is proposing regulation changes to revise and strengthen the Horse Protection Act regulations to better protect horses from the cruel and inhumane practice of soring.
USDA's goals in upholding and enforcing the Horse Protection Act are to achieve the dual purposes of the Act: eliminate the cruel and inhumane practice of soring; and eliminate unfair competition by persons showing, exhibiting and selling sore horses. New window. 
Soring is a practice in which certain gaited breeds of horses are subjected to chemical and/or mechanical irritants to enhance their gait and provide a competitive advantage in shows, exhibitions, sales and auctions.
USDA's proposal to amend the current regulations would make two significant changes:
- USDA would train, license and screen all horse inspectors. Currently, horse industry organizations handle these responsibilities, but in a 2010 audit the Office of Inspector General stated this regulatory structure is ineffective because many industry-trained inspectors have conflicts of interest. Under the proposed rule, inspectors would be independent veterinarians or animal health technicians who are licensed by USDA and have no affiliation with any horse industry organizations. USDA would oversee this new group of independent inspectors.
- USDA would prohibit the use of all action devices, pads and foreign substances that may be used to sore horses. Action devices include boots, collars, chains or rollers that are placed on a horse's lower leg to accentuate the animal's gait. Pads (or weights) are often stacked and inserted between the hoof and shoe and then tightened into place with metal bands around the hoof. With respect to foreign substances, the regulations currently prohibit the use of chemical irritants such as mustard oil, diesel fuel and kerosene that are applied to a horse's legs, while allowing the use of lubricants, at certain times, provided by show management. The proposed rule seeks to prohibit all foreign substances, including lubricants.
It is reported that USDA's proposed changes would bring the Horse Protection Act regulations into alignment with existing standards established by the U.S. Equestrian Federation – the governing body for equestrian sports in America. However, some horse professionals are questioning whether or not the USDA's proposed changes are adequately informed as to how they would affect all facets of equestrians sports.
Among those questioning some of the proposed changes is the Equestrian Professional horse business website which has an article related to these proposed changes: What You Need to Know About the Proposed Changes to the Horse Protection Act . 
In addition, Equestrian Professionals is also offering a free webinar: Topic: Understanding the Proposed Changes to The Horse Protection Act 
Date: Monday October 17, 2016 Time: 5:30 PM PDT -- 7:30 PM CDT -- 8:30 EDT Place: Attend via your phone or computer Duration: 60 minutes Summary: This webinar will feature a panel of horse industry experts and advocates. During this webinar you will find out why so many horse professionals, owners and equestrian associations are concerned about the proposed USDA changes to The Horse Protection Act. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions and share your opinions and ideas. More
USDA welcomes your input on this proposed rule. Your participation is key. The public comment period runs from July 26 – Oct. 26, 2016. View the entire regulatory docket and submit your comments .
USDA's goals in upholding and enforcing the Horse Protection Act are to achieve the dual purposes of the Act: eliminate the cruel and inhumane practice of soring; and eliminate unfair competition by persons showing, exhibiting and selling sore horses. With this proposal to develop and enact new regulations, USDA seeks to attain these goals.
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