17 January 2017

WELFARE - New Regulation Aims to End Horse Soring

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced the final version of a rule that will help protect horses from the practice of soring.

(Soring image and x-ray, USDA)
Soring has been viewed as a controversial practice by people within and outside of the horse world.

The Humane Society of the United States says, “Soring involves the intentional infliction of pain to a horse's legs or hooves in order to force the horse to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait. Caustic chemicals—blistering agents like mustard oil, diesel fuel and kerosene—are applied to the horse's limbs, causing extreme pain and suffering.”

They go on to describe a particularly egregious form of soring, known as pressure shoeing, that involves cutting a horse's hoof almost to the quick and tightly nailing on a shoe, or standing a horse for hours with the sensitive part of his soles on a block or other raised object. This causes pressure and pain whenever the horse puts weight on the hoof.

The final rule, which is part of the Horse Protection Act, will be published soon in the Federal Register and become effective by next January.

It will ban many of the devices used for soring, such as stacked shoes, ankle chains, foreign substances and other “action devices,” and force horse industry inspectors to become trained and licensed through the USDA.

The horse industry is currently responsible for training its own inspectors.

Under the final regulation:
  • APHIS will license, train, and oversee independent, third party inspectors, known as Horse Protection Inspectors (HPIs), 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 Organization and Associations are removed and are no longer effective.
  • Beginning 30 days after the 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 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.

“Horse soring is a stain on Tennessee’s reputation, and (Friday’s) move by the USDA begins to wipe that stain away,” Humane Society president and CEO Wayne Pacelle said in a statement.

“Hurting horses so severely for mere entertainment is disgraceful, and I put this abuse in the same category as dogfighting or cockfighting - practices that betray our humanity and that cannot stand the light of day.”

Not everyone is on board with the new legislation, however.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) believes the new rules are overreaching, stating in a release, “I am in favor of wiping out the contemptible and illegal practice of horse soring, not wiping out the century old tradition of showing Tennessee Walking Horses as this rule could do.”

“I would hope the new Secretary of Agriculture will not concur with this overreaching rule announced during the last few days of the Obama administration and instead will work with Congress to enact legislation that punishes trainers, owners and riders who abuse horses while preserving the opportunity for law abiding horse enthusiasts to participate in competitions that are the basis of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.”

Mike Inman, president of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, said he plans to challenge the regulatory action. The Celebration is the largest Tennessee walking horse show in the nation.

No comments:

Post a Comment