The Texas chapter of the Humane Society of the United States is joining in the push to pass federal legislation that would help enforce the ban against "soring" -- hurting show horses to exaggerate a high-stepping gait.
The barbaric practice, which we'll describe in a moment, was barred by legislation in 1970 -- but in 1976, the law was amended to allow for industry self-regulation. Which, as we all know, is the most effective kind of regulation. The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act would allow USDA-assigned inspectors to conduct spot inspections and ban certain pain-inducing devices from being used on horses that have already been sored.
The Senate's Commerce Committee -- which features Texas' very own Ted Cruz -- will vote on this Wednesday. (You can let your voice be heard via the HSUS' handy-dandy legislator shout-out form.)
Per the HSUS, methods of soring include:
Applying caustic chemicals, using oplastic wrap and tight bandages to "cook" those chemicals deep into the horse's flesh for days, attaching heavy chains to strike against the sore legs, inserting bolts, screws or other hard objects into sensitive areas of the hooves, cutting the hooves down to expose the live tissue, and using salicicylic acid or other painful substances to slough off scarred tissue in an attempt to disguise the sored areas. Sored horses often live in constant and extreme pain through their show ring careers.
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So are we saying that only an asshole would sore a horse, and only an asshole would not want this bill passed? Yes. That is what we are saying.
The Humane Society's Keith Dane tells us via email that the PAST Act would "eliminate industry self-policing by requiring the USDA to assign a licensed inspector if the show's management indicates its intent to hire one. Licensed or accredited veterinarians, if available, would be given preference for these positions. The hiring of a licensed inspector remains voluntary and is not a mandate. The incentive for show management is to ensure an honest and fair show, and protect themselves from liability if soring is found at their show by a USDA spot inspection."
Dane adds: "The amendment is simple and does not cost the federal government any additional money. It is not a mandate, and it protects the health and integrity of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse, and Spotted Saddle Horse industries, essentially saving jobs."
The bill has the support of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Horse Council, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, among many others.