The House Rules Committee is expected to hear testimony today on legislation that aims to prohibit action devices, pad stacks and wedges when showing Tennessee Walking Horses.
U.S. Reps. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) authored amendment 90 to H.R. 2: Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 — better known as the Farm Bill.
The Marino amendment titled, “Section 11613: Licensing Of Designated Persons Under The Horse Protection Act,” is the final rule enacted by the United States Department of Agriculture on Jan. 13, 2017. The rule was withdrawn for agency review weeks later by the incoming Trump administration.
As it specifically pertains to farriery, the rule prohibits the use of all action devices — except certain boots — and all associated lubricants; as well as all pads and wedges on all Tennessee Walking Horses and Racking Horses. Pads and wedges may be applied as a prescription when the horse is receiving therapeutic, veterinary treatment.
The rule also mandates that a farrier is physically present to assist horse protection inspectors (HPI) 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.” If 150 or fewer horses are entered, a farrier will be on call.
If passed, the amendment will be inserted at the end of Subtitle F of Title XI of the Farm Bill.
The rule, and thus the amendment, largely mirrors the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, which last was introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla. Marino, Cohen and Fitzpatrick all were co-sponsors of that bill.
“Congress passed the Horse Protection Act (HPA) to end the cruel and inhumane practice of soring horses and stop unfair competition,” according to a statement at that time from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). “Strengthening the HPA regulations and the enforcement of alleged violations is the best way to achieve this goal. In addition, the prohibitions on the use of action devices and pads (with certain exceptions) are consistent with recommendations made by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and leading industry standards for equestrian sports.”
The Marino amendment instructs the secretary of agriculture to submit the rule for publication in the Federal Register within 60 days of the Farm Bill being passed into law. The rule will be implemented by the USDA within 1 year of the enactment of the bill. The rule involving pads and wedges, as well as the inspection and detention of horses, will be enacted within 30 days of the passage of the bill.
There are a number of obstacles that must be overcome before the amendment takes effect. The amendment first must pass muster by the committee. The bill then must be approved by the House. After the Senate’s version is passed, it must survive scrutiny by the Senate-House conference. If it moves forward and a final bill is approved by both the House and Senate, it must be signed by President Donald Trump. Skopos Labs predicts the bill has a 64% chance of being enacted.
The American Horse Council issued a statement supporting the amendment.
“This bipartisan amendment would call on the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to implement a common-sense rule — finalized by USDA in January 2017 — that would prohibit the continued practice of inflicting pain on a horse’s limb, aka ‘soring,’ to produce an accentuated gait for competition,” according to the statement attributed to Julie Broadway, president of the AHC.