The House Appropriations Committee is proposing a significant funding increase to enforce the Horse Protection Act in the 2021 fiscal year federal budget.
The bill allocates $2 million to enforce the 1970 law that prohibits sored horses from participating in shows, sales, exhibitions or auctions. The measure will go to the full House for consideration.
Soring is the intentional application of substances or devices to horses’ limbs to inflict pain in order to achieve an exaggerated high-stepping gait among some Tennessee Walking Horses in the show ring.
The reallocation of the money comes 44 years after Congress effectively defunded Tennessee Walking Horse show inspections. The result led to the self-policing of inspections by the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. Both houses of Congress have since attempted to change the self-policing policy in the form of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act. The House approved the PAST Act in 2019. It remains in the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The Senate must approve the bill and the president sign it before it becomes law.
Specifically, the PAST Act aims to substantially revamp the farriery of Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses and racking horses. They would prohibit the use of action devices, “weighted toe, pads, wedge, hoof band, or other device or material at a horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction that is placed on, inserted in, or attached to any limb of Tennessee Walking Horses, racking horses, Spotted Saddle Horses … to artificially alter the gait of such a horse; and is not strictly protective or therapeutic in nature.”
The legislation defines action device as “any boot, collar, chain, roller, or other devices that encircles or is placed upon the lower extremity of the leg of a horse in such a manner that it can rotate around the leg or slide up and down the leg, so as to cause friction; or strike the hoof, coronet band, fetlock joint, or pastern of the horse.” The legislation does not consider soft rubber or soft leather bell boots or quarter boots that are used to protect the foot as an action device.