Bipartisan lawmakers in the United States House of Representatives reintroduced familiar legislation that aims to end horse soring.

The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, which first was unveiled in 2012, is legislation that if passed into law will amend the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970 by prohibiting various acts, improving enforcement and strengthening penalties.

“The practice of soring, which is the intentional infliction of pain on horses’ feet and legs using caustic chemicals, chains, weighted shoes, hard objects, cutting and other gruesome techniques to force them to perform a pain-based artificially high-stepping gait known as the ‘Big Lick,’ is completely unacceptable, inhumane and unsportsmanlike,” says Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, who co-sponsored the bill with Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.; Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.; and Vern Buchanan, R-Fla. “Unfortunately, the practice has marred the Tennessee Walking Horse and related breeds for more than 6 decades. I am proud to reintroduce the PAST Act to finally eradicate this indefensible practice and show that Americans will treat animals humanely.”

If enacted, the legislation, which has 207 co-sponsors, would prohibit the use of action devices and pads on Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses and racking horses. 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.

“The antiquated and inhumane practice of soring intentionally inflicts pain on show horses for the mere purpose of winning a ribbon at a competition,” Fitzpatrick says. “Our bipartisan PAST Act gives voice to these suffering animals and will finally put an end to this cruel practice by banning devices integral to soring, strengthening penalties and holding abusers accountable for their crimes against innocent horses.”

The PAST Act also would eliminate self-policing by requiring the United States Department of Agriculture to assign a licensed inspector if the show’s management intends to hire one. It also increases the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony with a maximum of 3 years of incarceration, fines of as much as $5,000 and permanent disqualification of three-time violators.

Sens. Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, and Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, introduced an identical bill (S. 2295) June 24, 2021. Both versions must be passed by the respective legislative wings of Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden before it is enacted. The House’s previous version of the PAST Act was approved 333 to 96 in July 2019; however, the legislation died after the Senate did not move it out of committee.

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