The United States House of Representatives is renewing its decades-long push to prohibit horse soring.
A bipartisan group led by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican, introduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act of 2023 (H.R. 3090), on Monday, May 8, 2023.
The federal legislation, which has 185 co-sponsors, aims to amend the Horse Protection Act (HPA) to criminalize horse soring, prohibit several practices that artificially alter horses’ gaits or conceal evidence of soring, and eliminate self-policing. The HPA prohibits sored horses from participating in shows, exhibitions, sales, or auctions.
Soring is the intentional application of substances or devices to horses’ limbs to inflict pain to achieve an exaggerated high-stepping gait, known as The Big Lick, in show rings.
“Horse soring is a vile and inhumane practice that must be prohibited,” Fitzpatrick says. “As co-chair of the Animal Protection Caucus, I am proud to introduce the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act to protect horses and I hope our colleagues will join us in passing this important, bipartisan legislation.”
The bill is largely the same legislation that has been put forth by both houses of Congress over the past several years. If enacted, it would prohibit the use of action devices, weighted shoes, wedges, hoof bands, pads, “or other device or material … that is placed on, inserted in, or attached to any limb of a Tennessee Walking Horse, racking horse, or Spotted Saddle Horse; is constructed to artificially alter the gait of such a horse; and is not strictly protective or therapeutic in nature.”
The legislation defines an 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 used to protect the foot as action devices.
“As a strong supporter of animal rights, and as a former horse owner, we must end the inhumane practice of horse soring,” says Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat. “This bill would prohibit the intentional injury to the hooves and legs of performance Walking Horses. Let us build upon our strong momentum from the last Congress and finally push the PAST Act over the finish line.”
The legislation passed in the House, 304-111, on Nov. 14, 2022, in the waning months of the lame-duck session. However, the Senate’s version of the bill died in committee.
The PAST Act also would eliminate self-policing by requiring the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to control the inspection process. 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.
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