The American Association of Equine Practitioners joins the American Veterinary Medical Association and many others in opposing new legislation that recently was introduced on Capitol Hill that is being promoted as an alternative to the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (H.R. 1518/S. 1406). 

The AAEP staunchly opposes H.R. 4098, the Horse Protection Amendments Act of 2013, because its implementation will not protect Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle horses and Racking horses from the abusive practice of soring. Soring is the intentional infliction of pain to create the exaggerated gait known as the “big lick” in the show ring.

Unlike the PAST Act, H.R. 4098 does not make the actual act of soring illegal; it only continues the existing prohibitions on the sale, auction, transport and exhibition of sored horses.

In addition, the new legislation does not prohibit the use of action devices and performance packages, which often are used to intensify the painful effects of soring. Both the AAEP and the AVMA called for a ban on the use of these devices in 2012.

Finally, H.R. 4098 seeks to continue the industry’s ineffective self-regulation model instead of giving the U.S. Department of Agriculture the authority it needs to license, train and oversee independent horse show inspectors.

“The AAEP supports the passage of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (S. 1406/H.R. 1518) because it will strengthen the Horse Protection Act and significantly increase the effort to end the abuse of the Tennessee Walking Horse,” AAEP President Dr. Jeff Blea says. “All veterinarians and horse owners are urged to contact their legislators to voice support for the PAST Act legislation and oppose H.R. 4098.”

The PAST Act is supported by the AAEP, AVMA, every state veterinary medical association in the United States, and numerous other groups and individuals, including the American Horse Council.  The bill also has overwhelming support in Congress, with more than 267 cosponsors in the House and 50 in the Senate.