Supporters of training techniques associated with Tennessee walking horse “big lick” showmanship now have a champion in U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). Blackburn recently introduced House Resolution 4098, or the Horse Protection Amendments Act of 2014, to counter HR 1518, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act.
The PAST Act is the results of efforts by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and others not just to minimize soring—a practice that creates the exaggerated “big lick” gait through pain—but to bolster the 1970 Horse Protection Act in a way that extinguishes soring from the Tennessee walking horse arena.
Blackburn’s bill, endorsed by the walking horse industry’s premier show, the Tennesee Walking Horse National Celebration, addresses soring not as an industry epidemic but the sin of a few.
The AVMA is not buying it. “This legislation is nothing more than an attempt to maintain the status quo in an industry riddled with abuse and will ensure that the broken system of seeing horses sored at an alarming rate does not have to answer for its crimes,” reads an AVMA letter to its members.