A Senate panel Wednesday passed Republican-sponsored legislation to strengthen protections against the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses.

By voice vote, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation passed an amended form of legislation offered by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. The new version made the Senate bill identical to the Prevent All Soring Tactics bill offered by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., in the House, which many in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry bitterly oppose.

Soring, widely seen as a cruel practice, involves the use of caustic chemicals, chains and special pads and other devices on a horse's legs and hooves to produce a higher step.

The Whitfield and Ayotte bills propose to strengthen the Horse Protection Act of 1970. They would eliminate self-policing by the industry and ban the various devices designed to rub on a horse's leg or irritate its hoof to cause the higher step.

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