Supporters of legislation to address the cruel “soring” of Tennessee Walking Horses worry that the issue could get crowded off this year’s congressional agenda unless it gains more momentum soon.
Although the bill has cleared a Senate committee and has 270 co-sponsors in the House, it remains in legislative limbo. Supporters say they hope for Senate passage soon to increase pressure on the House.
“There certainly is a narrowing window,” said Keith Dane, who handles equine issues for the Humane Society of the United States.
Dane noted the traditional monthlong congressional recess in August. Midterm elections this fall put other limits on the legislative calendar, with more congressional breaks looming, including Memorial Day.
Meanwhile, Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire are exploring the possibility of a new bill that might bridge differences between them.
Alexander also has been talking to senators who were not aware that there was an alternative to Ayotte’s bill — or that the issue was at all controversial — when they agreed to co-sponsor it. Ayotte has 52 co-sponsors, one of the most recent being Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. Alexander’s alternative bill has only four, although one of them is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Both senators say they want to end soring, the intentional infliction of pain on the legs or hooves of walking horses in order to induce a more high-stepping gait.