The man who led passage of the first law regulating horse soring 44 years ago blamed Kentucky and Tennessee lawmakers on Wednesday for blocking a new bill to shore up that act.
Former Sen. Joseph Tydings, D-Md., the lead sponsor of the 1970 Horse Protection Act, said “one very powerful senator from Kentucky” was blocking the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act from coming to a vote in the Senate.
Tydings made his remark, a clear reference to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., while addressing a rally of about 75 walking horse enthusiasts and animal rights activists in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool.
McConnell is co-sponsoring alternative legislation introduced by Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander. But groups such as the Humane Society of the United States criticize Alexander's bill for allowing the industry to continue to regulate itself.
A key provision of the PAST Act is a significant increase in Department of Agriculture inspectors, paid for with assessments on horse-show managers.
Widely seen as cruel, soring involves the use of caustic chemicals, chains, special pads and other devices on a walking horse’s legs and hooves to produce an artificially high step, also known as the “Big Lick.”