While soring has been banned for 38 years under the government’s Horse Protection Act (HPA), Donna Benefield maintains there’s been a lack of desire to bring about needed change.
“As an industry, we’ve spent a great deal of time and money in coming up with ways to whitewash a terminal situation,” says the administrative director of the Horse Protection Commission in Gallatin, Tenn. “We’ve tried to sell this to the public by saying, as we have all heard many times, ‘We’ve come a long way.’ Well, we certainly have, we’re still soring horses!”
Benefield believes soring will continue as long as the punishment does not exceed the reward. As an example, she says many Tennessee Walking Horse (TWH) people on the violation lists from 2000 to 2008 were also chronic offenders in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.
“Congress mandated the enforcement of the HPA to the USDA in 1970,” she says. “Here we are 38 years later, and soring continues to plague this industry. The responsibility for its success or failure rests squarely in the lap of the USDA and its field people, Veterinary Medical Officers, Horse Protection Coordinators and USDA deputy administrators.
“They continue to be faced with the primary reason enforcement is failing. That is because the USDA undersecretary’s offices have continued to acquiesce to political influence peddling. Without their support, this program will continue to fail.”
The USDA also has refused to decertify any Horse Industry Organizations (HIO) that are not enforcing the law. “When asked why…