By American Farriers Journal

The United States Department of Agriculture is proposing a rule to update the Horse Protection Act (HPA) that signals “its readiness to end the cruel practice of soring,” according to The Humane Society of the United States.

The proposal reportedly was submitted “late last week” to the Office of Management and Budget for White House consideration. The text of the proposed rule has not been made public, not is it clear when it will be released.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, and Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, reintroduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act nearly a year ago. The legislation aims to amend the HPA to prohibit a Tennessee Walking Horse, a Racking Horse or a Spotted Saddle Horse from being shown, exhibited or auctioned with an “action device,” or “a weighted shoe, pad, wedge, hoof band or other device or material” if it is constructed to artificially alter the gait of the horse and is not strictly protective or therapeutic.

Rep. Ted Yoho, a Florida Republican and a longtime veterinarian, introduced a companion version (House Bill 3268) in the House of Representatives on July 31, 2015. 

The PAST Act — Senate Bill 1121 — has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and has 49 co-sponsors. House Bill 3268 has been referred to the subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. It has 255 co-sponsors.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.); Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.); and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), introduced a competing bill (Senate Bill 1161) last year that they say will “end the contemptible, illegal practice of horse soring once and for all” while preserving the Tennessee Walking Horse tradition.

Senate Bill 1161 has been assigned to the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and has two co-sponsors.