The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Monday announced proposed changes that are intended to eliminate soring.

The proposal would ban the use of all action devices, pads and foreign substances at horse shows, exhibitions, sales and auctions. According to APHIS, the change would align the Horse Protection Act (HPA) “with existing equestrian standards set forth by the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

In addition, APHIS would assume responsibility for training, screening and licensing horse inspectors, who would be veterinarians and veterinary technicians. They would be required to follow APHIS rules and standards of conduct.

“As tasked by Congress, the HPA’s ultimate goal is to completely end the inhumane practice of soring,” APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea says. “The recommended changes will ultimately help us end soring altogether by giving USDA direct control over the inspection process, and banning the use of certain equipment and training devices is allowed under existing regulations. We believe an independent pool of APHIS-trained inspectors, combined with a ban on inhumane training methods, will be a more effective deterrent to the cruel and inhumane practice of horse soring.”

The proposal will be published Tuesday, July 26 in the Federal Register. APHIS will conduct five public meetings to seek comments and feedback from the public. Those meetings are scheduled for: 

Tuesday, Aug. 9 in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Wednesday, Aug. 10 in Lexington, Ky.

Tuesday, Aug. 16 in Sacramento, Calif.

Tuesday, Sept. 6, in Riverdale, Md.

Wednesday, Sept. 15, a call-in virtual public meeting.

Keith Dane, senior advisor on equine protection for The Humane Society of the United States lauded the proposal.

“While a handful of politicians doing the bidding of sorers have so far blocked passage of the PAST Act, horses are being tortured for competitions and the corrupt industry self-policing has lost all credibility,” he says. “It’s time for all equestrians, animal lovers and humane-minded people across America to say enough is enough and support toughening the regulations.”