Less than 2 weeks after the United States Department of Agriculture announced that it finalized a rule to end soring, an improbable turn of events has put it on hold.
In a Jan. 13, 2017, news release, the USDA issued its update of the Horse Protection Act and stated that the “final rule will be publish [sic] in the Federal Register in the coming days.” When President Donald Trump took office 7 days later, the rule apparently had not been published. The White House issued a memorandum that same day withdrawing all unpublished rules and sending them back to the relevant agency for review.
“With respect to regulations that have been sent to the OFR [Office of the Federal Register] but not published in the Federal Register, immediately withdraw them from the OFR for review and approval,” according to the memo attributed to White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus.
As it specifically pertains to farriery, the final rule prohibited the use of all action devices — except certain boots — and all associated lubricants; as well as all pads and wedges, unless prescribed and the horse is receiving therapeutic, veterinary treatment, on all Tennessee Walking Horses and Racking Horses. It also mandated that a farrier would be physically present to assist horse protection inspectors at horse shows, exhibitions, sales and auctions “that allow Tennessee Walking Horses or Racking Horses to participate in therapeutic pads and wedges if more than 150 horses are entered.” If 150 or fewer horses are entered, a farrier will be on call.
The rule also prohibited a number of farriery devices, equipment, appliances and practices on “any horse at any horse shoe, exhibition, sale, or auction.” Specifically, the rule prohibited:
• More than one action devices on any one limb of a horse.
• Pads or other devices on horses up to 2 years old that elevate or change the angle of the hooves in excess of 1 inch at the heel.
• Artificial extension of the toe length, whether accomplished with pads, acrylics or any other material or combination thereof, that exceeds 50% of the natural hoof length.
• Toe length that does not exceed the height of the heel by 1 inch or more.
• Pads that are not made of leather, plastic, or similar pliant material.
• Any object of material inserted between the pad and the hoof other than acceptable hoof packing, which includes pine tar, oakum, live rubber, sponge rubber, silicone commercial hoof packing or other substances used to maintain adequate frog pressure or sole consistency. Acrylic and other hardening substances are prohibited as hoof packing.
• Single or double rocker-bars on the ground surface of horseshoes that extend more than 1 1/2 inches back from the point of the toe.
• Metal hoof bands placed less than 1/2 inch below the coronet band.
• Any action device or any other device that strikes the coronet band.
• Shoeing a horse, trimming a horse’s hoof, or paring the frog or sole in a manner than will cause suffering, pain, distress, inflammation or lameness during movement.
• Lead or other weights attached to the outside of the hoof wall, the outside surface of the horseshoe, or any portion of the pad, except the bottom surface within the horseshoe.
It’s unclear whether the Trump administration will affirm, renounce or simply take no action on the rule.