Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Mark Warner, D-Virginia, and 46 original co-sponsors, nearly half the Senate, reintroduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act on June 25. This bipartisan federal legislation would protect horses from the practice known as soring.
Soring causes horses to perform an artificial, high-stepping gait prized in the show ring, known as the “big lick.” The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Humane Society Legislative Fund and Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association are urging Congress to swiftly pass the legislation.
The PAST Act is written to amend the 1970 Horse Protection Act to ban devices integral to the soring process, including chains that are used in combination with caustic chemicals to inflame the horses’ ankles. Another tactic that would be banned is the use of tall, heavy stacked horseshoes.
The bill would also eliminate industry self-policing, giving USDA oversight of inspectors and increasing penalties as a deterrent.
In a historic vote, the PAST Act passed the House of Representatives by a broad bipartisan margin of 333 to 96 in 2019 and was co-sponsored by 52 senators in the last Congress.
The nation’s leading horse industry, veterinary, law enforcement and animal protection organizations support this bill, including the American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Veterinary Medical Association, state veterinary groups in all 50 states, American Horse Council, United States Equestrian Federation and the National Sheriffs’ Association. Major newspapers in Kentucky and Tennessee (where soring is most prevalent) and hundreds of other groups also support the legislation.
In public opinion polls conducted in 2020 in Kentucky and Tennessee, respondents across all categories—political affiliation, gender, age, and geographic region of both states—voiced resounding support for the PAST Act’s reforms (78% in Kentucky and 82% in Tennessee).
The HSUS recently analyzed Horse Protection Act enforcement data provided by the USDA, which showed that soring continues unabated—and that industry inspectors are failing to detect these violations.
In January 2021 the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report confirming that industry inspectors often conduct improper and inadequate examinations and recommending that USDA rely solely on qualified veterinarians as inspectors, as the PAST Act encourages.