A new bill introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives would amend the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970 by imposing stiffer penalties on anyone who sores a horse. Soring is the deliberate injury to a horse’s feet and legs to achieve an exaggerated, high-stepping gait.

Currently the HPA establishes penalties for violators including maximum fines up to $3,000, imprisonment up to one year, or both. The penalty protocol contained in the law became controversial when some equine welfare advocates claimed that sentences connected to the federal case involving high-profile Tennessee Walking Horse Trainer Jackie McConnell were too lenient. Last year, U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, along with U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, introduced HR 6388. That bill would have amended the HPA by stiffening soring penalties, however HR 6388 died in committee.

Whitfield’s press secretary Chris Pack said that on April 11, Whitfield introduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (HR 1518) into the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The bill is nearly the same as HR 6388 that was introduced during the last (Congressional) session,” Pack said.

If passed, HR1518 would boost maximum HPA violation penalties to $5,000, imprisonment up to three years, or both. The bill also increases penalties for those who disobey disqualification orders and for those who fail to pay a licensed HPA compliance inspector at horse shows, sales, and other events. In addition, the bill would also require the USDA to assign a licensed inspector if a Tennessee Walking Horse show management indicates its intent to hire one; the option of hiring of a licensed i