The U.S. House subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade heard from both sides of the soring issue Wednesday (Nov. 13) during hearings on HR 1518, or the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act.

Soring is the deliberate injury to a horse’s feet and legs to achieve an exaggerated, high stepping gait. The practice is illegal under the Horse Protection (HPA) Act of 1970. Introduced in April 2013 by U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield (Ky.) and Steve Cohen (Tenn.), HR 1518 would amend the HPA to boost maximum violation penalties, and increase 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. 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. In addition, HR 1518 would forbid trainers to use action devices including metal chains, so-called “stacks,” and pads, also known as performance packages.

On Nov. 13, members of the House subcommittee heard from HR 1518 proponents who would like to see stiffer penalties and better USDA oversight in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. In his testimony, American Veterinary Medical Association Chief Executive and Executive Vice President Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA, said bill passage is necessary to provide the oversight necessary to protect Tennessee Walking Horses’ health and well-being.

“As the former administrator to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service charged with overseeing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, I have witnessed the long-lasting and damaging eff