The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) would ban action devices and train veterinarians to conduct compliance inspections under a proposed new rule governing the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA).

The HPA prohibits soring, the deliberate injury to a horse’s feet and legs to achieve an exaggerated, high-stepping gait, and is enforced by USDA-APHIS. The act also states that APHIS is responsible for certifying horse industry organization (HIOs) and training designated qualified persons (DQPs) to carry out HPA compliance inspections on horses presented at horse shows.

Under the proposed rule change, APHIS would assume responsibility for training, screening, and licensing inspectors at horse shows, including a new contingent of veterinarians and veterinary technicians who would be required to follow APHIS rules and standards of conduct. In addition, the proposed rule would ban the use of all action devices, pads, and foreign substances at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions. The USDA said that ban would align the HPA regulations with existing U.S. Equestrian Federation standards.

Teresa Bippen, president of Friends of Sound Horses, applauded the proposed rule change.

“We feel (it) will address many of the loopholes in existing regulations,” she said.

In a written statement, the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) called the proposed rule change an overreach.

"The proposed rule is clearly an overreach, typical of today’s Washington, and an overt effort to bypass Congress," the statement said. "In