More than 150 Congress members have signed a letter asking the Trump administration to expedite its final approval of a new USDA rule banning the use of pads, chains, and other action devices sometimes used in the training of Tennessee Walking Horses.
The new rule would boost the way the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service enforces the Horse Protection Act (HPA), which forbids soring.
Approved on Jan. 13, just before the Trump administration took office, the rule prohibits the use of action devices, including chains weighing more than 6 ounces, on Tennessee Walking Horses and Racking Horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions. The final rule also forbids the use of boots other than soft rubber or leather bell boots and quarter boots used as protective devices and associated lubricants. It also prohibits the use of “pads and wedges on Tennessee Walking Horses and Racking Horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions, except for therapeutic pads and wedges.”
The ban was slated to take effect in February, but the federal Department of Engraving and Printing failed to publish it before former President Barack Obama left office. As a result, the final rule was among several regulations put on hold pending review by the Trump administration.
In a Feb. 9 letter to President Donald Trump, a bipartisan group of 154 Congress members led by Representative Ted S. Yoho, DVM (R-FL), and Representative Kurt Schrader, DVM (D-OR) asked his administration to finalize the rule.
“It is unfortunate that a clerical error led to the finalized rule having to be withdrawn,” the letter said. “We request that your administration finalize the work already performed during the previous Congress, so as not to duplicate efforts, and consider expediting its reintroduction and finalization along with publication in the Federal Register.”
The letter also asks the Trump administration to support Prevent All Soring Tactics Act. Initially introduced in 2013 and reintroduced in 2015, the act would have amended the HPA to forbid trainers from using action devices and performance packages, increased federal penalties for anyone who sores a horse, and required the USDA to assign a licensed inspector if a Tennessee Walking Horse show management indicated its intent to hire one. The legislation died in previous Congressional sessions.