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FEBRUARY, 2017

USDA Announces Changes Aimed at Ending the Inhumane Practice of Horse Soring

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced a final rule that includes changes that will help to protect horses from the cruel and inhumane practice known as soring
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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced a final rule that includes changes that will help to protect horses from the cruel and inhumane practice known as soring The Horse Protection Act (HPA), a Federal law that makes it unlawful for any person to show, exhibit, sell, or transport sore horses, or to use any equipment, device, paraphernalia, or substance prohibited by USDA to prevent the soring of horse in such events.
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January 13, 2017--WASHINGTON-- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced a final rule that includes changes that will help to protect horses from the cruel and inhumane practice known as soring and eliminate the unfair competitive advantage that sore horses have over horses that are not sore. The practice of soring is intended to produce a high stepping gait through the use of action devices, caustic chemicals, and other practices that cause horses to suffer, or reasonably be expected to suffer physical pain, distress, inflammation, or lameness while walking or moving.

APHIS enforces the Horse Protection Act (HPA), a Federal law that makes it unlawful for any person to show, exhibit, sell, or transport sore horses, or to use any equipment, device, paraphernalia, or substance prohibited by USDA to prevent the soring of horse in such events. APHIS works actively with the horse industry to eliminate such inhumane practices and the resulting unfair competition they create at HPA-covered events.

The final rule addresses recommendations made by the USDA's Office of Inspector General following an audit of APHIS' horse protection program, which found the existing industry-led inspection program to be inadequate for ensuring compliance with the HPA. The rule also seeks to address the substantial noncompliance that continues to exist among Tennessee Walking Horses and racking horses and the relationship that continues to exist between the use of certain prohibited items and soring in horses, such as the use of permitted action devices alone or in conjunction with prohibited substances.

Under the final regulation:

Congress passed the HPA to end the cruel and inhumane practice of soring horses and stop unfair competition. Strenghtening the HPA regulations and the enforcement of alleged violations is the best way to achieve this goal. In addition, the prohibitions on the use of action devices and pads (with certain exceptions) are consistent with recommendations made by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and leading industry standards for equestrian sports.

This final rule will be publish in the Federal Register in the coming days. The changes regarding the prohibitions on the use of action devices and associated lubricants for exhibitors of Tennessee Walking horses and racking horses, along with the training and licensing of inspectors will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The rest of the rule will be effective January 1, 2018.