April 30, 2015

Kaine Joins Bipartisan Legislation To Prevent Horse Soring

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Kelly Ayotte to co-sponsor the Preventing All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, bipartisan legislation that would protect horses from the abusive practice known as soring – where show horse trainers apply blistering or burning agents, laceration, sharp objects, or other substances or devices to a horse's limb to intentionally make each step painful, forcing a horse to perform an exaggerated high-stepping gait that is rewarded in show rings. The PAST Act would help prevent soring, which still persists today despite being prohibitied under federal law. Kaine was a cosponsor of the 2013 version of the PAST Act during the 113th Congress. 

“Horse soring doesn't belong in equestrian competition,” said Kaine. “This bipartisan bill will give the USDA the necessary tools to properly enforce the law and end this abusive and cruel practice."   

The PAST Act would: 

  • Eliminate self-policing by requiring the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assign a licensed inspector if the show's management indicates its intent to hire one. Licensed or accredited veterinarians, if available, would be given preference for these positions.
  • Prohibit the use of action devices and pads on horse breeds that have been the victims of soring. Action devices, such as chains that rub up and down an already-sore leg, intensify the horse's pain when it moves, so that the horse quickly jolts up its leg.
  • Increase the penalties on an individual caught soring a horse from a misdemeanor to a felony subject to up to three years' incarceration, increase fines from $3,000 to $5,000 per violation, and for a third violation allows permanent disqualification from participating in horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions.

Joining Kaine, Warner and Ayotte in co-sponsoring the PAST Act in the Senate are Senators Richard Blumenthal, Susan Collins, Dianne Feinstein, Mark Kirk, Ed Markey, Claire McCaskill, Gary Peters, Pat Toomey, and David Vitter.

In 2010, the USDA Inspector General conducted an audit of the federal Horse Protection Program, which found that show horse trainers often go to great lengths to evade federal law prohibiting soring and requiring them to train horses using humane methods. The USDA Inspector General made several recommendations, including establishing stiffer penalties and abolishing the self-policing practices currently allowed under existing regulations, in which Horse Industry Organizations are able to assign their own inspectors to monitor horse shows.