Tuesday, January 17, 2017

USDA releases final rule intended to end soring in show horses

An award winning high-stepper
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Friday announced a final rule intended to ban soring, the use of chemicals and physical abuse to induce high steps in show horses. As part of the rule APHIS "will license, train, and oversee independent, third party inspectors, known as Horse Protection Inspectors (HPIs), and establish the licensing eligibility requirements to reduce conflicts of interest," states the agency.

The rule states: "Beginning 30 days after the publication of the final rule, all action devices, except for certain boots, are prohibited on any Tennessee Walking Horse or racking horse at any horse show, exhibition, sale, or auction. All pads and wedges are prohibited on any Tennessee Walking Horse or racking horse at any horse show, exhibition, sale, or auction on or after Jan. 1, 2018, unless such horse has been prescribed and is receiving therapeutic, veterinary treatment using pads or wedges. This delayed implementation allows ample time to both gradually reduce the size of pads to minimize any potential physiological stress to the horses and prepare horses to compete in other classes." 

"Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, management of HPA-covered events must, among other things, submit certain information records to APHIS, provide HPIs with access, space, and facilities to conduct inspections, and have a farrier physically present to assist HPIs at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions that allow Tennessee Walking Horses or racking horses to participate in therapeutic pads and wedges if more than 150 horses are entered, and have a farrier on call if 150 or fewer horses are entered," the rule states.

Animal rights groups pushed for the Obama administration to finalize a rule before Donald Trump took office, saying there was "no guarantee he would be committed to ending the controversial practice," Michael Collins reports for USA Today. Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, wrote in a blog post after Trump was elected: “None of us can predict how President Trump will address animal welfare in the first 100 days of his administration or beyond. But momentum is clearly behind this much needed rule, and it’s been delayed for years. There’s no excuse for further dilly-dallying. It’s time to close the loop on an appalling abuse and deal with people who are abusing horses in the name of entertainment and profit.”

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