Animal rights groups urge U.S. Senate to follow suit in putting a stop to “soring”

A national animal rights organization this week applauded the New York Congressional delegation for backing a ban on “soring” — intentionally inflicting pain to a horse's legs or hooves to force them to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait.

“This animal cruelty applying caustic chemicals such as mustard oil or kerosene or inserting sharp objects into the horses' hooves to create an exaggerated gait known as the "Big Lick,” has plagued the equine world for six decades,” stated Animal Wellness Action, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. The organization added that “The “Big Lick” animal cruelty is exhibited annually at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the bill, Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 693, by a vote of 333 to 96.

“The practice of soring is abusive and reprehensible,” stated Rep. Joe Morelle, D- Irondequoit. "It is despicable to endanger the health and safety of horses simply for human sport. I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation that seeks to strengthen USDA oversight and enforcement as well as bring harsher punishments to those who continue this inhumane practice.”

All Congress members in New York state supported the measure and most all were also co-sponsors. Those included U.S. Reps. Chris Collins, R-Clarence and Tom Reed, R-Corning, whose districts cover part of the Finger Lakes region and Ontario County.

The PAST Act seeks to strengthen the Horse Protection Act and “end the torturous, painful practice of soring Tennessee Walking, Racking, and Spotted Saddle Horses."

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, is a cosponsor of the Senate companion bill, S. 1007, which mirrors the House-passed legislation and currently has 43 cosponsors in the Senate. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York “has yet to cosponsor the legislation” in the current Congress but has supported the measure in previous Congresses, stated Animal Wellness Action.

“The PAST Act’s overwhelming support sends a strong signal to the U.S. Senate that it should saddle up and swiftly move this legislation, and I hope Leader Chuck Schumer will push for a vote on the bill before the year is over,” stated Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action and a past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association.

The PAST Act would ban the use of painful large stacked shoes and ankle chains and would also eliminate the existing system of self-regulation by the industry and toughen penalties for violators of the Horse Protection Act. It’s supported by the American Saddlebred Association, American Quarter Horse Association, Animal Wellness Action, the American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, United States Equestrian Federation, National Sheriff’s Association, and New York Veterinary Medical Association.