Veterinarians oppose Blackburn Bill

Tennessee Walking Horse is inspected for soring. HSUS image.
Dr. Clem Dussault of the Office of Inspector General and veterinarian Angie Lingl investigate for evidence of soring at the stables of well-known Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell in Fayette County, Tenn. The undercover investigation led to felony criminal indictments against McConnell, for multiple violations of the federal Horse Protection Act. (Photo by The Humane Society of the United States)

Cross-posted from

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) have issued statements opposing a bill introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives last month as an alternative to anti-soring legislation introduced last year.

Last year, U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) introduced HR 1518, or the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act. That bill would increase penalties for anyone who sores a horse; would require the USDA assign a licensed inspector if a Tennessee Walking Horse show management indicates its intent to hire one; and would forbid the use of action devices, including metal chains, and stacks and pads used in performance packages. HR 1518 remains pending.

On Feb. 26, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced HR 4098, or the Horse Protection Amendments Act of 2014, which would create one horse industry organization (HIO) to manage shows where Tennessee Walking Horses are exhibited. Under the legislation, that HIO would be composed of industry experts (drawn from states most impacted by the Walking Horse industry) and equine veterinarians, who would develop and implement protocols, guidelines, testing policies, and inspection policies. The bill would also require that testing used during horse inspections be done “though objective, science-based methods and protocols,” and preserves the oversight structure between the Walking Horse industry and the USDA. The bill does not forbid trainers from using metal chains, or stacks and pads used in performance packages.

Whitney Miller, DVM, MBA, assistant director of the AVMA Governmental Relations Division, said the association opposes HR 4098 because the proposed legislation doesn’t make soring illegal and doesn’t address action device use.

“That’s because the supporters of the legislation know that by taking action devices and performance packages away, we remove one more tool from their abusive toolbox,” Miller’s statement said. Continue reading >>

4 thoughts on “Veterinarians oppose Blackburn Bill”

  1. Waitwaitwait…isn’t soring in any form ALREADY illegal??? That law, largely ignored and unenforced, making these two HRs necessary (though the one seems more an homage to someone’s flourishing talent with language).
    And we have to wonder why – yet another industry driven by horses is inhabited by people who apparently feel no love, affinity or kinship for horses – must have laws and regulations in place because morals and conscience are completely absent.


  2. If I read this correctly, for a change, the AVMA & AAEP are FOR horse protection & against abuse. No horse soring.
    I find it amazing all the convolutions that are happening, the this & thats, for the Tennessee Walking horse. Whereas it is simple: NO SORING, NO HEINOUS CRUELTY, NO AGONY for these magnificent horses,


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