WASHINGTON, DC — In a nightmare move for horse advocates Trump axed a Federal Rule aimed at ending the inhumane practice of horse soring. The Rule was removed just hours before it was to be published in the Federal Register.
On January 13, 2017 the The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) 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.
“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.”
A key provision to ending horse soring was stated in the Rule as follows:
“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 January 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.”
Tuesday’s Horse reported that on Inauguration Day Trump signed a Memorandum Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies:
“The President has asked me to communicate to each of you his plan for managing the Federal regulatory process at the outset of his Administration. In order to ensure that the President’s appointees or designees have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations, I ask on behalf of the President that you immediately take the following steps:
continuing in paragraph 2 with:
“With respect to regulations that have been sent to the OFR [Office of Federal Regulation] but not published in the Federal Register, immediately withdraw them from the OFR for review and approval as described in paragraph 1, subject to the exceptions described in paragraph 1. This withdrawal must be conducted consistent with OFR procedures.” [emphasis added].
Trump’s removal of the final Rule from the Federal Register signals the death of the aim of the USDA and APHIS to end the inhumane practice of horse soring.