WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 24, 2021) — U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia) have again reintroduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (S.2295) to protect horses from the abusive show practices. Soring is a process by which horse trainers intentionally apply substances or devices to horses’ limbs to make each step painful and force an exaggerated high-stepping gait rewarded in show rings. Although federal law prohibits soring, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General (IG) report found that some horse trainers continue this inhumane practice.
“I support the humane treatment of all animals and the responsible training of horses,” said Senator Crapo. “Soring is cruel and inhumane and I remain committed to ending its practice. The PAST Act would finally end this horrible training operation.”
“For over 400 years, horses have been a quintessential part of Virginia’s culture and history,” said Senator Warner. “I am proud to reintroduce the bipartisan PAST Act, which would protect horses from mistreatment and abuse by increasing penalties for individuals who engage in the harmful and deliberate practice of soring.”
The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act would:
- Eliminate self-policing by requiring the USDA to assign a licensed inspector if the show’s management indicates 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 specific horse breeds that have a history of being the primary 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 consequences on individuals caught soring a horse, including raising the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony, which is subject to up to three years’ incarceration, increasing fines from $3,000 to $5,000 per violation, and permanently disqualifying three-time violators from participating in horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions.
In 2017, the USDA Office of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) moved to strengthen certain aspects of the Horse Protection Act by incorporating some of the major tenets of the PAST Act. However, the rule was not finalized. The PAST Act would codify these changes into law. In April 2021, Senators Crapo and Warner led a bipartisan letter of 46 additional Senate colleagues to USDA Secretary Vilsack urging the USDA to publish and reinstate a final rule on the inhumane practice of soring.
Additional co-sponsors include Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Patrick Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Tom Carper (D-Delaware), Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada), Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire), John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico), Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), Alex Padilla (D-California), Gary Peters (D-Michigan), Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), Tina Smith (D-Minnesota), Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Sheldon Whitehouse (R-Rhode Island) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon).
The bill was sent to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on the date of introduction. A copy of the bill text is available here.
The PAST Act is written to amend the 1970 Horse Protection Act to ban devices integral to the soring process, including chains that are used in combination with caustic chemicals to inflame the horses’ ankles. Another tactic that would be banned is the use of tall, heavy stacked horseshoes.
In a historic vote, the PAST Act passed the House of Representatives by a broad bipartisan margin of 333 to 96 in 2019 and was co-sponsored by 52 senators in the previous Congress.
In January 2021 the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report confirming that industry inspectors often conduct improper and inadequate examinations and recommending that USDA rely solely on qualified veterinarians as inspectors, as the PAST Act encourages.
In public opinion polls conducted in 2020 in Kentucky and Tennessee, respondents across all categories—political affiliation, gender, age, and geographic region of both states—voiced resounding support for the PAST Act’s reforms (78% in Kentucky and 82% in Tennessee).
Track S.2295 here »
Updated 29 June 2021
Featured Image: File Photo / The Tennessean