2 bills aim to rein in Tennessee walking horse abuse
The recent PAST Act and HR 4098 bills are now getting a larger audience on USA Today. Most of the coverage has been on horse related websites and more local Tennessee and Kentucky news sites. Hopefully wider coverage will encourage more Americans to back the PAST Act once they understand the torture of horse soring. ~ HfH
From: USA Today
By: Duane Gang
NASHVILLE — A battle is brewing in Congress over how best to protect walking horses from intentional abuse designed to force the animals to walk with a higher step.
Two pieces of competing legislation would alter how the U.S. Department of Agriculture enforces the federal law banning the abuse known as soring.
One bill is backed by the Humane Society of the United States, veterinarian groups, celebrities such as Priscilla Presley and Alyssa Milano, and horse organizations pushing to end a practice the Tennessee walking horse industry has struggled with for four decades.
The stakes are high. Although popular across the nation, the industry is centered in its namesake state and in neighboring Kentucky.
Shelbyville, Tenn., about 60 miles southeast of Nashville, hosts the national celebration and the breed means millions of dollars to the local economy.
Tennessee walking horses have a naturally high gait, giving riders less bounce. The high step serves as a natural shock absorber.
Over the years, trainers have used special shoes and metal chains to encourage a higher step. Eventually, some figured out that the training could go faster if they abused horse’s hooves and ankles — the practice known as soring.
Dripping harsh chemicals on the horse’s front ankles or putting foreign objects into their hooves, forces them, because of pain, to lift their legs higher and shift their weight to their back legs. The movement produces an even higher gait. The walk, known as the “Big Lick,” is prized in walking horse competitions.