This article is recommended by Keith Dane, VP of Equine Protection at HSUS. ~ HfH
From: Richmond Times Dispatch
By: Robin Robertson Starr
We Virginians love our horses and our state has a rich equestrian history. That’s why so many Virginians share my desire to protect horses from the abusive practice of “soring.” Show horses that perform the artificial high-stepping gait, often called the “Big Lick,” do not do so naturally. Trainers burn the horses’ legs with caustic chemicals and use chains and damaging shoeing techniques to cause them intense pain that produces the exaggerated gait. Although this cruelty has been illegal for years, it is still occurring for no reason other than to win ribbons and prizes.
The federal Horse Protection Act of 1970 was intended to end soring, but the law has proven ineffective. Underfunding and political pressure from industry participants have caused there to be limited enforcement of the Act by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Rather than providing funding for inspections of these horse shows by USDA officials, the federal government has allowed a system of supposed industry self-enforcement to develop.
Horse industry organizations have been permitted to train their own inspectors, who are insiders motivated to preserve the status quo. Lax penalties also prevail and are considered simply the price of doing business by repeat offenders. The industry has had 40 years to self-regulate effectively and to discipline the offenders but has not done so. Now is the time for horse lovers to ensure that horses are protected from this torture by urging the passage of federal legislation that will require meaningful and effective regulation.