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Delaware's Congressional delegation supports harsher penalties for inhumane treatment of horses

american veterinary medical association

Delaware’s Congressional delegation is supporting legislation that aims to protect some horses from painful tactics to win awards at horse shows.

The Prevent All Soring Tactics would ban techniques commonly used by exhibitors of Tennessee Walking, Racking, and Spotted Saddle Horses to exaggerate their horses’ gait.

Soring, applying burning chemicals to a horse’s front limbs or driving sharp objects into its hooves,  incentivizes it to pick its feet high off the ground to alleviate the pain.

The PAST Act would increase the penalties for those illegal practices and well as ban active devices like chains and stacked pads.

Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester co-sponsored and voted for it last month.

“There was an act that they do to these horses that is actually both inhumane and painful," she said. "And so that’s why you saw our support for that piece of legislation.”

Marty Irby with Animal Wellness Action, said letting the horse industry police itself isn’t working. And he said the Trump administration is letting some violators keep showing for years before they’re suspended.

“Suspensions they take don’t begin until 2022 for some people," he said. "So, we’re talking three more years of being able to show horses when they’ve already been shown to have all of these violations.”

Blunt Rochester said data shows that enforcement action taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to quell horse soring has fallen dramatically under the Trump administration. Irby said the Trump administration has done the worst job enforcing the Horse Protection Act since it was enacted in 1970. He said the George W. Bush administration had done the best job.

Members of the gaited horse industry say soring is a small problem they are able to self-police. The PAST Act eliminates the industry self-policing system.

The bill still needs Senate approval. Sens Tom Carper and Chris Coons are among its Senate co-sponsors.