Horse Protection Act

My purpose in this group of blogs on soring is to inform all horse lovers about soring, for many people don’t know what it is, and why this abusive practice is still going on. We’ll end the blogs by talking about FOSH or Friends of Sound Horses. The big question about the horrendous practice of soring is this: if there is a federal law against it, why are horses still suffering through soring at the hands of their owners or trainers? In future posts, I’ll do my best to answer that question. But first we have to talk about the Horse Protection Act (HPA.) The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), enforces the HPA. Lots of acronyms here, hope you can translate them as we go along. (Before we go further, I am indebted to an excellent factsheet online put together by APHIS and dated 2009.)
If you’re reading these blogs, you’ll remember that so many people protested soring that the HPA was passed in 1970 and amended in 1976. In essence, the law states that any horses that are found to be sored are prohibited from being part of “shows, sales, exhibitions, or auctions.” In addition, drivers are prohibited from “transporting sored horses to or from any of these events.” APHIS wants to cooperate with the horse industry to make sure that soring is stopped and that “only sound and healthy horses participate in shows.” The HPA aims to make sure owners and trainers who train their horses by conventional means, that is, train responsibly, are not faced with “unfair competition” by those who sore. The HPA covers all breeds but establishes that the high-stepping breeds are often sored. The law places the responsibility for keeping sore horses from being shown, sold or exhibited with the following people: managers of events, owners, trainers, riders and sellers. The managers bear the major legal responsibility to see that any horse event they are running, from shows through auctions, do not contain sored horses. Pretty clear, so far? Next time, the DQPs. What or who are those? Stay tuned.

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