Two veterinarians currently serving in Congress scored a win last week on a bill banning horse soring.
Back in 2013, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Oreg., paired up to introduce the “Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act.” Yoho’s and Schrader’s bill would amend the Horse Protection Act of 1970 to end horse soring.
The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, or PAST Act, seeks to remove the approximately 8-pound stack shoes and chains necessary to create the “big lick” show gait, enabling horses to move with the dramatic, exagerated gait they're known for.
Yoho and Schrader brought the proposal back at the start of the year, renaming it to honor former U.S. Sen, Joseph Tydings, D-Md., who passed away in October. Tydings was the sponsor of the Horse Protection Act of 1970.
The House passed the bill on a 333-96 vote. All of the opposition came from the GOP with the exception of U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich.
This is not an issue unknown in Florida. In 2018 Panama City Beach tore down a show ring in Frank Brown Park, even removing its gazebo in the middle of the ring, to end a “big lick” Tennessee walking horse show because of the animal cruelty.
Most Republicans in the Florida delegation backed the proposal though U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., voted against the measure. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., was one of three members who did not vote.
“As a veterinarian and lover of animals, it is time we end the inhumane practice of horse soring. I want to thank House Leadership for bringing the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act up for a vote today and my colleague and fellow veterinarian Rep. Kurt Schrader for championing this bill with me over the years,” Yoho said. “The walking horse industry had plenty of time to self-police and change their ways, but they decided to press on. They have failed to take advantage of this opportunity and now it is time for horse soring to end.
“Horse soring still runs rampant even though laws have been on the books for decades banning this cruel practice,” said Schraeder. “We gave folks a chance to self-police, but the abusive behaviors continued. The bill that was passed today will strengthen and improve current regulations by improving USDA enforcement, increasing civil and criminal penalties, and banning incentives to sore horses. This is a historic day and I am grateful for my colleagues who worked tirelessly to get this legislation across the finish line and for the beautiful horses that we love so much.”
“The practice of horse soring is nothing less than animal torture,” said U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla. “We need to end this inhumane practice by making clear that anyone who abuses horses in this manner will be prosecuted.”
This legislation was endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Horse Council, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the National Sheriff’s Association, the Kentucky-based United States Equestrian Foundation, the All American Walking Horse Alliance, Animal Wellness Action, the Humane Society of the United States, veterinary medical associations from all 50 states, and more.
"Today’s vote for the PAST Act is a historic victory for horses, veterinarians and everyone who cares about animal welfare,” said AVMA President Dr. John de Jong. “AVMA has worked for many years to end the cruel and inhumane practice of horse soring, and now we’re one step closer to finally winning this protection for horses. We’re thankful to Representatives Kurt Schrader and Ted Yoho, and all of the lawmakers who have worked tirelessly to advance this groundbreaking legislation.”
The issue now heads to the U.S. Senate where U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Id., has rounded up 40 cosponors to back the companion bill.