ASPCA Commends U.S. House of Representatives for Passing Bill to End the Cruel Practice of Horse Soring

The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act would protect show horses from unscrupulous trainers and abuse
November 15, 2022

WASHINGTON, DC – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (H.R. 5441), federal legislation that would end the cruel practice of horse soring where chemicals and devices are used to inflict pain on show horses to force an exaggerated, high-stepping gait often referred to as the “Big Lick.” With today’s passage in the House, the bill must now be approved by the Senate before it can go to President Biden to be signed into law.

Although soring has been illegal since 1970, weak enforcement and regulations have allowed this cruel practice to persist. The PAST Act will address these gaps by amending the Horse Protection Act and improving protections for horses. Specifically, the PAST Act requires horse show organizers to use only USDA-licensed inspectors, prohibits the use of action devices that intensify the pain caused by soring, and increases the penalties for violations.

“The cruel practice of horse soring – inflicting pain and injury in horses’ legs and hooves to force them into an unnatural, high-stepping gait known as the “Big Lick” – has gone on for far too long while serial abusers have gamed the system and horses have suffered,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “We're grateful to Representatives Cohen, Fitzpatrick, Schakowsky, and Buchanan for championing this critical bill and we urge the Senate to follow suit to finally end this abuse once and for all.”

“The PAST Act would shut down the cruel practice of horse soring. It’s a horrendous practice that horse trainers have used in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, Spotted Saddle and Racking Horse shows,” said Congressman Steve Cohen in his floor statement. “The Big Lick is wrong. I’m proud to lead the fight to end it. We’re going to end it.” 

“As a strong supporter of animal rights, and as a former horse owner, I am thrilled we are one step closer to ending the inhumane practice of horse soaring,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “My bill, the PAST Act, which I was proud to introduce with Reps. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), and Vern Buchanan (FL-16), will prohibit the intentional injury to the hooves and legs of performance walking horses. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress and all the tireless advocates to ensure this critical bill becomes law.” 

"Soring tactics and the intentional injury of horses are cruel practices that we must end," said Congressman Fitzpatrick. "I am grateful that today the House has passed our bipartisan PAST Act and proud to have led this effort alongside Representatives Buchanan, Cohen, and Schakowsky. This legislation is vital to improving the protection of horses nationwide and holding abusers accountable for their crimes."

Earlier this year, the ASPCA testified before the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce in support of this bipartisan bill, as well as the Save America's Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act (H.R.3355), which would permanently ban horse slaughter in the U.S. and prohibit the export of American horses for slaughter abroad. 

The SAFE Act has also made incredible progress during the 117th Congress, generating support from more than half of the U.S. House of Representatives. This means the bill would pass if brought up for a floor vote, but time is running out to pass this legislation before the end of the year. A national poll revealed that 83 percent of Americans oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption, and Olympic equestrian Jessica Springsteen recently led a group of celebrity equine advocates on an open letter to Congressional leaders urging them to pass a permanent ban on horse slaughter before Congress adjourns for the year.

For more information about the ASPCA’s efforts to protect horses, please visit