ASPCA Commends USDA's Efforts to Eliminate Cruel Practice of Horse Soring

USDA issues final rule requiring minimum penalties for violating Horse Protection Act
June 5, 2012

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) applauds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for issuing a final rule to eliminate the inhumane practice of horse soring by requiring the horse industry organizations responsible for monitoring horse shows to issue minimum penalties for violations of the Horse Protection Act (HPA). Illegal under the HPA, soring involves using painful chemicals and devices to achieve the exaggerated show-ring gait of some horses in the multimillion-dollar Tennessee Walking Horse industry. 

“We applaud the USDA for taking this significant step to strengthen enforcement of the Horse Protection Act and end the inhumane practice of horse soring,” says Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “Soring is an intentional and extreme form of abuse as horses are forced to endure years of chronic pain throughout their show careers – all for glory and greed.”

The training method known as “soring” involves the deliberate application of pain-causing chemicals, cuts, or foreign objects to horses’ limbs or hoof pads to cause such agony to a horse’s front limbs that any contact with the ground forces the horse to fling its leg back up into the air.  Additionally, trainers may engage in “stewarding” Tennessee Walking Horses to mask the fact that they are soring the equines. This conditions the horses to remain still by inflicting even greater pain elsewhere on their bodies with blunt trauma, burns or other forms of torture. 

The USDA’s final rule will require horse industry organizations to suspend anyone associated with exhibiting a sored horse.  The suspension periods increase in length for each repeat violation of the act.

“While the new rules are a significant step in the right direction, industry self-regulation is not a long-term solution,” added Perry. “The Horse Protection Act was specifically enacted in 1970 to prohibit this inhumane practice, and yet it continues to pervade the gaited horse industry. We urge Congress to amend the Horse Protection Act to incorporate meaningful penalties and ensure proper enforcement in order to end this gross animal abuse.&rdquo

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