Sore No More: USDA Finalizes Rule to Protect Walking Horses

January 13, 2017

Update—January 23, 2017:  This rule has been withdrawn as a part of the Trump administration’s government-wide regulatory freeze. As the new administration reviews this and many other pending regulations, the ASPCA will continue to push for it to be finalized. Please stay tuned—we may need you for the fight ahead!

We are pleased to report that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a final rule to prevent horse soring, protecting thousands of Tennessee Walking Horses from the painful, illegal practice and greatly improving their welfare.

Tennessee Walking Horses are known for their gentle disposition; it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to harm them. Yet perpetrators of horse soring routinely and intentionally cause pain to horses by using heavy chains and boots during training, or by applying caustic—and often toxic—substances that force them to fling their legs to avoid the pain. This is done to achieve the prized, exaggerated gait that is rewarded at competitions.

Walking horses

Although outlawed by the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970, soring has continued to pervade the Tennessee Walking Horse show industry due to an ineffectual inspection system. Perpetrators of this cruelty have gotten away with their insidious acts for decades, but that stops now.

The USDA’s new, landmark rule completely overhauls HPA inspections and enforcement, putting the welfare of horses first, ensuring that perpetrators of soring can no longer profit from their cruelty and ending this barbaric practice once and for all.

In 2016, more than 53,000 ASPCA supporters contacted the USDA to express support for the horse soring rule. Thank you for standing up for horses! We are thrilled about this victory, but the battle is far from over: The incoming administration will have the authority to prevent the rule from taking effect.