The Humane Society of the United States applauds Nashville Metro Council members for passing Resolution 1868 to help stop the cruel practice of horse soring. This resolution puts Nashville on record in support of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 693/S. 1007 and urges Tennessee’s U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn to cosponsor and pass the legislation that will: 1) end the failed system of industry self-policing; 2) strengthen penalties; and 3) prohibit pads, action devices, hoof bands and weighted shoes from being used on Tennessee walking, racking and spotted saddle horses during shows, sales or exhibitions. All these devices are used in the practice of soring to produce the artificial, pain-based gait commonly known as the “Big Lick.”
The Metro Council’s unanimous vote follows a recent milestone victory in Congress to protect these horses. Several weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the PAST Act. by a 333 to 96 bipartisan vote. PAST will amend the Horse Protection Act, closing loopholes that have allowed violators to continue their soring practices undeterred.
Councilwoman Nancy VanReece introduced the resolution and it was approved with an amendment by Councilwoman Kathleen Murphy.
Soring involves the intentional infliction of pain on a horse's legs or hooves to force the horse to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait, the so-called “Big Lick.” Caustic chemicals—blistering agents such as mustard oil, diesel fuel and kerosene—are applied to the horse's limbs, and other gruesome techniques involving cutting, hard and sharp objects, and heavy, stacked shoes are used to cause extreme pain and suffering. The HSUS has long advocated for legislative measures to end this sinister practice. Horse soring has been illegal since the 1970’s but gaps in the law, underfunding of enforcement and a culture of acceptance has made consistent reform impossible.
Soring is widespread throughout the “Big Lick” faction of the walking horse industry. The trainers who exhibited horses in last year’s World Grand Championship class have a long history of federal Horse Protection Act violations. One of these exhibitors is currently serving a multi-year federal suspension for alleged horse soring, one has a pending multiple year suspension from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one was the subject of the HSUS undercover investigation at ThorSport Farms that revealed signs of soring and abuse, and one was previously banned for two years by Celebration officials for alleged soring and abuse.
Ending the abusive practice of soring by prohibiting the use of soring devices on these breeds has widespread support. Over 65 horse industry groups have supported the PAST Act, along with over 75 veterinary and animal health organizations and professionals, over 30 animal protection organizations, over 60 horse industry professionals, and countless celebrities such as Priscilla Presley and Emmylou Harris.
“We are very grateful to the Nashville Metro Council for its leadership in the fight to end this abuse of the horse that bears our state’s name, and we hope their initiative inspires others to support the PAST Act as the right way to reform this industry,” said Eric Swafford, Tennessee senior state director at the Humane Society of the United States.
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