The Herald-Dispatch |


Fighting Dog Abuse
Check here for information on dog abuse cases, law and rescue group information. Tamara Myers-White also will answer questions or direct you to a link or e-mail of someone with the answers.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Horse Protection Act.

This post is not about dog abuse, but horse abuse. Dogs are not the only animals that are abused. I showed American Saddlebreds for many, many years and saw first hand at horse shows what was happening to the Tennessee Walkers. The Walkers were able to show at American Saddlebred sanctioned shows. Racking horses were not popular back then. Now, they are everywhere. This area is full of them. I am sure that someone will come back and say to me that cutting the tendon in the Saddlebred's tail to get it to stand up is cruel, and having to wear a tail-set is too. Soring of feet is horrendous and using a tail set does not even come close to abuse. This is my opinion.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) enforces the Horse Protection Act (HPA). The HPA is a Federal law that prohibits horses that have been subjected to a practice called soring from
participating in auctions, exhibitions, sales, or shows. The HPA also prohibits drivers from transporting sored horses to or from any of these events. Soring is a cruel and inhumane practice used to accentuate a horse’s gait. Soring may be accomplished by irritating or blistering a horse’s forelegs through the injection or application of chemicals or mechanical devices that cause irritation. Soring may also be accomplished by the infliction of cuts, lacerations, or burns, or by the engagement of any practice that could reasonably be expected to cause a horse to suffer pain or distress while walking, trotting, or otherwise moving. An accentuated gait may also be accomplished by using inhumane hoof trimming or pressure-shoeing techniques. Sored horses sometimes develop permanent scars in the pastern area due to the use of the painful chemicals or devices involved in the soring process. When it walks, a sored horse responds by quickly lifting its front legs to relieve pain. In the 1950s, some horse owners and trainers who wanted to improve their horses’ chances to win at shows used soring as an unfair shortcut to conventional training methods. Because sored horses gained a competitive edge, the practice became popular and widespread in the 1960s. Public outcry over this abusive practice led to the Horse Protection Act, which Congress passed in 1970 and amended in 1976. The HPA is intended to ensure that responsible horse owners and trainers will not suffer as a result of unfair competition from those who sore their horses and that horses will not be subjected to the cruel practice of soring. Although the HPA covers all horse breeds, Tennessee walking horses, racking horses, and other high-stepping breeds are the most frequent victims of soring. Responsibility for preventing sored horses from being exhibited, shown, or sold rests with owners, riders, sellers, trainers, and managers of these events. Owners and trainers benefit if a horse wins a show or sells for a high price, thus leading to greater incentive to sore the horse. Event managers, however, have the major legal responsibility to exclude or disqualify sored horses at their auctions, exhibitions, sales, or shows. Designated Qualified Persons To facilitate enforcement of the HPA, APHIS established the designated qualified person (DQP) program. DQPs are USDA-accredited veterinarians with equine experience, or they are farriers, horse trainers, or other knowledgeable horse people who have been formally trained and licensed by USDAcertified horse industry organizations or associations. DQPs are hired by the managers of a sale or show to assure that sored horses are not exhibited or offered for auction. DQPs are responsible for physically inspecting every Tennessee walking horse and racking horse before it may be exhibited, shown, or sold and every first-place horse after it is shown. DQPs must report to show management any horses that do not meet Federal regulations under the HPA. It is show management’s legal responsibility to disqualify sored horses. Monitoring DQPs and Enforcing the HPA APHIS inspection teams attend some horse events to conduct unannounced inspections. The APHIS inspection team may include veterinary medical officers (VMOs), animal care inspectors (ACIs), and investigators. The primary responsibility of APHIS’ VMOs is to evaluate the DQPs’ inspection procedures. VMOs also observe horses during shows, sales, and exhibitions and may examine any horse for signs of soring. DQPs may have their license canceled if their inspection procedures do not meet HPA standards.

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