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FOSH President Testifies before Congressional Subcommittee on PAST Act
On November 13, Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH) President, Teresa Bippen, and other officials testified before the House of Representatives Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee in Washington D.C. on the widespread soring abuse of Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses and Spotted Saddle Horses and on FOSH’s strong support for the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) bill (H.R. 1518).
The PAST bill amends the Horse Protection Act (HPA 1970) to close loopholes that have allowed cruel soring practices to exist for over 40 years. Soring is the deliberate infliction of pain upon the front legs and hooves of a gaited horse to create a highly animated gait in some show rings. Although soring is illegal, it is a common training technique in some regions of the U.S. and has attracted negative international attention. The PAST bill provides for stronger penalties, elimination of stacks and chains and abolishment of the current inspection system which is riddled with conflicts of interests and corruption.
Bippen relied upon 27 years’ of data, and FOSH research and analysis to educate legislators on the extent of soring abuse despite Walking Horse industry claims that the problem is only a few bad apples. The industry’s current noncompliance with the law was evidenced by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) swabbing at the 2012 Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration where 145 out of 190 horses tested positive for foreign prohibited substances resulting in a 76% noncompliance rate. More recently, 93% of all 2013 HPA violations reported through April were on padded and chained horses. Weak penalties were addressed by Bippen when she testified that the Repeat Violators report at the publicly available www.hpadata.us site was 260 pages long, single spaced.
Analysis indicates the stigma of soring has caused great economic harm to the breeds because of the failure of the Horse Protection Act to eradicate the problem. Bippen concluded, “PAST can fix the deficiencies in the current law, restore honor to the breeds afflicted by soring and bring more people and dollars back into those breeds when soring is eliminated.”
Earlier this year, Bippen and other sound horse and veterinarian officials met with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to update him on the negative impact of soring on the Walking Horse industry.
FOSH is a national leader in the promotion of natural, sound gaited horses and actively fights against abuse and soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. To become a member of FOSH and help in its efforts to fight soring or for more information about FOSH and its programs for gaited horse owners, please visit www.fosh.info.
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