Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act by a vote of 333 to 96. The measure seeks to strengthen the Horse Protection Act and end the torturous, painful practice of soring Tennessee Walking, Racking, and Spotted Saddle Horses. The intentional infliction of pain to horses' front limbs by applying caustic chemicals such as mustard oil or kerosene or inserting sharp objects into the horses' hooves to create an exaggerated gait known as the “Big Lick,” soring has plagued the equine world for six decades.
“We applaud the House for overwhelmingly passing the PAST Act to end this barbaric and indefensible practice that has marred the horse show world for decades,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action and past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' & Exhibitors' Association. “Today's landslide vote is a powerful signal to the Senate that it should saddle up and end this cruelty to horses, that I've personally witnessed since childhood, once and for all.”
“I am pleased the House passed the PAST Act with strong bipartisan support today,” said U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). “This legislation will close loopholes that enable the cruel practice of “soring” horses. I thank Rep. Schrader for being a champion of animal welfare issues and building on the legacy of my late friend, Senator Tydings. I urge Senator McConnell to take up this bipartisan legislation without delay.”
“Horse soring still runs rampant even though laws have been on the books for decades banning this cruel practice,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR). “We gave folks a chance to self-police, but the abusive behaviors continued. The bill that was passed today will strengthen and improve current regulations by improving USDA enforcement, increasing civil and criminal penalties, and banning incentives to sore horses. This is a historic day and I am grateful for my colleagues who worked tirelessly to get this legislation across the finish line and for our equine athletes who provide us with inspiration and pleasure.”
“As a veterinarian and lover of animals, it is time we end the inhumane practice of horse soring. I want to thank House Leadership for bringing the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act up for a vote today and my colleague and fellow veterinarian Rep. Kurt Schrader for championing this bill with me over the years,” said Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL). “The walking horse industry had plenty of time to self-police and change their ways, but they decided to press on. They have failed to take advantage of this opportunity and now it is time for horse soring to end.”
“The natural gait of the Tennessee Walking Horse is a wonder to behold and has long been revered by horse lovers,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), an original sponsor of the PAST Act. “The practice of soring—burning, cutting, lacerating—these beautiful creatures just to exaggerate their gate and win shows is beyond reprehensible. I am so pleased that more than 300 House members are sponsoring The PAST Act. How we treat animals is a reflection of our national character. Today, we can be proud that the House has spoken loudly on behalf of the horses and those who love horses.”
“My granddad would be so thrilled the PAST Act passed the House by such an overwhelming margin,” said Ben Tydings Smith, grandson of the late Senator Joseph D. Tydings. “He cared so deeply for these horses and I know he is probably looking down with a big smile on his face. On behalf of the Tydings family, thank you to all the sponsors, cosponsors, and Members of the House who voted to end soring and cement grandad's legacy.”
The PAST Act would ban the use of painful large stacked shoes and ankle chains and would also eliminate the existing system of self-regulation by the industry and toughen penalties for violators of the Horse Protection Act. It's supported by Animal Wellness Action, the American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, United States Equestrian Federation, National Sheriff's Association, and Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association.
The PAST Act has been blocked for years by a handful of well-placed lawmakers, but a new House rule triggering consideration of any measure that attracts 290 or more cosponsors brought the issue to the floor. PAST attracted 308 cosponsors, and was led by U.S. Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Ted Yoho (R-FL), cochairs of the Congressional Veterinary Medicine Caucus, along with Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Ron Estes (R-KS), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Chris Collins (R-NY). The Senate companion is led by U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mark Warner (D-VA) has garnered 40 cosponsors.
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