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March 17, 2014

New TV Ads Call for Passage of Federal Bill to End Horse Soring

The Humane Society of the United States’ national ad campaign begins in Kentucky, urges support of H.R. 1518/S. 1406, the PAST Act

A new television advertising campaign urges viewers to call their federal lawmakers and ask them to pass the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 1518/S. 1406.  The ads began airing in Kentucky on Sunday, urging viewers to call Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and ask them to support the PAST Act. The ad campaign will expand to other media markets around the country in the coming weeks.

The TV ad can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l41ILcM9s1c

The commercial is the latest effort by The Humane Society of the United States to urge Congress to pass the bill that would end soring, the cruel practice of inflicting pain to horses’ legs and feet to force them to perform an exaggerated high-stepping gait—known as the “Big Lick”—at horse shows. The Senate bill has been introduced by their Republican colleague Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and it has 51 cosponsors. The House bill has 268 cosponsors.

The bill will fortify an existing federal law, the Horse Protection Act, which was passed in 1970 to eliminate the abuse of Tennessee walking horses and other similar breeds, but is so weak that cheating and violations have been rampant for decades. The PAST Act would end the failed industry self-policing system; ban the show-ring use of chains, stacks, and excessively heavy shoes (devices that are part and parcel of the soring process); and increase penalties for violators.

Pam Rogers, Kentucky state director for The HSUS, said: “Kentucky is the heart of horse country in the U.S., and Senators McConnell and Paul should support this critical legislation to protect horses from the cruelty of soring. No other breeds are subjected to this kind of intentional form of torture, and it is a disgrace that it exists anywhere. Only an upgrade of the federal law will put an end to the horrible horse abuse that still plagues the ‘Big Lick’ show world.”

The “Big Lick” segment of the industry worked with Rep. Marsha Blackburn to introduce a sham bill that would protect horse soring and further complicate USDA enforcement of the anachronistic law on the books. Senator Paul recently told one newspaper he was considering introducing a companion bill in the Senate. 

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, said: “Senator Paul would only bring shame on himself to stand in the way of legislation to root out this form of malicious and intentional cruelty to horses. It is time for him to join a majority of his House and Senate colleagues and stand against people who put burning chemicals on the legs of horses to cause them pain and misery in order to win ribbons for themselves.”

In 2011, an HSUS investigation into Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell’s stable in Collierville, Tenn., revealed shocking cruelty to horses to a national audience, which led to the introduction of the PAST Act. The investigator recorded horses being whipped, kicked, shocked in the face and intentionally burned with caustic chemicals. The new commercial shows footage from this investigation.

The narrator in the commercial, quoting recent editorials in the Tennessean, states “The Horse Protection Act bans soring but is “not sufficient,” and industry cheaters have “decades of violations.” “Republicans and Democrats, responsible horse breeders, trainers, and veterinarians support a bill to strengthen the law and stop abusers from getting away with these crimes.”

The PAST Act is endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association (and every other state veterinary medical association), the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and the American Horse Council, along with a host of other national animal protection, veterinary, and horse industry organizations.

Media Contact:   Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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