A federal bill to protect Tennessee walking horses from the cruel practice known as “soring” reached two congressional milestones by far surpassing 218 cosponsors in the House (at 240 and counting) and by earning its 50th cosponsor in the U.S. Senate: Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee. Between them, the House and Senate versions of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 3268 and S. 1121, have 290 cosponsors from 42 states across the country. In addition to strong bipartisan cosponsorship of a majority in each chamber, the PAST Act also enjoys broad support from a coalition of the nation’s leading horse industry, veterinary, law enforcement and animal protection groups.

Competing bills, backed by the Big Lick segment of the Tennessee Walking horse industry have been introduced by Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-4th/Tenn., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and between them have only 11 cosponsors. Their bills offer the guise of reform but would actually allow abusive trainers in the “Big Lick” sector of the walking horse industry to continue soring horses with chemicals and pain-inducing devices and would further weaken current enforcement efforts by handing off power to the perpetrators.

Keith Dane, vice president of equine protection for The Humane Society of the United States, said: “Only the PAST Act can bring about the changes needed to finally break the cycle of abuse that is endemic to the Big Lick industry and restore the integrity and reputation of one of America’s great horse breeds. We call on the leadership of the House and Senate to heed the will of the vast array of endorsers and the American people and bring this legislation to the floor for a vote.”

The PAST Act is backed not only by the HSUS and other animal welfare groups, but also by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Veterinary Medical Association, Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, American Horse Council, United States Equestrian Federation, National Sheriffs’ Association and hundreds of other groups. All reputable horse industry groups that have taken a stand on the issue have endorsed the PAST Act.

The HSUS’ undercover investigations years apart at two top Big Lick training barns revealed systemic abuse and highlight the urgent need for the PAST Act, despite the industry’s continued claims that it has cleaned up. Several of the horses victimized during the 2015 investigation at ThorSport Farm in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, were allowed by the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration to compete at the championship show, and they won high awards. One such victim, the 2015 Reserve World Grand Champion He’s Vida Blue, died recently of colic—a condition often triggered by the pain and stress of soring.

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