The Humane Society of the United States announced that it will pay a reward of $10,000 to the horse industry participant who provided critical evidence that led to the arrest and conviction of Barney Davis, a Tennessee trainer of Spotted Saddle horses. The announcement came after a federal judge sentenced Davis to serve one year and one day in prison and pay a $4,000 fine on charges related to “soring” horses. The practice causes intentional pain to the feet or legs of horses with the application of caustic chemicals to burn a horse’s skin or by inserting foreign objects to the sensitive areas of their hooves. In reaction to the pain, horses lift their front legs high off the ground, producing the exaggerated gait rewarded in the show ring.
Davis and four others had been charged with conspiring to violate the federal Horse Protection Act by “soring” horses. They were also charged with falsifying entry forms and other paperwork, and knowingly transporting a sored horse to a show. Davis was further charged with additional fraud, wire fraud and money laundering counts.
Davis pleaded guilty to several of the counts, including various violations of the Horse Protection Act, last November. As part of his sentence, he was ordered to either write an article or cooperate in the production of an educational video describing horse soring methods and their effects on the horses, explaining how widespread the practice is in the industry, and demonstrating how inspectors can better detect sored horses.
“We applaud this sentence and are gratified that our reward program has helped bring a soring offender to justice,” said Keith Dane, director of equine protection for the HSUS. “We also thank the Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Agriculture for this aggressive pursuit of soring violators and urge the federal government to continue to make enforcement of this Act a top priority.”
Although the Horse Protection Act has been in place for more than 40 years, violators have seldom been prosecuted. This conviction is an important step in protecting horses from the cruel act of soring. The HSUS has long been dedicated to ending this inhumane practice, and in 2010 filed a petition with USDA that outlined steps to improve agency enforcement of the Act. In a positive move, Congress passed a 2012 agriculture appropriations bill that increased funding for HPA enforcement by nearly 40 percent.
- Media Relations