Please watch this taped archive of today's Congressional hearing on the PAST Act to amend the Horse Protection Act. You should read yesterday's Hoof Blog article on this hearing, and the commentary below.
While the subject is limited to soring and how it affects Walking horses and their showing rules, there are many subtle aspects of the bill that can be far-reaching or that need to be clarified.
Rumors in the industry are that farriers will need to shoe according to a veterinary prescription as a result of this law and that there may be consequences that will set precedents in other parts of the horse industry. That is not specifically stated in the text of the bill, but it is a good reason why hearings like this should be monitored by everyone who works with horses or has a stake in the industry.
It is also possible that opponents of the bill hope to inspire farriers to rally against the legislation. Farriers are generally against soring, but they are also in favor of a clearly-stated Horse Protection Act under which they can pursue their livelihoods legally and safely.
As stated yesterday, the option for "a weighted shoe, pad, wedge, hoof band, or other device or material" to be optionally designated as "protective" or "therapeutic" and still be allowed in the show ring leaves a gaping loophole in the bill's text.
The lack of any involvement or comments on the proposed legislation from any farrier organizations is deeply concerning.
What is also concerning is that people who see a Big Lick horse assume that it is sore. If a horse is in the show ring, it has passed inspection and found to be "not sore". Merely stopping soring will not stop the Big Lick. But taking away pads, chains and bands will, so it is important to understand that there are several parts of this bill.
While some proponents of the bill concentrate on the inspection process, others concentrate on the pad stacks and action devices. Still others emphasize the chemical soring done to pasterns.
We already have a Horse Protection Act, but it has failed to stop soring. Let's hope they get it right this time, for the horses' sake and for the future of the entire horse industry.
Witnesses beginning at 10 a.m. seen on the video:
John Bennett, DVM,
Equine Services, LLC,
on behalf of Performance Show Horse Association
W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA,
Executive Vice President & CEO
American Veterinary Medical Association,
Former Administrator USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
James J. Hickey, Jr.
American Horse Council
International Director and Former President
Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association
The Honorable Julius Johnson
Tennessee Department of Agriculture
Friends of Sound Horses
International Walking Horse Association
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