Horse Health

USDA Proposes New Regulations to Combat Horse Soring


“…horses are subjected to chemical or mechanical irritants to enhance their gait…”

Effects of Horse SoringUSDA‘s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is proposing regulation changes to revise and strengthen the Horse Protection Act regulations to better protect horses from the cruel and inhumane practice of soring.

Soring is when certain gaited breeds of horses are subjected to chemical or mechanical irritants to enhance their gait and provide a competitive advantage in shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions.

The new proposal would change current regulations to make two significant changes:

  • USDA would train, license, and screen all horse inspectors. Currently, horse industry organizations handle these responsibilities. Under the proposed rule, inspectors would be independent veterinarians or animal health technicians who are licensed by USDA and have no affiliation with any horse industry organizations. USDA would oversee this new group of independent inspectors.
  • USDA would prohibit the use of all action devices, pads, and foreign substances that may be used to sore horses. Action devices include: boots, collars, chains, or rollers that are placed on a horse’s lower leg to accentuate the animal’s gate. Pads (or weights) are often stacked and inserted between the hoof and shoe and then tightened in place with metal bands around the hoof. In reference to foreign substances, the rule would prohibit chemical irritants such as mustard oil, diesel fuel, kerosene, and lubricants.

The proposed changes would bring the Horse Protection Act regulations into alignment with existing standards established by the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

The public is invited to weigh in on this meeting. Public meetings will be held throughout the country, for people to come and offer additional comments. To find the locations and register to attend, you can go here.

11 replies »

  1. Thank heavens they are finally doing something to put a stop to this insanity. Any person caught doing anything to horses legs should be arrested on the spot hauled to jail and then to prison for at least 10 years. I know I have signed enough petitions trying to get this outlawed.


  2. I have some interesting news coming from Western Watersheds project, it has to do with the destruction of Public Land by sheep and cattle. You will have to go to their site to read it but they have a clear photo of the damage that cattle do the the land that the wild horses are being blamed for. One half of a small creek was fenced off from livestock it didn’t say for how long but the fenced side was intact was green and healthy the cattle side was a mud hole with not a blade of grass or a plant anywhere.
    The general public don’t know anything about cattle and sheep grazing habits which are very different from horses everyone on this site knows the difference in how they eat and digest their food. If the horses had been the only animals grazing in this area the creeks small watershed would have been grazed but left intact to regrow because of the water it was getting. I have seen photos before from Western Watersheds showing nothing but destroyed creeks after the cattle and sheep left.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Please send the link and the title of which article you are referring to – thanks.
      I want to see the photos. Not surprised … just want to see the photos.
      PS I have seen similar photos and have also seen cow feces INSIDE riparian areas and have even seen cows INSIDE water troughs (and have pics) … all on OUR public lands.


  3. Grandmagregg,
    This is the site address for their main site the articles are somewhat different but the photo looks the same except the fence is gone but the damage is easily seen.
    I have been getting their newsletter for quite a long time everything this organization does and their fights to remove the cattle/sheep grazing has helped a lot in different states.


  4. Is this the article?

    New Government Report on Trespass Livestock (Photo © Jonathan Ratner)
    July 29, 2016
    Online Messenger #335

    A recently released report from the Government Accountability Office conclusively found what many WWP members already suspected: 1) Trespass livestock grazing is a pervasive problem; 2) It causes widespread ecological damage on public lands; 3) Land management agencies don’t adequately document these violations; and 4) Forest Service trespass fees are too low to serve as a deterrent. These facts add up to a very grim picture about illegal grazing activities on the lands owned and cherished by all of us.

    WWP has been documenting trespass livestock grazing for years, reporting observations of cows and sheep in the wrong pastures, staying too long on an allotment, and on sensitive areas that are supposed to be protected from damaging hooves. These types of reports don’t get taken seriously and the agencies – despite BLM regulations requiring them to take action – often just deal with permittees through a casual conversation rather than formal documentation.

    The GAO report verifies that the agencies are intimidated by dealing with high-profile repeat offenders and anti-government protestors, leading to a cycle of increased trespass grazing. The GAO found that even when the agencies do deal with trespassers, the penalties assessed are often too low to act as a deterrent. This is especially true for the Forest Service where the penalty for trespass grazing may be even less than the cost of permitted grazing elsewhere! Some ranchers consider these penalties “the cost of doing business” – within a business model that already steals value from our public trust lands.

    As if these findings weren’t bad enough, add them to the fact that the GAO found much the same thing in 1990. The agencies largely ignored the government’s recommendations then; will they pay any heed now?

    The report is a useful update on the general status of this overlooked issue, and it is due to the hard work of WWP staff in D.C. that this report was requested by Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

    Congressman Grijalva released his own press statement on the GAO findings. Grijalva stated “federal agencies’ first responsibility is to ensure the public receives a fair return for the use of public land. Right-wing anti-government rhetoric should not prevent agencies from enforcing laws written to protect the environment and economy of Western states.”

    Thank you, Congressman Grijalva. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.


  5. Thank you Barbara and Louie.
    By the way, although WWP’s main focus is not WH&B, here is something I read from them:
    “BLM must take better care of the wild horse Herd Management Area. Remove the fences that have carved it up into a series of tiny pastures, and reduce cattle conflicts.” – WWP


  6. In this 15-minute audio presentation, Mike Hudak explains how ranchers use politicians to intimidate land managers from the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management into providing rancher-friendly livestock management that is often detrimental to wildlife. Hudak cites passages from his book Western Turf Wars: The Politics of Public Lands Ranching that illuminate the topic.


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