WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) has led his colleagues in introducing the Protecting Horses from Soring Act of 2022, which would end the harmful practice of soring in show horses while preventing inhibitory bureaucratic overregulation to preserve the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. The industry is vital for America’s agriculture economy, providing billions of dollars in economic impact across several states and employing over 20,000 people. The legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) along with Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Rand Paul (R-KY).
“The Tennessee Walking Horse industry is steeped in rich tradition dating back to 1886, and every year thousands of enthusiasts gather in Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the celebration of this great animal,” said Senator Hagerty. “I am pleased to introduce legislation that will support this important industry by bringing regulatory certainty that is objective and scientifically based while protecting horses, breeders, and competitors moving forward.”
“The Volunteer State has a rich history with Tennessee Walking Horses,” said Senator Blackburn. “Bad actors are using caustic chemicals, pressure shoeing, and other harmful practices to undermine the prestige of the industry. The Protecting Horses from Soring Act of 2022 will stop these bad actors and ensure that this Volunteer State tradition continues for years to come.”
Specifically, the Protecting Horses from Soring Act of 2022 would give state officials and industry and equine experts with extensive experience the authority to ensure consistent oversight of inspections related to horse soring. It would also require objective scientific testing, prevent conflicts of interest, and suspend horses from shows if they are found to be sore, as defined by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) commissioned report published by the National Academy of Sciences.
- After receiving pressure from animal rights activists and leftist ideologues, the Biden Administration is considering a proposed rule that could kill the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.
- A competing bill, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act of 2021, would expand the USDA’s current jurisdiction over horse show inspections, an entity that has already been proven to be ineffective and would likely increase costs to all U.S. taxpayers.
- The PAST Act of 2021 would also ban many industry-wide, standard training and show devices and has been described by the Performance Show Horse Association as legislation that would “do little more than create another layer of bureaucracy at the USDA while denying horse enthusiasts the opportunity” to participate in competitions that are the basis of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.