Today we are honored to have the President of Friends Of Sound Horses (FOSH) drop by as a guest blogger to tell us all about her trip to Washington, D.C. to testify before a Congressional Subcommittee regarding the PAST (Prevent All Soring Techniques) Act. ... FOSH has been, and is on the forefront of the effort to stop the horrible practice of torturing Tennessee Walking Horses known a soring. This very important bill is gaining support in the halls of Congress but, if you can believe it, there are elected officials who oppose it. Please read Teresa's story and then share it, and contact all your legislators and tell them to enact the PAST Act (H.R. 1518, S. 1406). – Many horses are counting on us to end their pain and suffering ... We can do this, for the horses. … Thanks ~ Dutch Henry
On November 13, I was honored to testify about the PAST (Prevent All Soring Techniques) Act before the Congressional Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. The PAST Act amends the federal Horse Protection Act (HPA 1970 and 1976) which was enacted to prevent the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. (Soring is the deliberate infliction of pain upon the front hooves and legs of a horse to create a highly animated gait in the show ring). Despite being illegal for over 40 years, soring is still widespread in some show rings.
I was invited as President of Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH). FOSH is a nonprofit, all volunteer organization that focuses on ending soring. My contribution that day was to present the bleak picture of the current soring situation in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. Luckily for me, FOSH has collected and analyzed data for many years that reinforced the urgency of this animal welfare issue. With my testimony, I shared with the Subcommittee that soring is thriving and even more brutal than ever.
Despite the industry’s claim that there are only a few bad apples, the Subcommittee was informed that the FOSH-produced Repeat Violators list, single-spaced, is 260+ pages in length—quite a bit more than a few bad apples. They also learned that the industry’s claim that self-regulation works was totally false—when the USDA oversees inspections of some show rings, violations shoot up dramatically, sometimes 300% greater!
Whenever the industry explains how “clean” they are, I like to point out that 76% of the horses swabbed by the USDA at the 2012 Celebration tested positive for foreign, prohibited substances! Let me mention that using these substances is cheating. How many equestrian sporting venues have that many people cheating?
PAST provides three major changes. First, it eliminates stacks and chains on big lick horses. Why is that relevant? 93% of all USDA cited violations this year were on big lick horses. Another major change is an increase in penalties for violations and to make soring a felony. This will have a major impact on those repeat violators and also the Rider’s Cup contenders where the top 5 share 94 Horse Protection Act violations! Finally, no more industry self-regulation which has been a disaster from the beginning or else there would not be hundreds of violations every year along with horses suffering from raw and scarred pasterns.
On a lighter note, my best memories are from the many well-wishers who sent emails cheering me on before that big day. I was stunned. I was also astounded that day in Washington, D.C. to meet many of those well-wishers for the very first time—they drove and flew to the hearing to support the efforts to fight soring. Most of them went onto meet their very own legislators that day and ask for them to cosponsor the PAST Act, and I thank them for their passion and efforts to work towards the end of soring.
I encourage all horse lovers to keep the pressure on their legislators to enact PAST (H.R. 1518, S. 1406) and to support FOSH in its battle against soring by becoming a FOSH member. For more information on FOSH, please visit our website, www.fosh.info.