A USDA regulation banning the use of soring, stacked shoes, and action devices was passed in early 2017 but its application came to an abrupt halt when the new Trump administration blocked all recently passed regulations.
Yesterday saw the culmination of efforts to pass similar legislation that will ban the use of strategies and devices that significantly alter the gaits of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse, and Spotted Saddle Horse breeds in the form of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act. The Act was passed earlier in the US House of Representatives in a decisive 333 to 96 vote.
Some exhibitors have expressed fears that ending the Big Lick with stricter or broader regulations will put an end to the industry as a whole since most show classes require some degree of modification (primarily the stacked shoes) to produce the desired exaggerated action.
When flat shod, these gaited breeds can make versatile riding horses with smooth movement. They appeal to ordinary horse owners looking for a comfortable and sure-footed ride.
Equine vets have praised the passing of the Act. The hope is that these new rules will make it much more difficult to skirt existing regulations by banning the use of more visible devices that are often used in conjunction with the cruel but less detectable practice of soring – as well as by raising penalties and prison sentences.
The Senate version of the bill has yet to pass.