Source: Vin News 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finalized regulations to strengthen enforcement against soring, a painful and illegal horse-training practice that continues despite the Horse Protection Act of 1970. Soring involves inflicting pain on horses to produce an exaggerated gait, known as the “big lick,” for show competitions. The new rules, effective February 2024, address weaknesses in past enforcement, replacing the industry-run inspection program with one managed by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and prioritizing equine veterinarians.

The regulations also ban certain soring devices. Although financial penalties remain unchanged, the new rules aim to enhance detection and enforcement to protect horses. Despite past attempts to reform regulations, including a failed effort in 2017, the USDA has incorporated findings from a 2021 review, emphasizing the need for veterinarian-led inspections. The rules face potential legal challenges, but the USDA believes they are legally sound. Legislative efforts, like the PAST Act, continue to seek further reforms.

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