The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the final version of a rule Friday that will help protect horses from the practice of soring.
Soring is the intentional infliction of pain on horses' feet and legs to achieve a high-stepping gait for competitions. The Tennessee Walking horse breed, know for their "big lick" gait, has suffered from soring for decades. While the practice is illegal, the USDA said there is "substantial noncompliance" among the breed.
The rule is an update to the Horse Protection Act (HPA), a federal law that bans the show or sale of sore horses and prohibits the use of soring equipment. The current enforcement of the HPA, which relied on industry self-policing, was deemed inadequate by the USDA Inspector General after an audit.
Under the new regulation, the USDA will train, screen and license inspectors to enforce the HPA. It will also update the HPA to ban chains, large stacked shoes and foreign substances at horse shows, standards much of the equestrian industry already have in place.
"Horse soring is truly one of the worst practices," U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (R-TN) said in a statement. "I applaud the Obama Administration for finalizing this much-needed update to the existing Horse Protection Act regulations."
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