U.S. Sen. Mark Warner reintroduced bipartisan legislation Wednesday that would prevent horse soring.
Soring is the use of chemicals, pressure or devices that cause pain to the front feet and legs of horses when they touch the ground, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
“Horses have been a part of our Commonwealth’s history and culture since the settling of Jamestown, and like all animals, they deserve to be treated with care and compassion,” Warner said.
Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, cosponsored the bill, which is known as the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act.
Some trainers apply chemical agents like kerosene, WD-40, cinnamon oil or diesel oil to a horse’s feet and add bracelet-like chains or rollers to rub against the skin and compound the pain caused by the chemicals. The result is the horse snatches its front limbs off the ground to relieve the pain, according to the AVMA.
Current federal law prohibits the practice. But a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Inspector General has found horse trainers continue to do it.
The legislation, if passed, would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assign a licensed inspector if a horse show’s management indicated intent to hire an inspector. Licensed or accredited veterinarians would be given preference.
It would also prohibit the use of devices such as chains or pads on specific horse breeds, such as the Tennessee walker, that have a history of being subject to soring.
The legislation would raise the penalty for anyone caught soring a horse from a misdemeanor to a felony.
It increases fines from $3,000 to $5,000 per violation and permanently disqualifies those who are convicted three times from participating in horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions.