To the editor:
Re: “Fighting horse cruelty,” published in the Daily Journal on July 10:
The PAST Act seeks to ban certain shoes on three breeds of horses and create a federal equine humane law under which any act or practice that causes, or could reasonably be expected to cause, a horse to suffer physical pain, distress or inflammation when walking, trotting or otherwise moving would be illegal.
Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Kentucky, stated his bill is a simple bill which says “we don’t want” padded shoes or action devices. Rep. Schakowsky said “I’ve seen the video. It’s hard to even watch the kind of burning that they do, the kind of terrible treatment of these horses to create pain in order to have the horse lift their legs in a particular way.”
The video Ms. Schakowsky refers to is the Humane Society of the United States’ undercover video which led to a trainer being indicted on federal Horse Protection Act charges as well as state animal cruelty charges — proof that existing laws do work.
The walking horse industry is more than one horse trainer. Over the Fourth of July holiday, a total of 663 horses were shown in Middle Tennessee. Each horse underwent a rigorous inspection that included iris scan, swabbing of the ankles for foreign substances, X-rays of the hoof, locomotion evaluation, blood drawn, thermography and manual palpation of their forelimbs before being allowed to compete.
Dr. Whitney Miller of the American Veterinary Medical Association is quoted “while the chains and pads in and of themselves are not causing the soring, they are a means (of) incentive to sore the horse” and “those stacked pads are a way to hide the bolts and the other ways of physical soring that they are doing to the horses,” but a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for information concerning foreign objects found between the pad and hoof produced zero results despite the fact the USDA is in possession of thousands of padded hoof X-rays.
Jay Hickey of the American Horse Council, said, “most walking horses are not sored and they are being shown right now, but it’s the spilloff of the antipathy, the taint of the soring part of it, which is a very small percentage of performance and padded horses that are hurting the industry.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals previously refused to ban the very same equipment and horse shoes that this bill is trying to do and recognized that the equipment and shoes are not abusive.
Shouldn’t laws be made on facts or science rather than “want” or “like”?