Success: USDA Announces Rule to End Show Horse Mutilation

Target: Tom Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture

Goal: Applaud decision to create a stricter law against horse soring, a process where horses’ legs are intentionally mutilated.

The USDA recently announced a strict new rule that will protect horses from soring, a process where the legs of Tennessee walking horses and other related breeds are mutilated to create a high-stepping gait. This is done for horse shows, where the exaggerated gait is prized by judges. To induce this unnatural gait, caustic chemicals are placed on the animals’ hooves and legs, severely burning them and causing extreme pain. While soring is illegal, it is currently very easy for trainers to get around the law. The USDA’s new ruling will make it much harder for trainers to use soring on their horses.

When the USDA’s new rule goes into effect on January 1, 2018, trainers will no longer be able to use stacks and chains on Tennessee walking horses. These barbaric tools cause even more pain while the horses legs are being burned by chemicals. The chains are also attached to the horses’ hooves, giving them the prized gait.

Most of the chemicals used in horse soring are already banned, but they are still often used by trainers. This is because trainers are allowed to self-police under the current Horse Protection Act (HPA). To combat this, the USDA’s new rule states that licensed Horse Protection Inspectors will investigate horse trainers to ensure that soring is not taking place. The managers of HPA-covered events will also have to submit records of their events to the USDA.

This victory for show horses comes after years of tireless work from animal advocates  and members of the ForceChange community, who signed petitions like this one. This success is a huge win for horses, but there is still more work to be done. The USDA needs to ensure that this new rule goes through and into effect during President-elect Trump’s time in office. Sign this petition to thank the USDA for protecting horses from senseless pain, and to urge them to be vigilant in ensuring that the rule goes through during the Trump presidency.


Dear Secretary Vilsack,

Thank you for creating a new, stricter rule against horse soring on Tennessee walking horses and other related breeds. While this process is illegal, it is currently easy for trainers to get around the rule. Your new rule explicitly bans many of the devices used in horse soring, including chains and stacks. The new rule also fixes many of the faults in the Horse Protection Act, ensuring more rigorous protections for the animals.

As you know, horse soring is an extremely cruel process used to induce the high-stepping gait trainers strive for. This gives trainers an unfair advantage at shows, while causing unnecessary pain for the horses. Your new, stricter horse soring law will save countless horses from this gruesome treatment. Thank you for standing up for show horses. Now, I urge you to ensure that this ruling goes into effect under the Trump administration.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Mary B

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  1. So they can continue to torture and abuse horses until January 1, 2018???? Better late than never, but ignorant!

    • They have to give the trainers time to reacclimate the horses to not wearing stacks. The heavy pads alter the angle of the hoof so pulling them off would permanently lame every one of the horses. Basically they have to work backwards and gradually lower the height and weight of the pads til the horse has normal shoes again.

  2. Lynda J. Murphy says:

    I stood outside during November Election Day crowds in Andover, MA, holding signs to help pass laws requiring larger, more humane crates for factory farm animals: Good news: The law passed. Bad news: the change doesn’t go into effect for SIX MORE YEARS. !!!! Sure! The farmers need SIX YEARS to change their holding pens? Terrible!!

  3. So true. Why does it take so long to put a bill in place.

  4. Linda Amundson says:

    Good but it shouldn’t take a year to take effect. If the victims were children, it’d be stopped immediately.

    • Exactly. Also there’s another petition going about saying Trump has prevented this law being put in place. Which is the true situation???

  5. I’m so glad saddlebreds don’t do soring

  6. Angela Rabon says:

    That just means we start over with petitions, telephone calls, and emails to let them know that one year or six years is inadequate for the animals! Holding pens??? Excuse!! Take the torture stacks and chains off; and, stop all soring practices now. That requires NOTHING NEW!! We need to keep the momentum going. We have a partial victory. Time = Torture , AND WE SAY NO!!!!

  7. Melinda Funk says:

    Sad to know this is hurting the horses and still taking their time to have the bill come into effect…THIS IS ABUSE!!!

  8. Margrit Simons says:

    Thank you!

  9. Lisa Allred Lisa Zarafonetis says:

    Glad to hear that, however, I’ll believe it when I see it❗?
    Signed & shared ?

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