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David Sacks (301) 734-5271
Lyndsay Cole (970) 494-7410

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2011--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to require horse industry organizations to impose minimum USDA-mandated penalties for horse soring.

“Our goal remains the same—to eliminate the cruel practice of soring horses,” said Chester Gipson, APHIS' Deputy Administrator for animal care. “This proposed rule will increase consistency and strengthen our enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.”

Currently, horse industry organizations (HIOs) can either follow their own penalty protocol or abide by APHIS' penalty structure. The proposed rule issued today would require HIOs to adopt the APHIS penalty structure as minimum standards. This action would ensure that the penalties applied by the 12 HIOs are more consistent.

In September 2010, USDA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) found deficiencies in APHIS' horse protection program. One of OIG's recommendations was that APHIS develop and implement protocols to more consistently penalize individuals who have violated the Horse Protection Act. APHIS developed a minimum penalty protocol and is proposing a regulatory requirement to ensure all HIOs follow it.

Congress passed the Horse Protection Act in 1970 to eliminate the practice of soring by prohibiting the showing or selling of sored horses. Soring is a cruel and abusive practice used to accentuate a horse's gait by irritating or blistering a horse's forelegs. APHIS works actively with the horse industry to protect against such abuse and ensure that only sound and healthy horses participate in shows. The Agency's ultimate goal is to end this inhumane practice completely.

This action is published in today's May 27 Federal Register.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before July 26, 2011. You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to
    main? main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2011-0030 to submit or view comments and to view supporting and related materials available electronically.

  • Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send two copies of your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2011-0030, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to Docket No. APHIS-2011-0030.

Comments are posted on the website and may also be reviewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th St. and Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 690-2817.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call
(800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).



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