Press Release

Federal Legislation Aimed at Ending Soring Reintroduced by Sens. Mike Crapo and Mark Warner

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Ida., and Mark Warner, D-Va., reintroduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act designed to end the horrific practice of soring Tennessee Walking, Racking, and Spotted Saddle Horses.

Soring is the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ front limbs and feet by means of applying caustic chemicals such as diesel fuel and croton oil to the skin and inserting sharp objects in the soft tissue of the hoof to produce an artificial manufactured gait known as the “big lick,” that’s prized in Tennessee and Kentucky.

“We applaud Sens. Crapo and Warner for their tireless work to end the scourge of soring that’s marred the equine world for six decades,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action and past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association. “We remain committed to achieving the implementation of meaningful felony penalties and uniform inspections as well as the eradication of gruesome devices used to produce the unnatural exaggerated ‘big lick’ gait.”

“The United States is decades over in fortifying the 1970 Horse Protection Act,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Center for a Humane Economy.  “By working with key stakeholders, the Congress can pass a solid, enforceable bill that will stop the barbaric practice of horse soring.”

“I support the humane treatment of all animals and the responsible training of horses,” said Senator Mike Crapo.  “Soring is cruel and inhumane and I remain committed to ending its practice.  The PAST Act would finally end this horrible training operation.”

“For over 400 years, horses have been a quintessential part of Virginia’s culture and history,” said Senator Mark Warner.  “I am proud to reintroduce the bipartisan PAST Act, which would protect horses from mistreatment and abuse by increasing penalties for individuals who engage in the harmful and deliberate practice of soring.”


Leaders at Animal Wellness Action have worked to enact the PAST Act since 2012 when it was first introduced in the U.S. House by Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. The original measure would ban the use of large, stacked shoes and ankle chains in the showring, eliminate the industry’s failed self-policing program, and would increase penalties for those caught soring horses.

The PAST Act only achieved passage of the measure through the House in 2019 as result of changing the bill’s name to the U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial PAST Act to honor the late Joe Tydings, a Democrat for Maryland who authored the HPA in 1970 and passed away in 2018. The measure cleared the U.S. House by a vote of 333 to 96, but with opposition from Senators who hailed from Tennessee and Kentucky and 96 House Republicans opposing the measure, the bill was dead on arrival in the Upper Chamber. In light of that circumstance AWA pulled together representatives still involved in the breed to form revisions to the PAST Act that would help get the measure through the Senate. 

And after eighteen grueling months and hundreds of hours on the phone with the industry insiders, coalition partners issued a draft of the compromise bill to the Senators and several equine and animal protection groups. Like the original PAST Act, the revised PAST Act still banned the chains but allowed for a much smaller and removable shoe (about sixty percent less in size than those used today), and it still increased the penalties, eliminated the self-policing scheme, and even went further than the original PAST Act to ban the use of treacherous devices known as tail braces that hold the horses tail in a U-shaped position after the ligaments in the tail have been severed – all for a certain look.  Had it been enacted at the end of 2020, it would be law this November, forbidding a wide range of cruelty practices long endemic to the industry.

The effort garnered support for the revised PAST Act from Monty Roberts, “the Man Who Listens to Horses;” Mark Miller – the lead singer of the band Sawyer Brown who used to own walking horses; the Citizens’ Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty; the family of Joe Tydings;’ SPCA International; NYCLASS; and many other horse and animal related groups. And the effort was building steam until it saw opposition from the Humane Society of the U.S., the Humane Society Legislative Fund, and some other organizations that have been past endorsers of the original legislation. The PAST Act, despite strong leadership by Senators Crapo and Warner, has never come up for a vote in the Senate since it was introduced in 2012.  Opposition from lawmakers from Kentucky and Tennessee has long stalled the measure in the Senate.

While the sabotaging of the solid compromise legislation in 2020 is regrettable – and will almost certainly delay the delivery of reform within the industry — there may be another shot at it with today’s reintroduction of the PAST Act.

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News

Center for a Humane Economy is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) whose mission is to help animals by helping forge a more humane economic order. The first organization of its kind in the animal protection movement, the Center encourages businesses to honor their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and the degradation of the environment and embrace innovation as a means of eliminating both. The Center believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @TheHumaneCenter

Animal Wellness Foundation is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability. We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver. We are advocates for getting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper. We also support policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering. We believe helping animals helps us all.