A federal regulation finalized in the last days of the Obama administration would have ended the abusive practice of horse soring.
But Donald Trump, on his first day in office, put the rule on hold, issuing a memorandum for all unpublished rules to be withdrawn and sent back to the relevant agency for review.
Federal officials in Barack Obama’s administration had made regulatory changes under the Horse Protection Act aimed at stopping the practice of “soring” Tennessee Walking Horses and similar breeds.
Soring is the intentional injury of a horse’s legs to make the animal have a higher gait. It involves the infliction of pain — by mechanical or chemical means — on the hooves and lower legs of horses to force them into the high-stepping gait known as the “big lick” in Tennessee Walking Horse lingo.
Before Trump’s inauguration, the final rule was set to be published in the Federal Register and become effective by next January.
The rule would:
• Prohibit the use of stacked shoes, ankle chains and other “action devices” at competitions featuring Tennessee Walking Horses and Racking Horses.
• Abolish the industry self-policing system and implements a network of third-party inspectors licensed and overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Humane Society of the United States called soring a “barbaric and gratuitous” practice.
“Horse soring is a stain on Tennessee’s reputation and the move by the USDA begins to wipe that stain away,” Humane Society president and CEO Wayne Pacelle said in a statement. “Hurting horses so severely for mere entertainment is disgraceful and I put this abuse in the same category as dogfighting or cockfighting — practices that betray our humanity and that cannot stand the light of day.”