By MATTHEW WEAVER
A new USDA rule will help eliminate the practice of horse soring, the agency announced.
The practice is primarily used in training Tennessee Walking Horses. Soring is done by irritating or blistering a horse's forelegs through chemical application or mechanical devices, according to the USDA.
The USDA recently amended regulations to require horse industry organizations to assess minimum penalties for violations of the Horse Protection Act.
Rebecca Blue, deputy under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said requiring minimum penalties will ensure the organizations remain consistent in inspections.
"Our goal, together, is to make horse soring a thing of the past," Blue stated in a press release.
USDA encouraged self-regulation in the industry by allowing individual organizations to assess penalties for soring violations, according to the release. But a September 2010 Office of Inspector General audit found that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service program for industry self-regulation has not been adequate to prevent abuse.
The final rule requires that suspensions for violating the law be issued to any individuals who show a sore horse, allows the entry of that horse in a show or sells, buys or ships a sore horse.
The rule includes the manager, trainer, rider, custodian, seller or owner of the horse.