Horse Protection Act (HPA; US)


By Michael J. Lynch, University of South Florida, FL


The Horse Protection Act (HPA; 15 U.S.C. 1821-1831) was passed in 1970. The HPA is primarily directed at a practice called “soring,” that is the use of chemicals, “pressure,” the burning, cutting or scoring of a horses foot or leg, and the use of specially designed horse shoes which produces lameness (i.e., soreness) that can cause a horse to lifts its feet rapidly when walking to produce a fanciful gait. Soring began to emerge in the 1950s in an effort to give those willing to use this practice an edge in horse show events. By the 1960s, the practice had become widespread.

The HPA makes it illegal to show, sell, transport, auction, exhibit, receive or offer for sale a horse that has been purposefully sored. Violations of the HPA may be pursued civilly or criminally. Civil fines may range to $ 50,000 and can include the suspension of show/exhibition/sale licenses. Criminal penalties may include fines up to $5,000 as well as imprisonment for a period of up to two years.

APHIS’s enforcement budget is quite small (less than $700,000 annually) making it difficult for AHPIS to regulate the practice of soring, and to attend all horse shows and exhibitions where sored horses may be on display. In order to enhance enforcement of the HPA, in 1976 Congress amended the HPA to allow the use of Designated Qualified Persons (DQP) to help enforce the HPA as horse show events. The DQP is appointed by horse show officials to identify horses that have been sored.

The following link is to a Humane Society video interview with Barney Davis, who was convicted of horse soring and served a prison term Davis Video.

Further Reading


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