Federal authorities are taking steps to ban the illegal practices used to train Tennessee walking horses.
Writing in his blog, Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is ready to crack down on soring.
The practice of using chemical and mechanical irritants to force the horses to step higher has been illegal since 1970.
But Pacelle said “cruel, unscrupulous trainers exploit regulatory loopholes, and the corrupt industry self-regulation system allows the perpetuation of what amounts to organised crime, all for the sake of show ribbons.”
Last week the USDA sent a proposed rule to update its existing Horse Protection Act regulations to the Office of Management and Budget for White House clearance – a key step before a proposed rule is released for public comment.
For some time the HSUS has urged the USDA to take action against all soring practices.
In February last year, the nonprofit animal protection organisation filed a rulemaking petition against the USDA to ban the “stacks” and chains used in soring.
The petition called for an end to industry self-policing and a crackdown on violations by extending disqualification periods.
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“At this stage of the review process, the text of USDA’s proposed rule is not yet public. But to be effective, the proposed rule should include all of these common-sense, long-awaited reforms,” said Mr Pacelle.
“We’re going to put our shoulder behind this rule-making to put an end now to both the lawbreaking and the scourge of soring,” he added.