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U.S. Department of Agriculture report says show horses are at risk of abuse

HorseSilhouette WASHINGTON — A federal report says show horses are at risk of abuse because of lax government oversight.

At issue is the illegal practice of soring, which involves irritating the horse's foreleg and hoof to force the animal to walk with a certain gait.

Auditors at USDA, which oversees the animals' safety, said in an internal Agriculture Department report released Thursday that inspectors hired by the industry to ward against the practice are often under pressure from their employers to ignore the abuse.

The department's inspector general said soring is ingrained in the industry and many do not see it as a serious problem. The report recommended USDA hire independent veterinarians to inspect the animals instead of the industry-sponsored vets.

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-- Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press

Photo: A horse (not one that has been subjected to the practice of soring) is seen in silhouette at a horse show in 1998. Credit: Eric Draper / Associated Press

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The soring issue has been an area of concern since the Horse Protection Act was passed by Congress in 1970. Thus, soring must truly be ingrained in the industry if no efforts have helped after 40 long years. Because of the inflated monetary value of show horses, welfare issues often linger without being resolved. I believe the FEI was right on target when they pointed out that horse welfare is ultimately up to each rider who gets to make the choice about whether to climb aboard...or not.


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