(Nov.2, 2020) - A new poll released by the Humane Society of the United States reveals that the vast majority of Kentucky voters surveyed oppose horse soring—the intentional infliction of pain on the hooves and legs of horses in the Tennessee walking, racking and spotted saddle horse breeds. The practice uses caustic chemicals and chains as well as cutting and other gruesome techniques to force the animals to perform an artificial high-stepping gait for the show ring known as the “big lick.”
More than three quarters (78%) of those polled expressed support for the legislative solution to end soring provided by the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, S. 1007/H.R. 693, which is also backed by the Humane Society Legislative Fund. The poll, commissioned by the HSUS and conducted in October by Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy, closely mirrors the results of the same poll conducted in Tennessee at the beginning of this year—in which 82% of voters polled in that state share the views of their Kentucky neighbors in support of this legislation.
Despite wide political divides on many issues, horse soring and the pending federal bill to stop it are one topic that the vast majority of Kentuckians and Tennesseans agree on. Respondents across all categories—political affiliation, gender, age and geographic region of each state – voiced resounding support for the legislative solution provided by the PAST Act.
The PAST Act was carefully crafted with the input of numerous stakeholders in the horse industry and veterinary community to address the problem of soring of the animals who have been victimized by this practice in the three breeds the legislation covers. Other breeds that have not historically been subjected to this cruelty are not impacted by the legislation.
The bill is endorsed by hundreds of organizations and individuals in the equestrian, veterinary, law enforcement and animal protection communities. The landmark legislation was passed by a wide, bipartisan vote of 333-96 in the House of Representatives in July of 2019, and identical legislation passed the Senate Commerce Committee in 2014.
“It’s now up to the U.S. Senate, where 52 Senators are cosponsoring S. 1007, to do the will of the people and move this bill to passage,” said Keith Dane, HSUS senior adviser on equine protection. “The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act is the only legislative solution that will finally end the abuse of these horses that has persisted for over half a century, and we are hopeful the leaders in the Senate and its Commerce Committee will recognize the broad support and urgent need for the bill’s enactment.”
“The people of Kentucky and Tennessee—like the rest of the country—want Congress to pass legislation that will finally and effectively put an end to the heinous cruelty of soring, where scofflaw trainers deliberately torment these horses to get them to fling their front legs high, just to win a cheap blue ribbon in the show ring. It’s like forcing an Olympian to wear broken glass in her shoes so the pain will make her leap higher over the hurdles,” said Sara Amundson, president of Humane Society Legislative Fund. “It’s time for the Senate to bring the PAST Act over the finish line.”
Congress passed the Horse Protection Act nearly 50 years ago to end this abuse, but a 2010 audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Inspector General and undercover investigations by the HSUS of top trainers and owners in 2012 and 2015 found that rampant soring persists. The PAST Act will end the failed system of industry self-policing, ban devices integral to soring, strengthen penalties and hold abusers accountable—all for negligible cost.
Pollsters phoned 625 registered Kentucky voters. All indicated they were likely to vote in the November general election. The margin for error is no more than ±4 percentage points.