Bill banning animal cruelty merits Senate passage

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Joy Smith of Mississippi attempted to “educate” readers in this forum (“Padded shoes, action devices don’t harm horses,” Aug. 15) about the federal Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (H.R. 693), which recently passed the U.S. House by a bipartisan vote of 333-96 with support from most Republicans including North Carolina Reps. Budd, Hudson, McHenry and Walker and Democrats Adams, Butterfield and Price.

PAST was introduced by two animal vets in Congress, one of whom, Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Florida, said eloquently during floor debate that the issue came down to a simple question: “you are either for animal abuse or you are against it.”

Since Ms. Smith is an active participant in the “big lick” faction of the walking horse business, which subjects horses to “soring” — the use of painful chemicals, heavy chains and shoes, cutting and other gruesome techniques to force them to perform an exaggerated high-stepping gait that wins prizes — she naturally opposes legislation that would end this cruelty. I’m glad that North Carolina decided years ago to eliminate the big lick from our N.C. State Fair horse shows.

Smith incorrectly claimed that Rep. George Holding supported PAST. Like so much disinformation that she spreads in print and across social media regarding the abuse inflicted on the three gaited breeds that PAST covers, she is often wrong but never in doubt. To set the record straight, Holding voted against PAST, on the losing side, and for animal abuse as Rep. Yoho said.

Regarding the headline of Smith’s letter, “Padded shoes, action devices don’t harm horses,” note the 1975 U.S. Department of Agriculture “Ames Study,” which reported: “In reality, the ‘Big Lick’ should be called the ‘Sore Lick’ because it is performed by a horse, which by all diagnostic criteria is unsound and unfit to show ... long hooves plus pads and weighted shoes aid in this action ... The weight, action devices and degree of soreness govern how high and how far the horse will reach with the front feet.”

All of Smith’s disinformation cannot conceal that a recent world grand champion horse trainer served a federal suspension for soring violations, beginning the day after he won the “coveted” title at The Celebration horse show.

Soring is hardly a thing of the past, and the big lick is a pain-induced artificial gait. I hope Sens. Burr and Tillis will get on the right side of history and co-sponsor the PAST Act, S. 1007.

Kaitlin Grady