The Horse Protection Act

The Horse Protection Act can be found in its entirety at 15 USC (United States Code), Chapter 44.

Section 1824 specifically prohibits the shipping, transport, moving, delivering or receiving of any horse which is sore with reason to believe that such horse while it is sore may be shown, exhibited, entered for the purpose of being shown or exhibited, sold, auctioned or offered for sale, in any horse show, horse exhibition, horse sale or auction.

The definition of sore when used to describe a horse means that (a) an irritating blistering agent has been applied internally or externally by a person to any limb of a horse; (b) any burn, cut or laceration has been inflicted by a person on any limb of a horse; (c) any tack, nail, screw or chemical agent has been injected by a person into or used by a person on any limb of a horse, or (d) any other substance or device has been used by a person on any limb of a horse or person has engaged in a practice involving a horse and, as a result of such application, infliction, injection, use or practice, such horse suffers, or can reasonably be expected to suffer, physical pain or distress, inflammation, or lameness when walking, trotting or otherwise moving, except when used in connection with the therapeutic treatment of a horse by or under the supervision of a person licensed to practice veterinary medicine.

Seems rather simply, right? If you apply or inject `a blistering agent or chemical agent to the limbs of any horse, the resulting chemical burns should be simple enough to detect and more than adequate proof available to punish the wrongdoer. If you cut or burn the limbs of a horse, that should also be a no-brainer. The use of tacks, nails and screwed injected in the limbs of a horse would be rather obvious and a slam dunk for the prosecution of such acts.

When you consider “any practice” by which the horse suffers pain, distress, inflammation, or lameness when walking, trotting or otherwise moving, that is also simple when you are familiar with the terms. “Pain” is defined as physical suffering or distress and “distress” is defined as great pain. Inflammation is characterized by redness, swelling, pain, tenderness, heat and disturbed function. When observing a horse, especially one in motion, all of these things would seem rather obvious especially if they rise to the level of lameness. Merriam Webster’s definition of lameness is “having an injured leg or foot that makes walking difficult or painful. Even under the most abstract view, “any practice” that would produce these symptoms would seem very simple to detect and would provide an abundance of evidence in order to fully prosecute the wrongdoer.

The Horse Protection Act is rather simple. Enforcement based on the actual Horse Protection Act should be easy. But………….then you have to also consider the applicable federal regulations that accompany the law. The federal regulations are found at 9 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations, Part 11. We’ll address some of the more controversial federal regulations in follow up posts. Like with most things government, they can be rather convoluted, difficult to understand, and easy for the government to use against you.

Having read this short synopsis of the Horse Protection Act, I hope you will agree that the basic premise of the law is good, is easily understood, and are widely accepted by and complied with by Tennessee Walking Horse industry.

I also want you to take a mental note that the Horse Protection Act applies to ALL breeds of horses, not just Tennessee Walking Horse or gaited horses. ALL horses. In a later post, we’ll delve into inspections which should then leave you wondering why the Horse Protection Act isn’t applied to ALL breeds of horses who are afforded protection under this federal law.