Will Soring in Horse Sports Finally Be Eliminated?


Hey there, partner. This is The Oxer by Pegasus. The newsletter that takes you out of your tack room and into the global equestrian industry.

🐴 Here’s what we’ve got for you today:

  • Soring could finally be a thing of the past: In America, thanks to the USDA.

  • Will British boarding barn owners get what they wish for?: Regulation is their wish.

  • What the future equestrian facility will look like: Andrea Knowles, founder of Equine Residences, on The Pegasus Podcast.

  • How to get a front-row seat to your regional equestrian industry: Hear the latest episode on The Pegasus Podcast with Shawna Mills, admin of the Facebook group Southern New Hampshire Equestrians.

  • Final Foals: Check them out after the second story of this edition.

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Get ready for some great stories this week 👇

🇺🇸 The USDA Is Trying to Eliminate Soring in America

What happened?

  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing changes to the Horse Protection Act (HPA) to strengthen requirements and eliminate soring.

  • Soring is the practice of deliberately inflicting pain on horses to exaggerate their leg motion.

Our jump on the subject

Soring is the cruel practice of deliberately inflicting pain on a horse’s legs or hooves to force it to perform an unnatural, exaggerated gait.

This is done by applying caustic chemicals, such as mustard oil, diesel fuel, or kerosene, to the horse’s limbs, causing severe pain and suffering.

An even more egregious form of soring, called pressure shoeing, cuts a horse’s hoof almost to the quick and then tightly nailing on a shoe.

This, or forcing the horse to stand for hours with its hooves on a block or other raised object, causes excruciating pain whenever the horse puts weight on its hooves.



In order to eliminate soring as much as possible, the USDA is proposing the following changes to the Horse Protection Act:

  • Establish qualifying criteria for inspectors and processes for denying applications.

  • Allow event management to appoint a USDA representative to conduct inspections.

  • Prohibit any device, method, practice, or substance that could mask evidence of soring, all action devices, nontherapeutic pads and wedges, and substances applied above the hoof.

  • Amend record keeping and reporting requirements to increase oversight and prevent previously disqualified individuals from participating in events.

As indicated above, soring occurs in certain horse sports.

Two horse sports that are infamous for soring practices are rodeo and Tennessee Walking Horse shows.



The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) both support the proposed changes, but have concerns about some details.

The AVMA and AAEP condemn the practice of soring and support a ban on the use of action devices and performance packages for Tennessee Walking Horses.

The USDA previously announced proposed changes to the HPA in 2016, but the final rule was withdrawn from public inspection.

In 2021, the USDA announced it was withdrawing a proposed regulation on detecting soring in certain performance horses.

The USDA is now submitting a revised proposed rule to strengthen regulations and modernize its approach to the issue of horse soring.

🇬🇧 British Boarding Barn Owners Want More Regulation

What happened?

  • A recent survey in Britain found that more than half of livery yard owners support licensing for livery yards.

  • Livery yards are how the British call boarding barns.

  • Owners want this because they believe it would encourage more responsible barn ownership and raise standards in the industry.

Our jump on the subject

Respondents to the survey said that licensing should be all-encompassing for all types of boarding barns, regardless of the type of boarding packages offered.

They also said that the basis of licensing should be equine welfare, competence in running a professional establishment, and stability and support for yard owners.

Some boarding barn owners are concerned about the additional costs and paperwork that licensing would entail.

However, SEIB, a leading equestrian insurer in Britain, said that any licensing system would need to be both practical and reasonable for business owners.

Cheryl Johns, founder of LiveryList Yard Owner Hub, said that licensing would help level the playing field for the industry and educate horse owners to find the most suitable establishments for their horses.

She also said that licensing is long overdue, as too many boarding barn owners do not meet basic industry standards for equine care and customer service.

The survey also found that:

  • With such a wide variant of boarding barn types available, almost 75% of the respondents believe that the licensing should be all-encompassing for all types of long and short-term equine accommodation regardless of the type of packages that are offered.

  • The basis of licensing must come from an understanding of the industry and its needs, as well as providing stability and support to the barn owners.

  • Overall, the 420 barn owners who responded would like to see considerations for minimum welfare standards, minimum insurance requirements, and health and safety high on the agenda as criteria for licensing, as well as potential minimum qualifications of experience.

🐴  This Week’s Final Foals

🤖 These images were made by AI. Crazy, right?

🎓 Why are equestrian companies not recruiting kids from college?

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