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Animal Wellness Action thanks Sewell for voting to protect Alabama Racking Horses

Office of Rep. Terri Sewell

Wednesday, the Animal Wellness Action applauded U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Selma, for voting for legislation to protect Iconic Alabama State Racking Horses.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, HR693, by a vote of 333 to 96. Congresswoman Sewell voted in support of the bill.

“We applaud Rep. Sewell for her terrific work to help end the practice of soring that has marred the show horse world and the Great State of Alabama for six decades,” said Animal Wellness Action executive director Marty Irby.

Irby is a native Alabamian and a former world grand champion Alabama Racking Horse.

The PAST Act strengthens the Horse Protection Act and is intended to end the torturous, painful practice of soring Alabama Racking, Tennessee Walking, and Spotted Saddle Horses. Soring, is the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ front limbs by applying caustic chemicals such as mustard oil or kerosene or inserting sharp objects into the horses’ hooves to create an exaggerated gait known as the “Big Lick.”

Soring is used to make a naturally gaited horse have an even more exaggerated gait. Horse owners wins ribbons and trophies at gaited horse shows for the horses with the most desirable gait.

Soring has plagued the equine world for six decades. In April of 2019, Animal Wellness Action exposed an alleged soring incident in Alabama surrounding Joseph Abernathy. Abernath has been under the watchful eye of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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The Alabama Racking Horse was recognized as a distinct breed by the USDA in 1971. It is known for a distinctive single-foot gait. The Racking Horse Breeders’ Association of America is headquartered in Decatur to maintain the breed registry. Its goal is to preserve the breed in a natural state.

The PAST Act seeks to eliminate the artificial devices currently used in Racking Horse shows such as the World Celebration held in Priceville in September to artificially enhance the gait of gaited breeds like the Alabama Racking Horse.

S. 1007 is the Senate companion bill led by Senator Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, that mirrors the House passed legislation.

“Timing is ripe, and the majority of Americans want to see Congress work to protect these iconic American horses upon whose backs our country was built upon,” said Animal Wellness Advocate Priscilla Presley. “U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should swiftly schedule a vote on the PAST Act, and execute the will of the American people, and I call on him to do so!”

Neither U.S. Senators Doug Jones (D), nor Richard Shelby (R) have cosponsored S. 1007, which has 43 co-sponsors.

“The bottom line is you are either for animal cruelty, or you are against it,” said Congressman Ted Yoho (R-Florida), the lead Republican sponsor of the House PAST Act.

The group chastised Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, for voting against the PAST Act after co-sponsoring the bill in past years. Reps. Bradley Byrne, Robert Aderholt, Mo Brooks, Mike Rogers, and Gary Palmer all also voted against the PAST Act.

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Irby praised Sewell for her vote, but expressed disappointment in the rest of the House delegation from Alabama.

“I am disappointed that the rest of the Alabama delegation, including my hometown Representative, Bradley Byrne, chose to side with animal abusers and call on Senators Jones and Shelby to join in cosponsoring S. 1007 in the Senate,” Irby concluded.

The PAST Act would ban the use of using large stacked shoes and ankle chains. It would also eliminate the existing system of self-regulation by the industry and impose toughen penalties for violators of the Horse Protection Act.

The PAST Act is supported by Animal Wellness Action, the American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, United States Equestrian Federation, National Sheriff’s Association, and the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association.

According to Animal Wellness Action, the PAST Act has been blocked for years by a handful of well-placed lawmakers, but a new House rule triggering consideration of any measure that attracts 290 or more cosponsors brought the issue to the floor. The PAST attracted 308 cosponsors and was led by Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon and Ted Yoho (R), the cochairs of the Congressional Veterinary Medicine Caucus, along with Reps. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, Ron Estes, R-Kansas, Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, and Chris Collins, R-New York. The Senate companion has garnered 43 cosponsors.

Animal Wellness Action (Action) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. The group says that they champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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