Dear Editor,

For over 400 years, horses have been a quintessential part of Virginia’s culture and history. And while, in large part, Virginia’s horses are properly cared for, sadly some people abuse these animals through a practice known as “horse soring.” I want to let you know that I take your past efforts to raise awareness about animal cruelty seriously, and I want to take a moment to let you know what I am doing to end this practice.

On April 3, I re-introduced legislation called the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act to end this horrendous practice. The people who engage in horse soring apply blistering or burning agents, lacerations, sharp objects, or other substances or devices to the legs and hooves of gaited show horses. Each step the horse then takes becomes excruciatingly painful, resulting in a high-stepping gait that is rewarded in show rings – yet torturous in every step the animal takes.

Owners and breeders in Virginia agree: the intentional act of inflicting pain on horses is just plain wrong and should not be allowed in modern equestrian competition. The PAST Act has been endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Horse Council, U.S. Equestrian Federation, National Sheriffs’ Association, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and veterinary medical associations in all 50 states.

I was optimistic that regulation proposed by the Obama administration banning horse soring would put a stop to this type of horse abuse immediately. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has since reversed this position, and as of today, this barbaric form of animal abuse continues to take place.

We can make the Commonwealth and the country a safe place for these horses who have been a part of our history since the settling of Jamestown. The legislation I re-introduced today will give the federal government the tools it needs to protect animals, while also supporting an industry of trainers who treat horses humanely.

U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)

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