USDA Regulation to Ban Soring & Stacks Temporarily On Hold

Opponents to soring and stacks in Tennessee Walking Horses are in an uproar at the temporary hold on new regulations, including the recent USDA rule that would effectively ban the practice. But history shows there may not be a need to panic — yet.

Tennessee Walking Horse in padded shoes or "stacks." Public domain.

Tennessee Walking Horse in padded shoes or “stacks.” Public domain.

Social media is abuzz with headlines stating that President Trump has blocked the new USDA rule that was announced on January 13, 2017 that would effectively ban horse soring, padded shoes (called “stacks”) and certain other devices. This statement isn’t entirely true, and there is not necessarily a need to panic yet that soring will be allowed to continue under a new administration. We took a look at what really happened in Washington D.C. on Friday.

After Friday’s inauguration, President Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus issued a memo calling for federal agencies to stop issuing regulations. Rules sent to the Office of the Federal Register but not yet published must be withdrawn, and rules published in the last 60 days should be delayed for at least another 60 days. (Regulations directly related to emergency situations or urgent health, safety, financial or national security matters are exempt.) All regulations will be reviewed and approved by the president’s appointed agency heads. This action is common during changes in administration, and many past presidents have done exactly the same thing when taking office.

The final rule changes to the Horse Protection Act were to be published by the Office of the Federal Register on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 with the rule banning the use of action devices and certain lubricants used for soring going into effect on February 24. The minimum 60-day hold will obviously delay that effective date as the new Secretary of Agriculture will need to review and hopefully approve the regulation. The pick for Secretary of Agriculture is Sonny Perdue, former governor of Georgia, and has not yet been confirmed.

It remains to be seen whether the incoming Secretary of Agriculture will approve the regulation, but it’s important to remember that the rule is only temporarily on hold — it’s not been blocked, thrown out or otherwise removed from consideration. We will continue to monitor developments.

In the meantime, we encourage anyone who is opposed to to soring and stacks to continue to lend their voice to the fight — contact the new administration and make it known that you support the banning of stacks and soring.

[Trump White House tells agencies to halt regulations]

Editor’s note: comments are welcome, but inflammatory political commentary will not be tolerated.

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