Number of soring violations at horse competition nearly double those found in 2013

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SHELBYVILLE, Tennessee — A federal Department of Agriculture report shows there were almost double the number of soring violations at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration competition this year compared to 2013.

The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/1lY53PX) reports monitors found 219 violations of the Horse Protection Act during the competition, which was held over 11 days in Shelbyville. That's compared to 110 violations noted last year.

Animal advocates say the numbers show that there is still a problem with soring, which occurs when a horse's legs are intentionally injured to make the animal have a higher gait.

"All these years the industry has said they've solved the problem, yet soring is still rampant," said Keith Dane, vice president for equine protection for the Humane Society of the United States.

Celebration CEO Mike Inman says rules were enforced differently this year, leading to a higher number of incidents.

"We've had the same horses and the same inspectors for years," Inman said. "The only thing that's changed is the interpretation."

He said using fewer subjective ways to monitor horses would lead to inspection results that are more consistent.

Officials with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said inspection procedures weren't altered. Department spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said inspectors were using more advanced technology, such as thermal imaging, to identify sored horses.

"Soring practices are always evolving and require APHIS to incorporate state of the art technology to capture soring techniques that may not be visible to the naked eye," Espinosa said in an email.


Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com

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