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Horse Protection Act

The Horse Protection Act (HPA) was passed in 1970 to prohibit the showing, sale, auction, exhibition, or transport of sored horses. "Soring" is defined as the application of any chemical (e.g., mustard oil or diesel fuel), mechanical agent (e.g., overweight chains), or practice (e.g., trimming a hoof to expose the sensitive tissue) inflicted upon any limb of a horse, that can cause or be expected to cause the horse to suffer physical pain or distress when moving. Trainers use soring to give horses a highly animated gait in a short time period rather than spending time training them to have this gait naturally. 


Current Law and Regulations

  • Horse Protection Act - Current statute passed by U.S. Congress and incorporated into the United States Code begins at at 15 U.S.C. 1822. The statute gives USDA authority to make regulations to implement and enforce the law by issuing regulations.
  • Horse Protection Regulations (Part 11) - The Code of Federal Regulations starting at 9 C.F.R. Part 11 provides detailed guidance, standards, and rules drafted and adopted by the USDA to implement and enforce the Horse Protection Act.
  • Rules of Practice Governing Proceedings under the Horse Protection Act (Part 12) - The Code of Federal Regulations at 9 C.F.R. Part 12 provides the rules governing the administrative proceedings for violations of the  Horse Protection Act.

Detecting Soreness in Horses

A Review of Methods for Detecting Soreness in Horses (2021) 

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 

Several methods and technologies can be used to detect pain and soreness in horses and help enforce the HPA. Download the book for free at this site. 

The HPA in the Literature

The resources below show materials available from two U.S. libraries. Learn about the history and modifications of the HPA through books, periodicals, legislation, and other materials. You can also view recent legislation and informational materials published by USDA, APHIS. If you have any questions about accessing materials from the National Agricultural Library, contact us

Resources from USDA APHIS

Overview: Horse Protection Act

USDA, APHIS shares inspection and enforcement information as well as annual Horse Protection Program Reports. 

Horse Protection Act Fact Sheet

The HPA has 2 goals: eliminate the inhumane practice of soring and promote fair competition. 

Questions and Answers from USDA APHIS

APHIS answers frequent questions about the responsibilities of various stakeholders to uphold the HPA

Responsibilities of Management of Horse Shows, Exhibitions, Sales, and Auctions [pdf, 3 pages]

Responsibilities of Horse Exhibitors and Transporters [pdf, 5 pages]

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