Written by Diana Williams Anshakov.

How to talk to our congress people to get them on board with passing the Past Act. “Just the facts, mam.”

-The “big lick” and soring negatively impact the ENTIRE multi-BILLION-dollar U.S. equine industry, and as such, is strongly endorsed by the American Horse Council (the governing body of the US equine industry), the United States Equestrian Federation (the largest horse show organization in the nation), the American Quarter Horse Association (the largest breed registry in the world), and many, many other breed registries and horse industry organizations. AHC president Jay Hickey has said of the bill, “The magnitude of support for this bill is clear, but to advance it still needs to be brought to a vote. Ending soring is important for the welfare of Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses, and Racking Horses. But, it is also important for the economic health of the horse industry because, while soring happens only in a small segment of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Spotted Saddle Horse, and Racking Horse industry, such abuse damages the image of the entire horse industry.” (Source: http://www.illinoishorsenetwork.com/aug-paper-e.pdf ) -The 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games generated over $200M to the Kentucky economy alone. (Source: http://www.kentuckytourism.com/!userfiles/Industry/research/WEG%20Economic%20Impact%20Report.pdf ). Huge additional revenues were injected into the nationwide economy via airlines, horse transport companies and quarantine/boarding stables, hotels, restaurants, horse equipment suppliers, etc. The FEI hesitated for years to bring the Games to the U.S., partly due to the negative image the American equine industry has gained worldwide due to the continued practice of soring and allowing stacks and chains on show horses – which is banned in Europe. To gain FEI approval, the Kentucky Horse Park banned “big lick” Walking Horses from breed exhibitions at the Park during the games. -Overseas horse breeders have lost business due to the stigma of soring, and as a result, have reduced the number of horses of this PURELY AMERICAN BREED they are importing from the US for breeding stock. -The TWH is one of only a handful of truly AMERICAN breeds. We need to be good stewards of a horse that represents the United States. Passage of the PAST Act will ensure the breed can continue to grow on a GLOBAL scale. Right now, overseas breeders still have to export breeding stock from the US. If we do not ensure the soundness of the breed, that revenue will cease. -Implementation of the PAST Act will not cost taxpayers, and in time, is likely to reduce the costs that the USDA is currently spending for enforcement of the HPA. (Approx. $700M annually. Source: http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45339 ) -Passage of the PAST Act will simplify the inspection process and reduce the burden on the USDA to provide spot inspections on the industry, contributing to additional efficiency of a government agency. -Walking Horse owners are charged higher rates for equine insurance due to the disproportionate rate of illness, injury and death in the “big lick” segment of the breed. This is PURELY due to the impact of soring and the “big lick,” as flat-shod walking horses are known to be generally free of congenital defects, healthy compared to other breeds, and frequently experience a longer lifespan than many other breeds. -Many potential buyers of Walking Horses are turned away by the negative stigma of soring and the marketplace flooding by mentally and/or physically scarred big lick culls, depressing values of horses and negatively impacting the livelihoods of breeders of sound horses. -Participation in Walking Horse shows has decreased due to the stigma of soring. Exhibitors have left the arena, taking their entry fees, travel, lodging and dining expenses, and tourism dollars with them. The PAST Act will bolster participation in shows, generating revenue for many businesses in areas hosting Walking Horse shows. -With the stigma of the “big lick” gone, Walking Horse ownership will increase, generating jobs for ethical breeders, trainers and farriers. -Opponents argue that the bill will eliminate the industry. It will only eliminate the segment of the industry that survives by violating Federal laws. -Opponents also argue that it violates their freedom. This is true only inasmuch as dog fighters’ freedom has been violated by laws prohibiting dog fighting. The ramifications of soring have actually stripped sound horse owners and exhibitors of their rights, being forced through inspections, additional fees, reduced competition and more, all caused by soring and efforts to hide soring by criminals. Additionally, sound horse advocates have been threatened, harassed, caused bodily harm, and had their livelihoods destroyed by these abusive law-breakers.