After reading the petition in full, I completely agree with every word in it. After extensive research and experience with this matter, I believe the best course of action that the USDA can take is to eliminate the tools that are used to sore horses, as detailed in the petition. The HIOs FOSH and NWHA have been able to eliminate soring from the show ring by banning these devices. If the HPA could be amended to mirror this ban, then we could see a true end to this abuse.
I am sure you will receive many comments that say that it's only a few people who are doing this or only a few horses that are being found with scars. The real problem is that we are dealing with an ingrained mentality that truly believes there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. They try to distract us by pointing their fingers at other breed associations' issues, and they continue to rely on data (such as 98% compliance) that is not accurate. It is also socially acceptable and even fun to consistently thwart the USDA. Most recently, we have seen the development of the Unified Horse Show Development Program who have said they will help only those HIOs that have refused to accept the mandatory penalty structure. Therefore, they are providing aid to those who continue to break the law and are in effect encouraging it.
Overall, this attitude allows soring to continue. We need to see serious punishment for this crime, and we need to see the violators go to jail and have to post bail in order to be allowed to be out and still showing horses during any appeal process. We need to see HIOs disqualified, and if they continue to hold shows, be dealt a serious fine for holding horse shows that are found to have sore horses in them. We need you, the APHIS and the USDA, to uphold the law as it is written and stop trying to negotiate with the industry. They have had over 40 years to end soring, which is proof they never will. A decrease in soring isn't okay--one sore horse is one to many.