A concern among walking horse enthusiasts is how the PAST Act will affect their tradition and industry. "I think the issue
really is—no one will really say they want soring and I think those on the panel are sincere in that—can the big lick gait
be achieved without soring? Some would argue it can't," DeHaven says.
Osborne says it can be achieved without soring because he believes 98 percent of trainers do not sore horses. However, he
says beyond the elimination of pads and action devices, the elimination of weighted shoes that aren't protective or therapeutic
in nature, as required by the PAST Act, is severely detrimental to trainers. "This would not only devastate the walking horse
industry, if this was applied to all breeds, it would devastate every single competitive breed," Osborne says.
DeHaven says trainers are just going to have to adapt. "This 10 percent of the individuals that are relying on action devices
and pads, they're going to have to find out a new way of doing things," he says. "Not try to get this artificial gait you
only get by soring a horse, but emphasize the natural gait the horse has anyway."
Osborne says the PAST Act is not about the elimination of soring; it is about the agenda of the Humane Society of the United
States to eliminate the competitive Tennessee walking horse, which he and others claim will injure the economy of states like
Tennessee and Kentucky. "The industry would lose over 20,000 jobs, $3.2 billion in economic impact and over $1.3 billion in
the value of competitive horses," Osborne says.
DeHaven says he doesn't buy the argument that this legislation would destroy the economy of central Tennessee or other areas
where walking horses are common. "[It will impact] trainers who rely on soring. I'm not so concerned about what happens to
them economically," he says.
For him, the issue is clear-cut. "The industry is not capable of self-regulating or even minimizing the frequency of soring;
therefore the legislation is necessary," he says.
In the meantime, DeHaven hopes USDA will publicly support the PAST Act and follow through with decertifying noncompliant HIOs.