Statement on Signing the Horse Protection Act Amendments of 1976.
I HAVE approved S. 811, which provides amendments to the Horse Protection Act of 1970. This act is intended to ban the clearly inhumane practice of intentionally injuring the limbs and hoofs of horses in order to induce the high-stepping gait looked for in certain horse show events.
The amendments contained in S. 811 strengthen the act in some respects. Unfortunately, however, the approach that the Congress continues to take to eradicate this heinous practice fails to comprehend the real problem.
The practice exists, quite simply, because its perpetrators can make a profit in the horse show circuit by short-cutting the careful breeding and patient training techniques which are normally required to produce high quality show prospects. Until the management of public horse shows and sales assumes-- or is forced by law to assume--the responsibility of ensuring that these cruelties are not being practiced upon those horses taking part in their sponsored events, real reform will be assured.
The Department of Agriculture urged the Congress to place the onus on the industry where it belongs, rather than upon Federal regulators. The proposal would have required that the management of every show put in place an inspection system--using independent, qualified inspectors--under penalty of law. The Department could then monitor the industry to ensure that the system operated properly. However, the Congress--in a mistaken belief that the addition of more Federal enforcement officials will solve the problem--has ignored the real problem and simply authorized more money and stiffened penalties.
I continue to be committed to achieving meaningful reform by compelling this industry to police itself properly. To that end I pledge cooperation with the Congress in seeking continued improvements in the law which will place the primary responsibility for enforcement with the industry itself.
Note: As enacted, S. 811, approved July 13, 1976, is Public Law 94-360 (90 Stat. 915).
Gerald R. Ford, Statement on Signing the Horse Protection Act Amendments of 1976. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/257984