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House bill honoring late Maryland Sen. Joseph Tydings aims to curb abusive soring of horses

Former Maryland Senator Joseph Tydings is pictured in 2008 in his office at the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro.
Former Maryland Senator Joseph Tydings is pictured in 2008 in his office at the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Lawmakers in Washington have introduced a bill to honor the late Maryland Senator Joseph Tydings.

The U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act would close certain loopholes that have allowed an abusive practice known as soring.

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Tydings, a horse lover who died in October, spent much of his life opposing the practice, which harms horses’ front limbs to create an exaggerated gait. The Democrat introduced 1970’s Horse Protection Act into the Senate to combat it.

U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, an Oregon Democrat and a co-sponsor of the House bill, said soring still “runs rampant” despite the law. “It’s time for Congress to act and put an end to this abusive practice.”

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Joseph Davies Tydings, the last Harford County resident to serve in the United States Senate, a confidante of John and Robert Kennedy and a lifelong independent voice for progressive Democrats, died Monday from cancer in Washington, D.C. He was 90.

Other sponsors of the bill, previously introduced in 2013, include Ted Yoho, a Florida Republican; Steve Cohen,  a Tennessee Democrat; Ron Estes, a Kansas Republican; Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat;  and Chris Collins, a New York Republican.

Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action said in a statement, “It’s long past time to end the rampant abusive practice of soring that I’ve personally witnessed since childhood, and Congress should swiftly bring this measure to a vote.”

Irby, who grew up in the walking horse industry and was a champion rider, said his family disowned him when he came out against soring later in life.

“Sen. Tydings became my friend then,” Irby said. “He helped me through that rough time and was just such a godsend to me.”

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U.S. Senators Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, and Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat,  plan to introduce a companion bill, according to Irby.

Joseph D. Tydings, a Maryland lawyer and “Kennedy man” who followed his adoptive father’s footsteps into the U.S. Senate, died Monday of cancer in Washington surrounded by family. He was 90.
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