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X-ray of a hoof showing stacks and nails

The Horse Protection Act of 1970 is a United States federal law, under which the practice of soring is a crime punishable by both civil and criminal penalties. Soring is the practice of applying irritants (including objects such as nails, example pictured) or blistering agents to the front feet or forelegs of a horse, making it pick its feet up higher in an exaggerated manner that creates the "action" desired in the show ring, giving practitioners an unfair advantage over other competitors. The Act makes it illegal to show a horse or enter it at a horse show, to auction, sell, offer for sale, or transport a horse for any of these purposes if it has been sored. It is enforced by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Violations are detected by observation, palpation and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to identify chemicals on horses' legs. Certain training techniques and topical anesthetics can be used to avoid detection by the first two methods. In 2013, an amendment to the Act was proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives to toughen penalties and outlaw "stacks", or layers of pads attached to the front hooves. (Full article...)

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Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle is a castle in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan. Built from 1583 to 1597 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi–Momoyama period. After Toyotomi died in 1598, control of the castle went to his young son, Hideyori, who was deposed by Tokugawa Ieyasu eighteen years later after a series of sieges. In 1868 the castle, still under control of the Tokugawa shogunate, fell to pro-imperial forces. Since then the castle has been rebuilt several times, most recently in the 1990s.

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