Tennessee Walking Horses: More setbacks

The new administration came in at just wrong the time for the long suffering horses, subject to a variety of cruel techniques used to achieve the ‘Big Lick’ goose step of the Tennessee Walking Horse. The 47 year old legislation currently in place does little to protect those horses who undergo the use of kerosene (amongst other techniques) which applied to their hooves, causes constant pain causing them to lift high their damaged legs. Chains and weighted shoes are also illegally used to achieve this effect, so popular amongst the crowds and judges at walking shows, giving them a competitive edge.


What exactly is ‘soring’?

Soring is defined by the HPA in four ways :

  1.  An irritating or blistering agent has been applied, internally or externally, by a person to any limb of a horse
  2.  Any burn, cut, or laceration has been inflicted by a person on any limb of a horse,
  3.  Any tack, nail, screw, or chemical agent has been injected by a person into or used by a person on any limb of a horse, or
  4. Any other substance or device has been used by a person on any limb of a horse or a person has engaged in a practice involving a horse, and, as a result of such application, infliction, injection, use, or practice, such horse suffers, or can reasonably be expected to suffer, physical pain or distress, inflammation, or lameness when walking.


The new regulations introduced on 13th January 2017 are designed to better enable enforcement with the 1970 Horse Protection Act, however, along with a number of other proposals left over along from the Obama Administration, this has now been put on hold. Whether this is merely a delay or a permanent move remains to be seen.

Those of you in the outside of the USA may may not be aware of this barbarous practice nor seen the damage it does you will not be aware of how important this legislation is.

Until now the legislation has meant that the industry is self regulating relying in members of the horse community to behave decently and humanely. While there are Tennessee Walking horses whose natural sure footedness and comfortable gait have been developed through time consuming training clearly there are still vast numbers where this is achieved by making it painful for them to put their feet to the floor.


Methods of soring

  1. Filing: Filing away the hoof until it bleeds
  2. Burning: Applying caustic substances to the pastern, bulb of the heel and coronary band, causing burns and blistering
  3. Chains: Affixing excessively weighted chains to the front pastern
  4. Tacks: Inserting tacks under the shoe into the quick of the hoof
  5. Pads & Wedges


This causes so much pain in the horses front legs that they snatch them quickly from the floor keeping them high, away from the pain, the back legs are brought forward under the horses body in an attempt to relieve the weight from the painful front hooves, known as the ‘praying mantis’.

It’s unbelievable that this still goes on since it was made illegal nearly half a century ago and that so many horses still have to suffer. The practice is particularly common throughout the states of Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee, Alabama & the Carolinas. These Republican states have provided a deal of support for President Trump, which could influence the government’s decision in either signing off on, or returning the previous administration’s progress amendment to the act which received enormous bipartisan congressional backing for further review.

Trainers opposing soring have formed and joined the National Walking Horse Association (NWHA) and Friend’s of Sound Horses (FOSH) in an attempt to protect the abused horses in an united front.

President Trump has had his support, now it is the turn of the Tennessee Walking horses to have yours. If you would like to sign a petition to show your support please follow this link here.


Soring is not good for horses

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What’s your view on this practice – should it be banned immediately or is it part of our horse heritage? Let us know in the comment section 

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