Helping horses: Take action now to support the USDA’s efforts to end soring


Take action now to support the USDA’s proposed rule and tell them not to extend the comment period. 

“CQ” was the horse of a lifetime, a gentle soul. The one horse that leaves his mark on you forever. The one you think of every day, even years after his death.

He was a Tennessee Walking Horse and he had the battle scars from soring, a cruel and inhumane practice performed to exaggerate a horse’s gait. His pasterns were scarred, the hair on his cannons was permanently curled and thick from irritation, and it was a regular struggle to control his chronic laminitis and the recurrent hoof abscesses it caused. He’d been trained to hide his pain, making it harder to recognize and treat his problems. I didn’t know anything about his show history, but he’d obviously outlived his usefulness to the ones who’d sored him or he wouldn’t have been passed through a succession of owners until he found his forever home with me.

Why had this been done to him? For no reason other than so he’d win ribbons in the show ring.

For more than 40 years, soring has been illegal. Yet it continues, largely because the industry itself has been allowed to be its own watchdog and has continually developed new ways to evade detection of these cruel practices. Recent legislative attempts, such as the PAST Act (H.R. 3268/ S. 1121), have been stalled repeatedly by political pressures placed by the “Big Lick” industry on members of Congress.

The AVMA has advocated for the PAST Act, but has also been in communication with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) to urge regulatory changes to once and for all eliminate soring. We’re pleased that USDA recently announced the proposed changes to the Horse Protection Act. The proposed rule makes two significant changes:

  • USDA-APHIS would assume the responsibility for training, screening and licensing horse inspectors, instead of inspectors selected by the industry. The USDA inspectors would be veterinarians and veterinary technicians who would be required to follow APHIS rules and standards of conduct, and not beholden to the industry.
  • It would ban the use of all action devices, pad and foreign substances at horse shows, exhibitions, sales and auctions.

It’s too late to spare CQ the pain of soring, but it’s not too late to help the next generations of gaited horses to live, train and show free of pain from soring. Please show your support for the horses by commenting in support of the USDA-APHIS proposed rule.

The USDA is being pressured to extend the comment period on the proposed revisions to the Horse Protection Act. This is just a ploy to further delay the process and to allow the cruel practice of soring to continue. Forty years is more than long enough, and the industry has proven time and again that it won’t eliminate soring. It’s time to stop this cruelty: comment in support of the USDA’s proposed changes, and tell them there’s no need for an extension!

168 thoughts on “Helping horses: Take action now to support the USDA’s efforts to end soring

  1. Please end this horrible inhumane practice.its awful these animals feel pain as we do. so to the ppl who are doing this please think twice and have a dangerous heart. And remember of you don’t have a heart, there’s always that wonderful thing we call karma! Be expecting it!

    • I cannot believe the AVMA is telling you not to muddy the water in order to get the rule making done and destroy the Walking Horse Show Industry. I suggest you all stop and look at the way your horses are shod and understand to the USDA that is soring. The USDA has been saying wed are doing it when in fact it is not us. They even X-Ray our horses feet to catch us but after thousands of horses have had their feet X-Rayed and shoes pulled there has never been one performance horse found to be sored in that manner.
      The AVMA has been invited to come and view our current horse but have refused every time so they have no knowledge of the current condition of the Walking Horse.
      Please believe me when I tell you the Saddlebreds, Morgan’s and horses cannot pass the subjective inspections performed by the USDA at the guidance of the h$u$.

  2. As written this is way too vague a set of rules to implement without clarification of rules so that laymen could understand them.
    Because, if you read the entire set of proposed rules, the people doing the inspecting will be people with limited background as the rules, as proposed, require a minimum of two “trained” inspectors per show who are not connected to the equine industry and have no relatives who are.

  3. As written this is way too vague a set of rules to implement without clarification of rules so that laymen could understand them.
    Because, if you read the entire set of proposed rules, the people doing the inspecting will be people with limited background as the rules, as proposed, require a minimum of two “trained” inspectors per show who are not connected to the equine industry and have no relatives who are……

  4. Please stop this!!!! It is so selfish and just because we cannot feel their pain, does not mean that it does not exist and is not a terrible problem. How is this humane? Horses have done so much for us through the years and goes back far in history! Let’s give back to them and treat them like the magnificent animals that they are. Stop this tragic pain.

  5. Horse show and racing industries get to impose or overlook endless cruelty because of the allowance of self-regulation. Clearly it’s not working. Get these changes through.

  6. Dr. Kimberly May, how can you state that Arabians, Morgans, Saddlebreds and Hackneys have nothing to worry about when the phrase “related breeds” is not defined. The phrase concerning practices, methods, and treatments that are expected to make a horse sore is poorly defined also. In whose opinion? To the uneducated observer, some beneficial practices, which are in no way detrimental, harmful, or painful may be considered on the same level as soring. Soring is a horrendous, cruel form of animal abuse, and it’s perpetrators should be held accountable to the greatest extent the law will allow, however, this piece of legislation is poorly worded and ill defined and will cause great damage to many disciplines in the equine industry if passed as is. I am ashamed to be a member of an organization that supports such a poorly drafted piece of legislation.

  7. I worked on the PAST Act while serving as a AVMA Congressional Science & Technology Policy Fellow, and effectively for years on animal welfare issues in WA State and beyond. I’m trying to find a concise definition or listing of drvices or practices that “can reasonably be expected to cause a horse to be sore.” The concern I have heard from accomplished animal welfare advocates who are also involved in showing is that without a definition, the current language is too subjective. It is that subjectivity, lack of clarity, and lack of specifics that many are concerned about.

    • Here’s the language from the regulation:
      Sore when used to describe a horse means:
      (1) An irritating or blistering agent has been applied, internally or externally, to any limb of a horse;
      (2) Any burn, cut, or laceration has been inflicted on any limb of a horse;
      (3) Any tack, nail, screw, or chemical agent has been injected into or used on any limb of a horse; or
      (4) Any other substance or device has been used on any limb of 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, trotting, or otherwise moving, except that such term does not include such an application, infliction, injection, use, or practice in connection with the therapeutic treatment of a horse by or under the supervision of a person licensed to practice veterinary medicine in the State in which such treatment was given.

      • My concern is that this only addresses the show ring, and not the professional training facilities that are doing this to the horse even BEFORE they enter the ring. It also does not address the many different breeds that are subjected to extensions on hooves, long hooves etc such as Arabian park horses, Morgans and others. I am a barefoot trimmer and I’ve seen the result of all these practices on the overall health of the hoof of the horse. I trim some ex park horses that have severe arthritis at 12 years of age from having to work with very long hooves…..within the legal practice but detrimental nonetheless. While this bill is a good start, I don’t think it will even touch the type of people that would do this to a horse. They will continue to train their horses as they always have and then remove them to come to the shows. As for saddlebreds not being involved in any type of behavior such as this, I beg to disagree Kyle. I’m currently fixing a saddlebred that is monumentally messed up from years of showing. His feet are a mess…..not just from laminitis but because he has chronically thin soles, weak heels, and long toe from being worked in long feet…….he has arthritis, digestive and back issues. Any sport that exaggerates the natural movement of the horse to make it more accentuated and alters any part of the horse’s natural movement through excessive length to the feet, ropes, chains or anything else should not be doing business……if you only showed your horse naturally with no alteration to the natural length of his feet and you didn’t work to make him sit down more, move higher than nature intended then you are an exception, not the rule. If you’re telling me that this horse has not been altered in any way, then you think saddlebreds aren’t getting the same treatment as TWH’s

  8. I could speak on this topic for hours. A comment short enough for this forum seems completely inadequate. Suffice to say that confusing Saddlebreds with Walking Horses, and especially confusing the care and professionalism represented and demanded by the both the Saddlebred industry and by the horses themselves, with the horrible abuses that are all too common in the TWH world, is plainly ignorant and sinful. When I was young, I showed my dad a picture of a beautiful Saddlebred in response to his question as to what kind of horse I would like to have. He said “That’s a Tennessee Walker, and you can’t have one of those, because those people are not very good to their horses.” I respected my dad for his ethics and his compassion. But after seeing that incredible motion, I didn’t have an interest in riding something else. I elected to opt out of riding all together. Many years later I was lucky to marry a 4th generation Saddlebred trainer. I spent 16 years working with Saddlebreds. And while I’m no longer married and no longer in the business, I am SO grateful for the opportunity to get to know such a grand group of people as the members of the ASHA. There is NO soring in Saddlebreds. Further, trainers in the Saddlebred world have much higher standards even then that. I have seen trainers face informal consequences because the consensus was that their workouts were generally a few minutes too long. As I look at the proposed legislation, it leaves WAY to many holes in the reasoning and application of the law. This will punish good people in the horse industry, and cause hardship for at least as many horses as it helps. There is a giant figurative hammer that needs to come down on the abusers in the TWH industry and specifically the big lick crowd. But lowering that hammer across the industry on people who not only haven’t done anything wrong, but in fact are doing the RIGHT thing for their horses is short-sighted and wrong, and contrary to pretty much everything that America stands for. I think that we should be every bit this heavy-handed with abusers. But let’s also be grown-ups, and not let our emotions run away with us.

    • I was involved with showing flatshod Walking Horses for years. I saw the abuse of “big lick” horses and even flatshods. I have seen mustard oil or Google applied to front legs and wrapped in plastic wrap to increase the heat of the chemicals. The “Art” of the trainer was to know just how long to leave the wrap on without burning the hair off. During that time, USDA Vets were already inspecting the first three places when they came out. Riders would hide lidocaine spray to use before inspection as well as things such as bit burrs with short tacks to take the horse’s attention off his legs. Yes there are many cruel practices in TW show horses. In respect to pads and bands, have you ever seen half af a horses hoof broken off because of pads. I object to pads and bands on any horses, they are an unatural action device
      in any breed. Anytime there is money involved, extreme measures are used to win, look at the Thoroughbred industry. I do not condone cruel training and showing measures in TW industry, but also not in any built up techniques used on any breed. You cannot pick and choose.

    • We don’t expect human athletes to practice or compete without supportive footwear. Run a mile every day with no shoes? No thank you. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.
      Of course every industry unfortunately has bad apples that take things to the extreme.
      Horses that are more than just someone’s pasture pet, are athletes. The idea of supporting a rule that effects every breed of horse with no exception to have no corrective shoe or padding is absurd. If that’s the case than humans should not wear shoes either because barefoot is better. Regardless of physical deformations and comfort.

      Just as poor shoeing can create issues, so can a bad “barefoot” farrier. That doesn’t make all the good ones villans and there is no one size fits all.

      Just because one horse does better barefoot, doesn’t mean every horse does and it should not be the uneducated public, or non equine veterinary teams and animal rights activists to make this determination for every horse in America.

      Spring is a disgusting practice, bit shoeing and soring are not hand in hand and those that believe they are equal are just as ignorant as those that feel Olympians should train barefoot.

  9. I have trained American Saddlebreds for 49 yrs. This is a trotting breed, with a beautiful natural action. As for pads how many of you would be sound if someone took your tennis shoes or running shoes away,or corrective shoes.walk on a gravel road and see how far you get barefooted. Pads act like a cushion similar to your athletic shoe. For those of you that don’t know the difference in the breeds of horses should educate themselves before judging all show horses as being sore.Perhaps limit the number of pads on the TWH ,but don’t take away all pads.

  10. Please consider that the trotting breeds, American Saddlebred horses and Hackneys included, are no way subjected to these types of practices and we do not condone this type of activity in our line of work. This is a problem that was brought to national attire tun because of the practices of certain waking horse trainers and exhibitors. Please exclude these other breeds from these rule changes.

  11. Please do not mix up your facts or your breeds! No United States Equestrian Federation sanctioned breeds are involved in these issues. We also hold ourselves to very high standards. Why do you find it necessary to accuse trainers, exhibitors, owners, breeders, show officials without history or facts?

  12. I am the own of a Saddlebred harness horse. She trots most of the time. The only time she doesn’t trot is when she walks. She has pads and bands on her shoes, and she has never been sored or hurt in any way by my trainer. The shoes protect her from steipping on something that could hurt her. They also help her when she is in the show ring. She has the most beutiful NATURAL action I have ever seen.

  13. This law needs to be re written!!! Soring does need to end NOW, but not at the expense of the trotting breeds.
    The trotting breeds aka Arabians, hackneys, Morgans and saddlebreds are not sored!!!
    The pads and shoeing that are done on the sored TWH are not even close to what are put on my hackney Pleasure Driving pony. The pads used in trotting breeds protect the foot and help correct angles to make show horses more comfortable. Nothing is ever put in between the pads and sole (except hydrating pacing material) that would cause the sole of the hoof to become sore.
    Walking, racking breeds are sored meaning a caustic substance is out on the leg and a chain is then worn around the leg that hits the sored area causing the horse to put all of his weight onto his hind end, creating an exaggerated walking gait. Furthermore the Pads are then stacked, inches tall to exaggerate the walking gate even more. It is said that the TWH trainers will put objects between the shoe and pad to irritate the front soles of the feet further. Sick practice this soring.
    Walking and Racking breeds get away with it because they don’t have to show a balanced four cornered trot.
    The trotting breeds typically use 1-2 pads only. A lame or clunky looking trot is severely penalized at all horse shows.

    Rewrite the law so that it goes after the people doing the practice. Pads are not harmful to horses unless they are used as only the TWH and Racking big lick trainers do.

  14. I agree with Grace. Let’s not confuse abuse and therapeutic shoeing methods. Of course I condemn soring but do not support banning pads or wedges across the board. Corrective shoeing might possibly be what keeps some horses from ending up at the kill pen.

  15. I can’t figure out why these animal rights/welfare groups want pads of any kind banned. Stacks, okay that I can see, but all pads? If they were really looking out for the best interest of the horse they wouldn’t want that. There are a lot of horses who are lame or extremely uncomfortable without pads. Some can’t grow or maintain a healthy hoof without them. They’re useful when you have a horse who has any type of hoof problem or is recovering from one. I have seen pads on many different breeds of horses, not just “English type” or saddleseat horses. I really hope this doesn’t happen because it could put a lot of these horses who need them through a lot of pain and suffering. I am absolutely 100% against soring horses, but this is not a logical solution for that problem.

  16. Yes, Soring (the use of chemicals) should be stopped. However, Pads are not inherently bad. Many horse breeds, many different disciplines allow pads for numerous reasons. There are horses who need pads therapeutically to maintain a pasture sound life. This ruling will not only affect the walking horse industry, but also the arabians, morgans, saddlebreds, hunters, jumpers, dressage horses, reining horses, quarter horse and the list goes on. This wording “It would ban the use of all action devices, pad and foreign substances at horse shows, exhibitions, sales and auctions,” is dangerous for all aspects of the horse industry. Here is a question, “what exactly is a foreign substance?” Is it a saddle (those aren’t on horses normally), Is it a Bit and Bridle? (those too are not on horses by themselves), Is it a bell boot to prevent a horse from overstepping? The USDA needs to look into peoples training techniques and hearts – that’s where a lot of evil stems. Banning the whole industry from using pads on their horses feet is NOT going to solve the issue or soring – in my opinion it just might make it worse.

  17. I’m more sad that an agency like the USDA, who has trouble regulating food animal safety, is struggling to fully understand the difference in the types of padding and other devices used in the various breeds – this is a blanket ignorant statement such as suggesting that all women’s heels are the same whether they are 1/2 inch or 6 inches. It is even more disturbing that the AVMA supports such a broad stance when they support pads in a variety of other uses. Perhaps these veterinarians should consult their colleagues who own breeds such as Saddlebreds, Arabs or Morgans and ask their professional opinion.

  18. That the inhumane and evil use of pads and soring of so many Tennessee Walking horses continues to this day is barbaric. While the USDA proposed ruling appears to try once and again to stop this inhumane practice, it seems to be poorly written. Use of humane padding of a horse’s hoof continues to provide relief to horses in all disciplines throughout the equine industry. Many horses, my own included, find relief from an injury resulting in uneven leg growth or anatomy issues affecting their way of moving. Horses in many disciplines benefit from the cushioning of a properly fitted padding. Please do not include the breeds that use pads and come under the discipline of USEF in this ruling.

  19. I just have to say leave the saddlebreds out of the so called “soring” practices they are NOT chemically altered in any way or sired at all. We specifically breed for action I wouldgladly show a pic of my weanling that has ALOT of action and it came from breeding correctly. Please DO not Mix OUR SADDLEBREDS WITH THIS THEORY. And as far as pads. We do NOT use anything close to stacks like walkers get are pads are designed to protect and absorb the shock from trotting hard.

  20. I fully agree that soring is an awful practice, but… Yes, there is a but. Can we keep these regulations where they belong? Saddlebreds and Arabs will be effected with this new sweeping proposed rule. These breeds are NEVER sored and will never be. They are trotting breeds and as such will not show well if sored. They do what they are born to do and the treatment being protested here is NOT a part of what they do.

  21. There is a good reason this has been illegal for 40 yrs! It is logical to think after 40 years that this illegal practice would have died out, but it hasn’t! So now, rather than continue to do what has failed for another 40 years, give the enforcement of this law to those who will ensure that no other horse endures this cruel practice!

    • Pads keep many horses from going lame. All horses that wear pads as part of their shoeing regimen are NOT sored. In fact, the opposite is true. Just ask the farrier industry. While I’m not denying abuses in the horse business (there is in EVERY business), I believe it’s a big mistake to assume or allege that ALL horses wearing pads, action devices, etc. are sored. They are NOT. Furthermore, the USEF already has legal safeguards in place to protect horses that are in the hands of abusive trainers. One “bad apple” does not ruin the entire bushel, folks. I’m a multi-breed, multi-disciplinary owner who has owned everything from an Oldenburg warmblood to American Saddlebreds and everything in between, showing dressage and western, as well as saddleseat and Hackney driving ponies. Two years ago, I hired a podiatrist from Rood and Riddle in Kentucky to make special casts for my American Saddlebred that had foundered post-colic surgery. We spent over $25,000. out of pocket trying to save his life. Please try not lumping “all” breed owners together. Furthermore, show horses that TROT cannot do so with a true two-beat gait if sored! Therefore, kindly consider excluding trotting breeds from the pad ban. Please be educated before you make this ban a unilateral law, lest you unwittingly “sore” a major component of the horse industry—the consumer. Thank you.

  22. It has been to long, Big Lick must stop! Save this wonderful breed! I have owned since 1978 as a professional international trainer, exhibitor, and clinician of naturally gaited horses without gimmicks! The big lick agenda has done so much harm to our community, livelihood and to many horses have died due to it. Not one more life should pay for human deficiencies!
    Elizabeth Graves

  23. Just finished watching Heartland a show about horse’s. They showed about this practice and how cruel and inhumane this practice is. Please for all horse lover’s no matter what the preferences to breeds are if your hurting your horse’s you should be horse whipped and banned from ever owning one and most important put in jail.

  24. I can not believe in this day and age that people can still abuse animals. Which is what soring is doing- abusing!!! I wish that the people doing that to animals had it done to them so that they could see what it feels like! They are just helpless animals. All they want is love, food and shelter. They didn’t ask to be abused. Senseless!!!

  25. Soring needs to stop now! I support the AVMA, the Walking Horse is a wonderful, forgiving, honest horse that deserves better than torture to create an artificial gait.

  26. Appalling that the practice of soring and action devices continues to go on. I hear pushback that legislation will cost people jobs, money, their livelihood—how about the competition reverts to who has the best horse WITHOUT all that nonsense and everyone keeps their job without selling their soul? It’s common sense, and just use of good language, to draft legislation that prevents the barbaric practices in the TWH industry without also preventing therapeutic or preventative use of pads in other breeds. No shoes and pad combinations over 12 ounces per foot and nothing touching the leg above the coronary band with the exception of a smooth bell boot weighing not in excess of four ounces, or leg wraps or splint/ankle boots in disciplines where interference or contact with the ground or a jump is likely. There. Done. Can we stop pussyfooting around now and JUST GET THIS DONE? No extended comment period. Just do it.

  27. I support the USDA’s proposed rule change to the Horse Protection Act which will abolish the chains, pads and cruel soring methods used to create the artificial inhumane Big-lick gait. Please do NOT extend the comment period.

    • I support the USDA’s rule change to the Horse Protection Act which will abolish the chains, pads and cruel soring methods used to create the arificila inhumane big lick gait.

  28. Please stop using painful devices! My walker has a beautiful smoothe stride with no help from any human and their inhumane devices.

  29. Where does this so called civilized society get the idea that God put animals on this planet to be tortured by humans for financial gain and/or to accommodate the criminally insane??? End the torture of all animals now. NO EXTENSION!

  30. It has been longer than 40 years that humans have been torturing horses feet for the sake of appearance. Victorians used to put drops of acid into the frog of a hoof to get an exaggerated gait. Soring is just a “new” form of this practice. Padded shoes that benefit the health of horses should not be banned, but anything that can be used for soring (or any other form of torture) should be banned immediately. Humans have been using and abusing animals for FAR too long. End the cruelty now!

  31. I own and show Arabian horses and am passionate about their welfare. I am against anything that causes pain for the sake of creating an artificial gait. HOWEVER, the proposed rule against all forms of pads and rolled toes, is too broad and could result in a decline in the well being of some horses. Many of us put thin pads on to protect feet from hard surfaces and put mild heel pads on to help with a club foot. Toes are rolled to reduce pressure on feet and legs. This type of therapeutic shoeing is directed for the comfort of the horse, not to encourage action. Just like a human might put a pad inside their shoes to make them more comfortable. We should be encouraging good protective shoeing, not outlawing it? Clarify or limit the rule to prevent soring without inadvertently harming the very animals we are trying to protect.

    • I agree with you completely. I’ve shod horses for a living for nearly 10 years. I completely disagree with the way some of these horses are treated by owners, trainers, vets and farriers. However taking a lot of these tools away would literally kill some horses. Thin pads, equithane, rolled and rocker toes and shoes have saved many horses. I don’t believe in the way these people are using those devices in this way but I use a large portion of these tools regularly to help a wide variety of lameness. I couldn’t of said it better myself thank you for actually standing up for the horses.

    • Lisa Garrison is 100% on point. The proposed rule is far too broad. If we eliminate pads we will be harming these animals not protecting them.

    • I agree. We need to stop soring and abuse, but without adversely affecting healthy happy horses. My ABS wears pads and has bands. He is perfectly sound, happy and well treated. I have a professional trainer and farrier that I trust to make sure he stays this way. As a responsible owner I keep careful track of what is and is not done to my horse. The proposed rule is too far reaching and I doubt it will stop those who sore horses from doing it. There are laws against animal cruelty and those should be applied to stop soring instead of adding a rule that is too broad and will adversely affect innocent trainers, owners and yes, horses. The rule needs to be re written or not passed at all.

  32. It is past time to stop this practice. What is wrong with people who think this is the way a horse should move. END THIS NOW!!!!!!

  33. Why is such an unnatural gait and behavior in horses being promoted? It’s one thing for humans to push themselves to do extreme sports or unnatural feats and put their own bodies through pain – they have the power of choice. Horses and other animals don’t have that choice. There is plenty about horsemanship to be admired, why can’t we concentrate on more natural gaits and the partnership between man and horse without subjecting these beautiful and sensitive animals to such pain and torture? These people should be ashamed! This needs to stop NOW!

  34. Please I implore you – no more delays re: the horse soring issues! Haven’t these delays caused enough abuse to these beautiful creatures already? The laws are there they just need to be enforced – only not by the people involved in doing the soring who are seeking a RIBBON for all the pain these animals have to go through. Please end this horrific practice NOW!

  35. I have NEVER heard of “soring” in Horses before and it is sickening to learn what it is. I wish a slow painful death upon anyone whom practices this f#ckup cruelty

  36. No extension! Enough cruelty! Enough breeding Tennessee Walking horses that pace instead of walk! Enough cruelty for the sake of a ribbon in a show ring and an industry that should never have been born Return to your roots and celebrate the naturally gaited Tennessee Walking Horse.

  37. Horses have been suffering the cruel practice of soring for decades! They cannot and should not have to wait any longer to be freed from the cruelty of stacks, chains, and chemicals!

  38. Let’s pursue activities that hold merit, educate ourselves, and work toward the betterment of society w/o causing harm. How about that humans?

  39. Please stop this barbaric practice. Animals shouldn’t be forced to live in pain for any reason but certainly not for the sake of a show ribbon! Despicable!

  40. Veterinarians need to be protecting animals from cruelty not benefiting from it or turning a blind eye to it. If the animals do not have the vets to rely on, who do they have? The veterinarians have been losing trust among the public for a long time and this is one of many reasons why.

  41. Should have always been illegal! Veterinarians should be protecting the animals, not participating in the cruel sports of ignorant people.

    • Sandy, soring has been illegal for more than 40 years, but the industry has exploited loopholes to continue doing it. These regulations are intended to close up the loopholes and give USDA more teeth to enforce the Horse Protection Act. Please make sure you voice your support by clicking on the link and commenting to the USDA. Please also tell them that they don’t need to extend the comment period.

      • I believe that this is killing a fly with a cannon. I have trained, shown and treated world level Saddlebreds and Morgans for the last 2 decades – this does NOT go on at any real level by ANY of the trainers bringing quality horses to the show arena. Furthermore, there are very humane, legitimate uses of both pads and bands that this rule will eliminate and bring more harm than good to the horses who need them. This rule is both unneeded and too broad. Enforce the rules that you have by requiring judging to look for signs of soring the way that they look for tongue ties before you write new rules.

  42. Please put a stop to these torturous, painful procedures to produce unnatural gaits in these sensitive, beautiful animals. Since the industry will not regulate itself, make people who are dedicated to helping and healing these horses become the watchdogs and inspectors.

  43. People who do this practice of soring need to be punished and held accountable. This is cruel to horses, we must advocate for the horses and call these people out.

  44. It’s ridiculous that this is still going on after repeated outcry from the public. Animal abusers should be jailed, not allowed to continue in the name of winning a ribbon. Lawmakers need to act swiftly. Animal abuse is a felony, but these demented abusers continue to get away with it because of lax laws.

  45. If it’s is already illegal then enforce it, law enforcement agencies whose salaries I pay!!!
    There is not excuse for not doing your job or for placating whatever lobby supports this illegal practice

  46. I think any practice of soring should be banned and inspections of each horse at a show should be done to check for any signs of soring . If signs are there, they are disqualified and fined.

  47. Please support the PAST act to end the cruelty to the Tennessee Walkimg Horswa BUT DON’T support the USDA and APHIS proposals to the HPA.

    They are SEPERATE legislations and the USDA is taking comments through Sept 26.

    The USDA and APHIS are proposing legislation that can reach far beyond the Walkimg Horse industry and effect
    Other breeds that don’t practice these methods.

    This legislation has the potential to effect trotting breeds also. It will punish the “good guys” Along with the bad guys.

    Those of us that ride and show Morgans,
    saddlebreds, Arabians, Fresians, draft horses, hackneys, Shetland ponies and more will be horribly effected by this legislation AND WE HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG!

    For decades we have been trying to put as much distance between the walking horses
    And our breeds because we didn’t want to be “tainted by what they do. This legislation can effect us too!

    As stated…DON’T PUNISH SEVERAL GOOD INDUSTRIES to get rid of one bad one.

    On the legislation to get rid of the BAD industry and leave the rest out of it by tightening up the verbiage. The PAST act has tight verbiage, this USDA/APHIS does not.

    • The industry has too many politicians under their influence, and has been able to stall or kill the PAST Act at the 11th hour all too often. Please instead COMMENT on the USDA rules to ask for the clarification you feel is necessary.
      I disagree with you that all of the other show horse industries are clean, though. I’ve seen it. So the question is, how do you propose the rule be changed to still protect horses? Based on what’s happened so far, if we have to rely on our politicians in Congress to protect these horses by approving the PAST Act, soring will continue.

      • Dr May, I can’t imagine what American Saddlebred, Hackney, Morgan or other Trotting Breed stable or show you could have attended and “seen” intentional soring. As a vet, you know better than anyone that the standard by which lameness is measured is the trot, and since all of these breeds trot in every class in every division that they are shown in, and our judging system severely penalized unsound horses, why on earth would we intentionally sore them?? To accuse these breeds of participating in the cruel practice that only the TWH, Racking horse and Spotted Saddlehorse (NOT AMERICAN SADDLEBRED) industries have a history of is unfair, unfounded and untrue. No American Saddlebred trainer or owner has ever, in our breeds 125 year history, been accused or convicted of soring a horse. Shame on you for accusing us of participating in this barbaric activity.

        • Jackie, here’s what I saw on several registered, showing Saddlebred that were presented to the referral hospital for surgical colic when our journeyman farrier removed their shoes: they had very long toes and low heels, yet their soles were pared down so thin that even light thumb pressure applied nearly sent them through the roof. There were thick plastic discs placed near the tip of their frog of each front foot, directly over the tip of the coffin bone, and the sole underneath them was obviously bruised. The discs had been placed between the pad and sole. That’s pressure shoeing. If it had only been one horse, I’d have possibly written it off as a farrier mistake. But it was more than one. I don’t know how these horses were being used other than they were being shown. But they had been pressure shod, and that’s a form of soring. I have not once said that it’s widespread in your breed, but I do think that a blanket statement that it has never been done is untrue. I’m glad to hear that your industry is less tolerant of soring. But it concerns me that you’re being used by those who want soring to continue because they’ve convinced you that the USDA is out to get you as well.

          • Jackie, just one thing I want to add to my reply: no one is lobbying the USDA to put other breeds in their crosshairs. The key here is ending the practice of soring. There is a large – and growing – number of TWH owners who don’t sore their horses and who ride and show them in their natural gaits, and they despise being lumped in with the soring crowd as much as you do. If I gave you the impression that I, or even AVMA, think soring is widespread, or even common, in other breeds, I apologize. I also saw many more Saddlebreds and other gaited horses – including Walkers – that showed no evidence of soring. I don’t let that small number taint the breed for me. The people who are trying to restore the walking horse breeds to their natural state need your help.

          • Dr. May,
            Your comment that the American Saddlebred breed group is less tolerant of soring is an understatement. We are intolerant period. It is clear you have not been exposed to many quality Saddlebreds and their operations. We are also not being used by others to dissuade the USDA from ending soring. We just don’t want the collateral damage the vague wording in the amendment will bring. It is vague, and could be written in a much more pointed way. I think it would be easy to cast stones at all athletic breeds and the practices involved in their maintenance and training. But, we all need to remember that horses need jobs and we must all do our best to protect them in their jobs. Rest assured, in these trotting breeds we do not have a widespread issue of soring and, as evidenced by your commentary, this is very misunderstood by the public and even some who should know better.

  48. Please delay no longer! I support the USDA-APHIS proposed ban. Soring should never have existed, nor should it ever be allowed. Please abolish soring and any other form of abuse. Stop the abuse of innocent, amazing animals! Treat others how you’d like to be treated!!!

  49. Its about time we Fight to end all cruelty to animals,
    This has been going on for too long and for no good reason but an artificial gait.

  50. Get rid of soring and the shoes and the industry will move on to another and probably a more abusive way to get the results they want. This industry needs an entire overhaul and enforcing the legality of these practices is just the beginning. Nothing will change unless the judges and the classes offered at each show are united in this movement. Get rid of the classes where the “big licks” are rewarded. Set new rules and standards for selecting and training judges. If the judges stop rewarding the big stepping, unnatural gaits, interest will fade. I do believe that something needs to change. I am just worried as to what this will mean for the horses once this particular practice is eliminated.

  51. Any practice that inflicts pain under the guise of “training”, or for sport, is barbaric and inhumane. THIS NEEDS TO STOP NOW!

  52. As a veterinarian and TWH owner, I am appalled at the behavior of what really is the minority of TWH owners. My first exposure to a big lick show was at the celebration in 2005, I was shocked at the unnatural gait exhibited. It was nothing like the TWHs that I was familiar with through my hobby of trialing akc pointing dogs. These horses can be beautiful to show with their natural gait. Please let common sense prevail and eliminate the system that rewards the inhumane treatment of these beautiful horses.

  53. The fox is guarding the chicken house when the “inspectors” are selected by the industry. Enforce the law with the USDA-APHIS inspectors. This cruel treatment of horses must stop! Cruelty to animals typically leads to cruelty to humans–I wonder how these “trainers” treat their spouses, children and other people.

  54. WHAT DOES IT PROFIT A MAN TO GAIN THE WHOLE WORLD, BUT LOSE HIS OWN SOUL ??? Cruelty & abuse in any form is WRONG !!! You may win ribbons & money by abusing horses, BUT God is watching, & you ain’t seen or felt anything like God’s wrath. You need to change your ways asap & ask forgiveness from God. If you don’t change your ways, I pray for your soul, for what you will experience won’t be pretty.

  55. This practice of soring horses has endured too long. It is obviously cruel since it involves injury to the animal. It has been considered harmful by vets since I graduated from vet school at UC Davis in 1991. Enough already. Let humane practices trump political lobbying for a positive change.

  56. I can’t imagine being in the shoes of those horses so to speak. If a person wouldn’t want to be treated that way, why should an animal? I don’t know the answer for how to abolish abuse completely, but I definitely support trying to stop or at least decrease soring.

  57. As an animal lover and vet tech, I really NEED to see this heinous practice stopped. Humans must stop this behaviour of modifying nature for our own ideals. Can’t we celebrate the natural beauty and gait of these horses?

  58. As an AVCA-certified veterinarian in veterinary spinal manipulation, I have worked on several TWH that have suffered from soring, as well as other cruel practices to exaggerate their gait. Not only does it cause pain and chronic injury to their legs, but they usually show signs of severe, chronic back pain. Stop soring now for the horse and increase enforcement of any trainer/owner who allows it to occur.

  59. I grew up showing TWH and working in training barns. It’s the sort of thing you can’t believe without seeing for yourself. I’ve seen the industry from both sides and they’ve proven that they’re unable (or unwilling) to regulate themselves. USDA needs to take a strong stand here.

  60. I fully support the new USDA-APHIS proposal. Soring and action devices are unnecessary, unnatural, and cause significant discomfort and pain to the horses. I have owned Tennessee Walkers for years; their gait is beautiful and comfortable naturally. The TWHBEA and the “big lick” shows have ruined the breed and its reputation. The spring and action devices need to stop now.

  61. I am in full support of ending all and any cruel acts to animals, especially soring. Humans rule the world and should be the protectors of all living creatures. Every animal deserves humane living and dying conditions, period. When you allow the soring to go on, for the sake of winning a ribbon, humans prove to be the weakest link in our world!

  62. Ban horse soring permanently. This is an inhumane practice and only for sport and personal gain and not as a benefit to the poor horse that is being abused by this procedure.

  63. My dream is to see one of those odious Big Lick trainers do a few laps around a show ring wearing stacks and chains around their ankles to which burning chemicals have been added. Oh yeah, maybe a ball bearing or nail in the bottom of their hoof as well. If they flinch or show any pain they should be “stewarded” with a club to their heads. It is unbelievable that the Big Lick is still legal. End it NOW!

  64. My dream is to,see one of,those odious Big Lick trainers do a dew laps around a show ring wearing stacks and chains around their ankles to which burning chemicals have been added. Oh yeah, maybe a ball nearing or nail in the bottom of their hoof as well. If they flinch or show any pain they should be “stewarded” with a club to their heads. It is unbelievable that the Big Lick is still legal. End it NOW!

  65. I am a TWH owner, trainer and breeder in Belgium, Europe. The promotion of TWH’s in Europe has always suffered from the impact of soring taking place abroad. The past decade it resulted into most breeders to either cut down breeding or to stop completely. The import from the US is zero to none at the moment. At the same time, other gaited breeds like the RMH are growing rapidly in numbers. This could have been the TWH instead!

    Even 45 years late, soring has to stop! Along with action devices and severe bitting, that goes without saying.

    Please take a moment to study the law in various European countries:
    Rollkur is forbidden is several countries,
    Nothing more than a regular shoe for hoof protection only, any added weight is forbidden for example in Switzerland
    No use of draw reins in Switzerland
    No shaving of ears and muzzle in various European countries incl. Germany
    Quarter horses can be shown under saddle in competition from the age of 4 and above in Switzerland and Germany

    Traditions are a beautiful thing but not when abuse is involved. Nobody outside of Spain would consider bull fighting humane, same as people outside TN/KY consider Big Lick humane.

    End it, NOW!

  66. I once bought an aged TWH ‘World Champion’. I bought him because I disliked the owner. The old horse should have been retired long ago, but was used to teach beginning riders. He responded when he was yanked one way or the other. I was told, repeatedly, that he was a “World Champion” walking horse, that I was getting a great deal. He was indeed a World Champion Walking Horse, at one time. I bought him to retire him. He had no hair at all on his pasterns. Only old scars. He was ridden with the long shanked “walking horse” bit. He would stiffen when mounted, lift his head very high, then take off at a fast pace. In time he slowed, if I stayed motionless and relaxed.
    His natural gait was a long pace….no walk at all. In keg shoes, without weights, chains, rollers, wraps, or any other ‘aids’, he was a pacing horse. I learned, later, that this was as expected. I couln’t get him to relax. His head stayed high, even on a loose hackamore.
    The most ‘natural’, or relaxed gait he ever gave me was a regular pace. I never got him to relax his head and simply walk down a path. Eventually I realized the kindest gift I could give him was a pasture, with a horse in the pasture beside him. (He’d never learned how to interact with other horses in the same field.)
    This old horse taught me a lot. Kindness can help, but abuse cannot be unlearned. Abuse cannot be unlearned.

  67. I am okay with torturing animals for profit… as long as the owners and trainers must endure the exact same pain as the horses every time they sore a horse. …Wait, you mean it’s wrong to torture some sentient beings but perfectly okay to torture others? Who the hell made up that rule, because it sure wasn’t the horses!!

  68. Not sure what it says about a person who is willing to torture an animal in this fashion…especially such sensitive beings. But those who do so should be maligned by society and the politicians and society folks who side with this practice should also be maligned and regarded as twisted. People need to make no mistake about it…it is not “training,” and “abuse” isn’t even a strong enough word. It is torture, and those who enable it are torturers, no better than Jeffrey Dahmer, and they need to understand that society sees them as such. And that they should be ashamed.

  69. Deliberately causing pain on any animal is wrong and if this is already illegal, why are heads being turned while it is still happening. $$ ?? This cruelty needs to stop and horse should not purposely be put in pain for another’s gain!!!

  70. I have always felt, if you know how to properly train your horse, you should not sore it!!! Soring is cruel and abusive. No animal deserves to be!!!

  71. Please stop the practice of soring, This is a cruel and Inhumane act being done to these precious beings..Inagine the pain they feel, Lets stop this now..

  72. I am 100% for any regulations and penalties against soring. This barbaric practice has to be stopped by all means possible. Having them regulate themselves is like giving the fox the keys to the hen house. I live in TN and this breaks my heart.

  73. Soring practices definitely need to eliminated along with the artificially stacked feet and the fetlock chains. The Walking Horse show establishment and judges should award those horses that walk naturally not artificially. The industry sadly cannot police itself.

  74. Horses have always been a part of my life and I have rescued horses as well. If horses were in our position, they would never do this to us. They have worked for us, raced for us and given us love. Too bad that it has taken us this long to stop this barbaric practice of soring.

  75. Horses have always been a part of my life and I have rescued horses as well. If horses were in our position, they would never do this to us. They have worked for us, raced for us and given us love. I am ashamed that it has taken us as veterinarians and horse owners this long to stop this barbaric practice if soring.

  76. This practice is cruel and outright disgusting. It needs to be stopped immediately. How sick are these individiuals who do this for what? Win a ribbon, higher $ for breeding purposes??? Horses are gorgeous and should be treated with compassion.

  77. As a long time equine practitioner, I have prayed for an end to this barbaric method of harming horses. Since the day in my senior year in vet school when a”walking horse” on 6″ stacks slipped in the hallway of the large animal barn and dislocated his fetlock joint and had to be destroyed, I have hated the industry that perpetuates such pain inducing procedures on their animals. I have seen the sliding mercury block at work and had to cry to observe the moment. We in the horse industry are way past the time when this should have been ended. If this is not stopped completely and now then we are all guilty in the horse world of letting this continue. Shame on us.

    • Dear Dr. Williams,

      I have been trying to learn all I can about how & why soring has persisted. Could you explain what a “sliding mercury block” is? Thank you for your kindness & compassion for these wonderful horses.

  78. Soring and horseracing are similar in that you have the fox guarding the hen house. In soring, caustic substances are applied to horses’ feet. In Racing, horses are drugged by unscrupulous vets and trainers. Animals will continue to suffer until a legitimate agency who won’t be “paid off” oversees what goes on in the world of animal exploitation.
    I’m not sure if the USDA really cares enough to be that agency. I have no faith in those people.

    • The USDA is advocating the change of rules and wants to make action devices, such as stacks and padded shoes, chemical soring of horse’s legs and the removal of the ankle chains. This would stop horse soring and these beautiful horses could be free from soring and, once again, make Tennessee Walking horses something to be really proud of and America not seen as the horse torture country. If the USDA were not caring, why would it try to stop this terrible practice of soring. They have fought hard over the years by issuing horse protection violations. They have thermography and other high tech equipment that makes it easier to spot sored horses. Why do you think that they don’t care about horses and why don’t you trust them???

  79. I first learned about inhumane act in 1972 at the Great American Horse Show in Chicago, IL. It sickens me to think that humans are still doing this horses. If only every owner/trainer that did this to a horse had the same thing done to their feet!

    • The show you are referring to did not have any Tennessee Walking Horses. It was an American Saddlebred show. People get the two breeds confused, but even worse is confusing the corrective shoeing on ASBs with the soring and exaggerated stacking of the Walking Horses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>