New Law Aims to End the Cruel Practice of Soring
It is incredible what people do in the name of sport and in order to win.
Tennessee Walking Horses are a breed of gaited horse known for their unique four-beat running-walk. The Tennessee Walker originated from Narragansett pacers and Canadian Pacers which were brought to Kentucky in the late 18th century. These horses were crossed with gaited Spanish mustangs which had been imported from Texas.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="512"] A "big lick" Tennessee Walker wearing legal action devices in 2013. This horse passed USDA inspection to be allowed to compete.[/caption]
Cruelty for Ribbons
Unfortunately, unscrupulous owners have long been using cruel practices to ensure that their animals exhibit the exaggerated walking style that wins them ribbons at shows. This practice is called soring and produces a gait known as the "big lick".
Soring involves using chemical or mechanical irritants which inflict pain on the horses so that they step higher. The practice has been illegal since 1970 but some trainers have been exploiting loopholes in the law. The system of self-regulation has been corrupted and so the cruel practices have continued.
The New Law
But now new legislation has been introduced in America with the aim of stamping out soring for good. The new rule prohibits the showing and selling of horses which have been subjected to soring and prohibits the use of certain equipment. New inspectors will be trained and licensed to enforce the law and so practitioners will no longer be regulating themselves.
Chains and Stacks
The use of chains and large stacked shoes called stacks will also be outlawed. Here horses have huge pads and wedges attached to their hooves in order to alter their gait. These can be heavily weighted and may include features which inflict pain so the horse steps higher. The stacks are held on with horrible metal bands. From January 2018, all such devices will be completely banned at shows, exhibitions, sales and auctions. This gives horse owners a year to gradually reduce the size of the pads that their horses wear to limit the stress on their bodies.
Soring has brought shame on the state of Tennessee. Horse lovers, politicians and the Humane Society of the United States are all delighted with the new legislation. They hope that this represents a new dawn for Tennessee Walkers.