ASPCA Endorses New Legislation to Prohibit Cruel Practice of Horse Soring

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NEW YORK, SEPT. 13, 2012 — H.R. 6388 strengthens Horse Protection Act to better protect horses

The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today applauds Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Steve Cohen (D-TN) for introducing legislation to amend the federal Horse Protection Act of 1970 to eradicate the abusive practice of horse soring. H.R. 6388 will enhance the U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s (USDA) ability to enforce the Horse Protection Act by eliminating self-policing inspection practices, increasing penalties, and designating additional soring practices illegal.

Currently illegal under the Horse Protection Act, soring involves using painful chemicals and devices to inflict pain in horses to compel an exaggerated show-ring gait so desirable in the multimillion-dollar Tennessee Walking Horse industry.

Soring is a particularly cruel form of abuse as the horses are forced to endure years of chronic pain throughout their show career,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “The Horse Protection Act was specifically enacted in 1970 to prohibit this abhorrent practice, and yet it continues to pervade the gaited horse industry four decades later. We thank Representatives Whitfield, Cohen, Schakowsky, and Moran for introducing legislation to protect these gentle animals and bring an end to horse soring.”

“Far too often, those involved in showing the Tennessee Walking Horse have turned a blind eye to abusive trainers, or when they do take action, the penalties are so minor, it does nothing to prevent these barbaric acts,” said. Rep. Whitfield.  “This amendment does not cost the federal government any additional money and is essential in helping to put an end to the practice of soring Tennessee Walking Horses by abusive trainers.

“In Tennessee, soring horses is illegal and unacceptable,” said Rep. Cohen. “Those responsible for abusing these horses should be punished severely and banned from the sport.  How we treat animals is a direct reflection of our character, both as individuals and a nation.   There is no ribbon, no prize nor championship worth the price of one’s humanity.”

The training method known as “soring” involves the deliberate application of pain-causing chemicals, cuts or foreign objects to a horse’s limbs or hoof pads to cause such agony to the animal’s front limbs that any contact with the ground forces the horse to fling its leg back up into the air.  Additionally, trainers may attempt to mask soring by “stewarding” Tennessee Walking Horses, which conditions the horses to remain still by beating, torturing or burning them.

In 2010, the USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an audit of the horse protection program, finding that trainers in the industry often go to great lengths to evade detection rather than comply with federal law and train their horses using humane methods. The OIG made several recommendations, including stiffer penalties and abolishing the self-policing practices currently allowed, where the Horse Industry Organizations are able to assign their own inspectors to horse shows. 

H.R. 6388 will eliminate the current self-policing practices by requiring the USDA to assign a licensed inspector to a horse show. Second, it will prohibit the use of action devices on the various horse breeds that have frequently been the victims of soring.  Action devices, such as chains that rub up and down an already sore leg, intensify the horse’s pain when it moves, so that the horse quickly jolts up its leg.  Lastly, the amendment increases the penalties on an individual caught soring a horse.

For more information about the ASPCA’s efforts to protect horses and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit

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“It doesn’t matter how many times I watch this video, it always makes me cry! To purposely inflict pain on an animal,  just to win a prize is sickening; its legal abuse, just like rodeos! Why hasn’t it been stopped before now, they know it’s still happening, the majority of punters know it happens…but it all boils down to money, & when animals are involved, it is they, who always pay the highest price! Corrupt judges, vets, trainers, handlers…from the top down, their all in on it…they are nothing but sad, evil greedy bxxxxxd’s!! (excuse my French).

“My horse went lame over the weekend…my daughter brought back video of her…I haven’t stopped crying since viewing it! Watching her try to walk on 3 legs, bless, she must have been in agony…it was bloody heartbreaking to see; I felt so useless not being able to get to her due to my usual pain! Anyhow, vet thinks she pulled her stifle muscle, so she is on box rest with medication for pain & swelling, which is gradually getting better daily…got vets bill yesterday… £328…I knew it would be high because it was an emergency call out, but it’s not about the money, as long as she will soon feel better & be back to her old cantankerous way’s…I don’t care how much it will cost! 

“That’s what you do when you love your animals, I would sell the clothes off my back if need be, to pay for further treatment for her! Yet some turds in this industry purposely torture their horses, so they step higher, out of pain… just for a bloody rosette or tin cup!! They shouldn’t be anywhere near horses, or other animals for that matter…because they clearly don’t give 2 tits about them or their welfare, their only in it for the money they will make, out of the animals they abuse! So don’t ever believe them when they say ‘Oh, I just love my horse, he’s the best’… because their bloody lying!” 


Published on 17 May 2012 by 

The Humane Society of the United States released undercover video on Thursday, May 17, 2012, of a Tennessee Walking Horse trainer in Middle Tennessee abusing the animals in order to accentuate their well-known high leg kick.

Exclusive Video -Tennessee Walking Horse Investigation Exposes Cruelty

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“I have known what they do to these horses for a long time, being in the equine business.  Soring to me, is despicable, in which ever form it takes. It is the most heinous, deliberate form of causing direct pain to a horse; just to win a bloody prize.  If you are ever at one of these show’s & see a rider & horse disappear out of the ring, away from the suspect eyes of a vet; you can be sure they were up to no good!!

“The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is working with the industry to enforce the law, but it’s not always that easy! As is the norm, with human greed & competitiveness, some have found ways to make the ‘Running Walk’, which the horse is most popular for, even better; by causing deliberate pain!”

“There are 2 main category’s of competition, ‘The Flat- Shod’ horse, where the rules do not allow the use of chains or pads. They are judged on their natural ability to perform a high step, along with a good head, the amount of over stride of the back legs, also defines a good walker. And ‘The Performance’ category, is where the abuse is rife.   There are 2 common action devices allowed which are chains & pads on the horses front legs.” 

“The rules state that chains, worn around the front pasterns, should not weigh more than 6 oz, & should be used with a lubricant to slide easily. Pads, or stacks (the things that look like the horse is wearing built up boots) are added under the normal hoof, no more than 4″ in the heel & no more than 2″ in the toe.  Used as intended is shouldn’t cause pain to the horse, the problem is, they rarely are!”

 “Just as heavier chains can hurt, so can pads. If worn too long, the band that holds the pads in place, could cut into the hoof wall. Throwing a stack of pads off wouldn’t hurt the horse, but if a stack of pads is thrown off including  the shoe, the band which holds them on, could tear off part of the hoof wall.”

 “Owners/trainers are become ever more clever at concealing their abuse, to those put in place to protect the horse i.e. vets.  Some will teach the horse, through fear & severe punishment, not to react to pain, when a vet or other qualified person, presses on the lower legs; often called ‘stewarding’.  Others will use topical anesthetics that will work whilst the horses are being checked, but will wear off once in the ring.  Others will use timed chemicals that will not show up to the vet but will be in effect once in the ring, causing sever pain!

“There are other forms of soring, are not as well-known to the public, as the caustic applications are. One of which, is when the hoof is trimmed back to the quick, so that the hoof is in direct contact with the pad or shoe. Nails, beads & screws can be put under the pad or shoe to cause more pressure. The horse is ridden on a road or concrete surface until the horses hooves are so sore, it has the desired effect, the horse is then in effect “road foundered.”

“Some will even resort to sticking tacks, pins etc. into the white line of the hoof causing deliberate & immediate pain.  The horse reacts,  similar to what we would,  if we stepped on a tack. But the horse can’t stop, therefore each time the foot is placed down the immediate reaction is to lift it back up high again, hopping from one to the other. Imagine how painful that is!”

 “Don’t get me wrong, there are some very good trainers out there, who are getting bad press due to those who do abuse. I have a friend, who trains & show’s TWH, she is appalled at what some will do. But she knows the abuse won’t stop immediately, because there will always be humans willing to abuse & cause horrific pain to a horse or any other animal just for their own self-importance & gratification.” They will always be one step ahead of those trying to end these acts of abuse. In my opinion, it won’t stop until they put a stop to ‘The Performance’ category!”

Published on 16 May 2012 by 

An HSUS undercover investigation into the walking horse industry finds rampant cruelty. Warning: Contains Graphic Footage.

Undercover Horse Abuse Video Exposes Shocking Cruelty

An HSUS undercover investigation at a training barn for Tennessee Walking horses led to state and federal criminal charges against nationally known trainer Jackie McConnell and some of his associates. The group was charged with felony conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act as well as numerous violations of the Tennessee Cruelty to Animals Statute after being videotaped using caustic chemicals on the front legs of horses in order to cause pain, resulting in the artificially produced high-stepping gait that wins prizes in the show ring.

This cruel practice is called “soring” and has been illegal for more than 40 years under the federal Horse Protection Act. The HSUS undercover video shows horses being whipped, kicked, shocked in the face, and violently cracked across their skulls and legs with heavy wooden sticks during and after soring of their front legs. Unless the Horse Protection Act is upgraded to include stronger penalties for this type of horrendous abuse and to end the failed system of industry self-policing, inhumane trainers will continue to torture horses.

Please make a brief, polite phone call to your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators urging them to fix the problems in the Horse Protection Act. Look up your federal legislators’ phone numbers here. You can say: “I am a constituent and I urge you to upgrade penalties in the Horse Protection Act and require more meaningful enforcement by USDA to end the abusive and common practice of soring Tennessee Walking horses.”

Then, use the form below to send a follow-up note. Be sure to edit your message so that it stands out.

Click here for the petition letter:

This action alert is for U.S. residents only. International advocates, please visit Humane Society International for ways you can take action for animals.

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