Congress must end walking horse abuse

anti soring

Opponents to anti-soring bills continue to sow the lie that no more Walking horses will be bred if they cannot be abused. Ending soring of the Tennessee Walking horse will save the breed not destroy them, as so aptly stated by Leighann McCollum. ~ HfH

From: The Tennessean – Opinion Article
By: Leighann McCollum

Leighann McCollum

Leighann McCollum

Across Tennessee, horse trainers are repeatedly abusing, disfiguring and traumatizing show horses, just to win blue ribbons and acclaim for the owners.

To achieve the “Big Lick” gait, trainers paint caustic chemicals on the horses’ legs, wrap them tightly with plastic to “cook” the chemicals in, jam hard objects in their tender soles, and otherwise torture them in what’s euphemistically called “soring.” Then they beat and shock the horses to train them not to react to the pain when their legs are inspected during shows. It’s despicable cruelty, and it’s rightly illegal. It’s also well-documented that soring continues to plague the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.

On Dec. 2, Maryville horse trainer Larry Wheelon was indicted by a grand jury on animal cruelty charges stemming from suspected soring. After investigating, authorities seized horses from his barn this year, and witnesses said the horses were in so much pain they could hardly walk. The industry tries to put distance between the charges against Wheelon and the legislation needed to end soring, but the fact remains: “Soring” and animal cruelty are the same.

The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2013, H.R. 1518, will strengthen the federal Horse Protection Act. It is endorsed by the American Horse Council and a long list of walking horse associations, major veterinary groups and others. It has the bipartisan support of a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, with 242 co-sponsors; the recently introduced Senate companion bill, S. 1406, has 28 co-sponsors.

Congress absolutely should pass this legislation, and question the motives of anyone who would oppose these much-needed reforms.

At last month’s House committee hearing on this legislation, a spokesman for the Performance Show Horse Association continued to spread disinformation about the role of The Humane Society of the United States in the national effort to end soring. The HSUS supports the humane training, riding and exhibition of Tennessee Walking Horses. We’ve shown that support by sponsoring the 2013 World Versatility Show and funding a program to reward trainers who excel in venues other than the cruel “Big Lick” competitions.

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AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
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