Self-policing in walking horse industry a myth; reform bill necessary

Tennessee Walker

It is amazing how much money can be made from the torture of Tennessee Walking Horses. Pam Rogers is spot on. An industry where so much is being made off of soring, is one that cannot be self-regulated. The PAST Act is necessary to get control away from criminal enterprises and back to those who truly value the horse. ~ HfH

From: Lexington Herald Leader Letter to the Editor
By: Pam Rogers: HSUS Kentucky Director

Tennessee WalkerJim Cortner’s March 16 column, “Walking horse industry committed to self-policing animal abuse,” is mere rhetoric. Horse abuse is indefensible, so he’s trying to feed the public lines about how this abusive part of the industry is cleaning up — but no one’s buying it.

Bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate have signed on to co-sponsor the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 1518/S.1406, which will finally eliminate the cruel methods of soring horses used to achieve the big lick gait.

The USDA’s Office of Inspector General, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and many others agree that self-regulation in this industry has been a complete failure and should be abolished.

The industry’s “compliance” numbers are bunk: they’re manufactured results from inspections conducted by individuals with conflicts of interest, and they don’t reflect what goes on at shows or in the training process.

Dr. John C. Haffner, a long-time veterinarian who spent a career treating performance walking horses, wrote in a letter to Rep. Ed Whitfield, “The fact is the big lick can only be accomplished by soring. When one soring technique becomes detectable, another one is developed.”

The big-lick faction supports Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s alternative bill because it codifies the corrupt status quo.

The PAST Act’s meaningful reforms are needed to crack down on criminal activity perpetrated by the dark side of this industry — those who profit from abuse at the expense of the welfare of the horses.


AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
  • Sue

    Reminds me of “self policing” in TB racing!

    March 26, 2014
  • Sue Carter

    Thank You Dr. Haffner,
    We are truly in a sad state of affairs, When people like Marsha Blackburn push Bills to hide Animal Abuse. Soring is Cruel and Unusual animal Abuse!

    March 26, 2014
  • Janet Schultz

    Any contraption put on a horse’s leg to change its footfall is cruel. They won’t know it is to go faster or higher, they will only know their bones and muscles ache. But despite the consequences, which they will not anticipate, they will give their all just because it is asked of them. Anyone who insists on shooting them up, pinfiring them, applying burning ppultices, weights, balls, pads stuffed with barbs or shoes that change their weight bearing MUST have the privilege of owning or doing business because of that horse taken awAy. The people seeing this happen are SICK of it and I for one, demand a stop be put to it. I am squarely on the side of the horse. As for this dance of which anti-soring law to pass – it should be obvious the law with the most consideration for the horse be passed. That would leave the law favoring business in the muck baske, because it should never have been introduced and the authors know it.

    March 26, 2014
  • Lorrie Roehm

    If you complain to the Show Secretary/Steward regarding soring, ie blood running down the horses leg of any TWH at a show nothing is done! So people in charge at shows need to enforce any and all laws regarding abuse, drug use, etc. of any and all horses at shows!

    March 26, 2014
  • Mary Anne Gardner

    Yes money talks but think how many horses have suffered for nothing but the “big lick”. It’s a shame and I hope some how these horses can be saved from the pain but still be beautiful in the ring!!!PLEASE!!

    March 26, 2014
    • Janet Schultz

      I love your question. I have never owned a TWH, but am old enough to remember watching naturaLly going TWH at the running walk, striding out and lifting their front legs high and reaching out. Oh it was awesome to see. It is in the genetics of the TWH to have that far reaching floating stride. At that time, I protested the tail brace. The tail was broken and set in a brace at all times so that in te ring, the tail flagged like an Arabian. And of course, added flare when the horses were parked during the conformation review. Obviously, humans substituted their own seeking glory forhappiness and health of the horses to see wh we are where we witness horses whimpering and screeching in pain. But in answwer to your concern, TWH have a natural Big Lick despite manyy thinking the soring is needed to cause it.

      March 27, 2014
  • Robynne Catheron

    The scary part of this is exactly what Dr Haffner says, “When one soring technique becomes detectable, another one is developed.” You can bet each new technique is more heinous than the last. Way back in the 50s and 60s, before x-rays were used, we thought it was pretty despicable that they were pounding large screws into their soles, or hiding half of a golf ball under the stacked shoes. Now what they’re doing is beyond comprehension. For example, when training the horse to stand perfectly still while having their legs inspected for soring, the trainer will attach a wire from a car battery to their genitals. Every time the horse flinches or even blinks an eye when his painful lower legs are touched, he receives a massive electric shock. Now he’ll stand still for the inspector at horse shows and not give away the fact that he’s been sored.
    By some chance a horse IS found sored, he’s only disqualified from showing in his next class. There is nothing stopping him from showing later in the afternoon, since he’s already been inspected.
    Something else these cretins are notorious for is not using any caustic chemicals (kerosene, diesel fuel, mustard oil) at all the morning of the show. The horse passes inspection, and just seconds before the horse and rider enter the ring his trainer will slap some skin-eating liquid fire on the horse’s lower front legs. The horse and rider literally fly into the ring, feet flailing high and eyes wild with agony and terror, to the ecstatic and excited cheers from the spectators.

    How much worse can it get for the horses? God help them. In the meantime, every single one of us horse warriors needs to call our legislators today, and implore them to co-sponsor the PAST Act (S.1406/H.R. 1518). Then ask our family and friends to make the same call.

    March 27, 2014