Why This Congresswoman Opposes Effort To End Horrifying Horse Abuse

Tennessee Walker

From: Huffington Post
By: Christina Wilkie

WASHINGTON — The cruel practice of “soring” championship gaited horses by wrapping their hooves in corrosive chemicals and then applying chains or bands to the wounds in order to create an artificially high-stepping gait came under heightened scrutiny this week in Congress.

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Kentucky Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield has introduced a bill to strengthen the decades-old ban on soring gaited horses. So far, Whitfield has garnered 233 co-sponsors from both parties, a difficult task in the highly polarized House of Representatives. But at a hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, Whitfield’s bill was met with opposition from his fellow Republican, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn.

Warning: The footage at the top of this article contains images of animal abuse that may be upsetting to some.

Kentucky and Tennessee are home to the bulk of the industry for gaited show horses, in which breeds like the Tennessee Walking Horse are paraded around show rings for major prize money in intense competitions. To create the signature high-stepped gait, trainers often use heavy weights or painful chains on the horses’ hooves. What may look to the audience like a happy horse prancing is actually a horse flinching — the animal lifts its legs higher because putting them on the ground is painful.

A Tennessee Walking Horse with chains and large, heavy weights attached to its hooves. Both would be banned under Whitfield's legislation. (AP Photo/Courtesy Harrell Brawner, File)

A Tennessee Walking Horse with chains and large, heavy weights attached to its hooves. Both would be banned under Whitfield’s legislation. (AP Photo/Courtesy Harrell Brawner, File)

Whitfield’s bill, called the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, would prohibit the use of any artificial tools to make horses hold their legs higher and stiffen maximum penalties for those who break existing Horse Protection Act statutes. It would also require that horse inspectors looking for soring be licensed by the USDA, and prohibit those with financial interests in the show industry from acting as inspectors. Tennessee Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen is also a leading sponsor of the bill.

Blackburn, who is vice chair of the subcommittee that held the hearing and one of the top Republican women in the House, spoke out against the bill. “This legislation brings excessive regulatory burdens on the walking horse industry and could potentially eliminate the entire industry and thus the entire breed,” Blackburn told the witnesses. The lawmaker argued that the show-horse industry’s compliance with the current ban on soring is around 97 percent, thereby making any tougher inspections unnecessary.

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  • Sue

    The above photo is a beautiful horse. It brought tears to my eyes, looking at his front feet. How cruel and absolutely unnecessary! I would love him as he is.

    Blackburn also hates people without health insurance.

    November 16, 2013
  • Karen Raether

    I can`t even think of a punishment good enough for these people. The electric hair would be to quick and easy,Life in prison would be to painless. Only part of my thoughts.

    November 16, 2013
  • Laverne Craig

    I am amazed that laws must be passed to stop this idiotic behavior of human beings. This practice of soring is criminal abuse and these criminals need laws to hold them accountable. So stupid. Have some compassion for the magnificent creatures that pay your stinking bills. Everyone practicing this horrible technique should be shot at sunrise. I am sick of arrogant idiotic people. Stop the abuse now!!

    November 16, 2013
  • Lisa

    Does she even believe herself?
    How can she look at herself in the mirror?
    what a shameful disgusting perverted
    twisted tool.

    November 16, 2013
  • Oda
    November 16, 2013
  • Margaret

    If horses were suppose to wear high heels they’d be born with them.

    At IEC last year I saw a picture of the outside hoof. The horse had pulled his foot from the hoof with all that added weight. That’s basically what Dr. Richardson had to do with Barbaro when he removed all the hoof wall. But Barbaro was knocked out for surgery and given pain killers.

    These horses suffer the worst physical abuse. It made me ill to watch. In fact, I actually had to turn my head away it was that bad. I actually cried after that–that people somehow think its okay to treat an animal like this.

    Perhaps I’m more sensitive about feet because I have heel spurs. There nasty hooky things that point downwards on the bottom of my heels. Walking barefoot can cause intolerable pain. Driving can cause intolerable pain. Life is miserable when my feet get bad. I have some things I can do for relief. The only relief these horses get is when someone comes in and confiscates the horses.

    November 17, 2013
    • Oda

      And unfortunately this is not all that’s going on out there….This comes from the Arabian show circuit. I have also heard of vets injecting iodine into shoulder joint to create a more shortstrided shuffle in QH hunters…

      Lots of “trainers” will slice tongues. Keeps the horses from putting any pressure on the bit. I’ve seen it a lot on the Arab circuit. My mom has a horse who’s tongue looks like this (he was a rescue we pulled) and he’s a 4 time US National Champion. You can’t even get a bit in his mouth, and it took years before he’d let you worm him without a fight.

      Sure! I think more people need to know what some trainers do at shows. They will purposely sore their mouths so they will be “light” in the bridle. They will lunge them for hours before a class, then not let them drink water or hose them off so to not “revive” them. It’s disgusting.

      November 18, 2013
  • sherriey

    study the picture above…do you see how the horse carries his weight on his back legs? how unbalanced he is? all b/c of the extreme pain associated with the front legs. so unnatural looking.

    November 18, 2013
  • Nancy Albin

    there is no end to what man will do to make a buck

    November 26, 2013