I have had the opportunity to work with a number of Tennessee Walking Horses over the years. In my experience, they are kind, tough, gentle, and willing horses: just wonderful to be and work around. People tell me that they are comfortable to ride (I’ve never been on one), and great companions.
They are also the only breed about which a Federal Law has been passed. The law pertains to the practice of “soring.” Soring involves making the horse’s front feet extremely sensitive, by means of chemicals, chains, barbed wire, or other devices that make the horse want to pick up his feet (and avoid the pain).
For Tennessee Walking Horses, an animated gait is the ultimate sign of a quality horse. Unfortunately, some people will do just about anything to try to achieve that goal.
Here’s a brief clip of some show horses in action. “Give me some money.”
Two nights ago, ABC News ran footage, taken undercover, of some of the practices that go on in the Walking Horse Industry. WARNING: The footage is graphic. For anyone who love horses, it’s awful. CLICK HERE to see the video and accompanying story.
“So,” you may be wondering, “Is there anything that I can do?”
Glad you asked. Here are some suggestions.
1. Contact your congressman and senators. Don’t know who your representative it? CLICK HERE to find out. Congress needs to appropriate more money and resources to the United States Department of Agriculture so that they can expand their ability to inspect more shows, and particularly shows that are unaffiliated with any organizations. The frequency and severity of the penalties imposed on those that chose to treat horses in this manner needs to be increased.
2. Oregon Representative Kurt Schrader addressed this problem on the floor of the House of Representatives the day after the ABC Nightline program; you can call and register your support with his office at (503) 588-9100.
3. Representatives of both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners have met with various people in the walking horse industry, telling then that “soring” must be abolished (not just controlled). You can, too. CLICK HERE to go to the website of the Tennessee Walking Horse Association.
4. Call the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and express your support for wiping out “soring.” You phone the AAEP office at 859-233-0147, Fax them at 859-233-1968, or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pressure can work. For example, PepsiCo has just dropped sponsorship of a big show due to the video footage. CLICK HERE to read about that story.
People do lots of things to horses in the name of performance. That’s the name of one of my articles – CLICK HERE to read it. What’s going on in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry is unique to that breed, but there are abuses in many equine performance disciplines. Trying to eliminate “soring” from the Walking Horse Industry is a good start. Horses give us the best that they have – they deserve the same from us.