What is soring? Soring is when people put chains and chemicals on a horse’s front legs and hooves intentionally inflicting pain. This forces the horse to do an exaggerated, fake version of a gait. The Humane Society wrote “blistering agents like mustard oil, diesel fuel, and kerosene- are applied to the limbs causing extreme pain and suffering.” Even though they have tortured the horses enough by putting chemicals on their limbs, some people take it a step further and place stacks. Stacks are 4 inch high pads either made out of rubber, leather, or plastic held together by nails going into the sensitive part of the hoof called the “frog” (yes like the animal). the frog is the center part of the hoof which is a sensitive area for a horse. To make sure the stacks don't come off because of the weight there is a strap that goes on the pastern. The strap causes rubs and irritation and if the rub gets bad enough they will bleed. Because of the weight and pain the horse steps up higher. These horses don’t get turned out to get grass or run around like a normal horse. They get worked for 15-20 minutes maybe a little longer and then put back into their stalls.
The Tennessee Walking horse is the breed most affected by soring. Tennessee Walkers are known for their naturally smooth gates (which is not high stepping) so their fore people sore the horses to get that high step the judges love.
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander said that he is in favor of ending soring Tennessee Walking horses but thinks that it could end the old tradition of showing the breed and could be “overreaching”. From the Washington Times article Lamar is quoted: “He called on the new secretary of agriculture to work with Congress to enact legislation “that punishes trainers, owners and riders who abuse horses while preserving the opportunity for act abiding horse enthusiasts to participate in competitions that are the basis of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.” I understand why senator Alexander Lamar is worried that this will eliminate all showing of Tennessee Walking horses, but I don’t think that will happen. There are tons of shows dedicated to this breed without the abuse from the “Big Lick”. The Tennessee Walking horse industry supports more than 20,000 jobs nationwide. People do show Tennessee Walking horses without hurting them. People do trail rides, western, english, dressage, and eventing on them. There are shows designated just for Tennessee Walking horses and people show them in different disciplines like western pleasure, hunter/jumper, and showmanship. Showing a Tennessee Walking horse in the saddle seat discipline is usually not done because their gait is not meant for it. There is currently a act from 1970 on horse protection but people have figured out loopholes. This new act would make sure that all the loopholes that were there before are not there any more. This will insure that soring is no longer legal and people will get what they deserve. In my perfect world people would get put in jail for 20+ years depending on how harshly they abused the animal and how many they abused.
I will never be able to truly understand why someone would do such a cruel thing to an animal but I do know that money is a big factor. People are greedy when it comes to money, if they see an easy way to get money they will do whatever it takes. This happens in all the industries of the horse world but in my opinion the Tennessee Walking horses suffer the most. There are much easier ways to get money without the abuse of an animal. I know you don’t have to abuse a horse to win money with them. If you want to win money off of horses I suggest entering the racing business or the hunter jumper world where there are competitions with $50-$1 million dollar prizes. Invest in a race horse those make a lot of money too. People who abuse animals look at them like they're just objects that they can play with. They’re not just objects they’re living breathing mammals just like us. Horses need love and affection just like people.
This act is going to change the Tennessee Walking horse industry in a big way but it is going to be a good change. Abuse is still going to be a problem and it will be forever because their are just some people that are cruel but at least with this new act it is going to help eliminate soring and make sure punishments for this abuse is enforced.