Target: Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
Goal: End cruel soring practices forced on show horses for a desired gait.
Soring is the intentional infliction of pain on a horse to obtain a desired gait. Typically, soring is done with the injection or application of chemicals such as mustard oil, kerosene, and diesel fuel on a horse’s forelegs or hooves. An even more inhumane version of soring is known as pressure shoeing. This act involves cutting a horse’s hoof and tightly nailing a shoe on it. Some horses are even forced to stand with the sensitive part of their soles on a raised object, which causes intense pain and trauma. We must stop this inhumane treatment toward these precious creatures.
The Tennessee Walking Horse is the most common breed associated with soring but other breeds, such as racking horses and spotted saddle horses, also suffer the same fate. The practice starts while the horse is young, generally a yearling. While being sored, a horse is left in his stall for days and his legs are wrapped in cellophane to cook the chemicals into his flesh. The chemicals are both toxic and carcinogenic. Exposure to the chemicals can cause convulsions, heart attacks, gastrointestinal issues, muscle contractions, and fetal death. It is common to see horses subjected to soring lying in their stalls moaning in pain. They generally suffer from swelling, abrasions, and bleeding. When these horses are transported, chains are placed around the horse’s ankles, which cause further irritation and pain.
Instead of regular horseshoes, these horses are fitted with stacked pads. This causes the horse to stand at an unnatural angle like standing on high heels all day, every day. Sometimes, foreign objects are placed in the stacks, which increases more pain and suffering. As a final indignity, these horses are forced to stay in their stalls all day and are not allowed to graze or play outside. The high levels of stress, pain, and torment that the horses endure typically lead to early death, usually from colic or exposure to the harmful chemicals of soring.
The Horse Protection Act was passed by Congress in 1970 and “prohibits the showing, sale, auction, exhibition, or transport of sored horses.” The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), however, relies on horse industry insiders to train and license their own inspectors. These inspectors attend shows and competitions and examine the horses for signs of soring, scarring, or pain. Trainers, however, have been known to use numbing agents to mask a horse’s pain before inspection. Trainers also train the horses not to react to the pain of inspection and might also attach pain-inducing instruments to sensitive areas on the horse so he focuses more on the new pain than the soring pain.
By signing this petition below, you will urge the USDA to provide impartial inspectors at competitions to insure that horses are not being sored. Those found guilty of soring must be disqualified, fined, and jailed for animal cruelty. Please help end the suffering, torture, and maiming of horses.
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
The practice of soring horses is cruel and inhumane. Yearling horses are subjected to incalculable pain to produce a gait that can be achieved without torture. Instead of grazing or playing outside, sored horses endure harsh chemical or mechanical treatments to their forelegs and are forced to stand for hours on end in agony.
The Horse Protection Act of 1970 is supposed to prevent this brutal and merciless practice from happening, however, the USDA allows the horse industry to police themselves. Self-regulation ensures that things never changes and the practice continues.
Horses should not have to suffer for a human-desired, unnatural gait. I urge you to stop soring practices forced on horses for entertainment or profit. Horses deserve to run naturally and painlessly and enjoy the wind in their manes. Please ensure that the Horse Protection Act is enforced for all horses and that no more horses endure the painful procedures associated with soring.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Clarence Alford