Target: Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam
Goal: Ban Tennessee Walking Horse shows for which horses are routinely abused.
Horse trainers routinely put nails under their animals’ hoof pads and wrap their legs in chains dipped in acid to prepare them for the Tennessee Walking Horse shows. The aim is to achieve the exaggerated high-stepping gait known as the “Big Lick.” In this practice known as “soring,” trainers intentionally inflict pain on horses in order for it to be so painful for them to put their hooves down that they immediately pull them up again, higher and faster depending on the amount of pain.
The practice commonly involves using caustic chemicals on the hooves and legs to burn the flesh and cause painful blisters and scars, making horses wear heavy chains or shoes and inserting nails and screws under their hooves. Investigations have also revealed trainers beating their horses and using cattle prods to achieve the artificial walk they desire.
“Soring” was made illegal in 1970, yet Walking Horse trainers have continued their systematic abuse, simply finding new ways to mask “soring” and inflict pain. In 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) started enforcing surprise inspections and disqualifications due to public outcry at the cruelty of the practice. Nonetheless, trainers carried on their cruel practices undeterred. As recently as this year, an investigation led by the Humane Society of the United States at the ThorSport Farm in Tennessee—one of the major barns training walking horses—revealed that this illegal activity lingers persistently.
The largest of these shows is the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, comprising eleven days of competitions in which suffering horses are made to perform. In 2013, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA found that a whopping 67 percent of all horses competing in the show tested positive for substances meant to mask “soring” practices.
In light of this, it is clear that as long as these competitions continue, trainers will find ways to “sore” their horses. No animal should be made to suffer for the sake of a blue ribbon. Sign this petition urging Tennessee to put an end to their cruel Walking Horse shows, starting with the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.
Dear Governor Haslam,
A recent investigation by the Humane Society of the United States found that the practice of “soring” Walking Horses runs rampant despite having been rendered illegal in 1970. This practice involves causing extreme pain to horses in order to achieve the exaggerated high-stepping gait called the “Big Lick.”
Horses are routinely made to wear heavy objects such as chains dipped in caustic chemicals, leaving painful blisters and scars on their flesh. Nails stuck into their hoof pads are meant to make stepping down so excruciating that they pick their hooves right back up, higher and faster depending on the degree of pain they feel. In extreme cases, they are beaten and jabbed with cattle prods.
Most people may believe that these practices are the exception, not the rule, but a 2013 USDA investigation proves otherwise. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA found that a whopping 67 percent of all horses competing in the Tennessee Walking Horses National Celebration tested positive for substances meant to cover up “soring.” It is clear that as long as there are Walking Horses shows, this barbaric practice will endure.
No animal should suffer for the sake of entertainment. I urge you to put an end to these cruel Walking Horse shows, including the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: USDA