What Is Sored On A Horse? (Correct answer)

  • Horse soring is the purposeful infliction of pain on a horse’s legs or hooves in an attempt to create an exaggerated gait. The sadistic, convoluted theory behind horse soring is that if the horse is in an incredible amount of pain, he will not want to bear any weight on his legs, thus keeping them in the air longer.

What does it mean when a horse has been sored?

A. Soring is the unethical and illegal1 practice of deliberately inflicting pain to exaggerate the leg motion of horses to gain an unfair advantage in the show ring. The chest-high stride achieved by soring is known in the industry as the “big lick”.

Why is Big Lick legal?

It is illegal in the U.S. under the Horse Protection Act of 1970. Practitioners of soring do so because they believe that the pain associated with this practice exaggerates the “big lick” to a greater degree and gives them a competitive edge over other horses.

How do you stop a horse from soring?

Soring methods include applying caustic chemicals, using plastic wrap and tight bandages to “cook” those chemicals deep into the horse’s flesh for days, attaching chains to strike against the sore legs, inserting hard objects such as screws and resins into tender areas of the hooves, paring the soles of the feet down

How can you tell if a horse has been sored?

Soring may be detected by visual inspection of the horse’s posture and legs and by palpation of the horse’s lower leg. Signs of pain include excessive time spent lying down, unwillingness to move, and an abnormal posture while standing or when in motion.

Why do they put hot shoes on horses?

The purpose is to create a smooth interface surface between the hoof and the shoe and to seal the cut horn tubules, making them less likely to dry out in a dry climate or take on moisture and soften in a wet environment. Hot shoeing also helps stabilize shoes with clips.

Is the Big Lick abuse?

Soring involves the intentional infliction of pain to a horse’s legs or hooves in order to force the horse to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait. Today, judges continue to reward the artificial “Big Lick” gait, thus encouraging participants to sore their horses and allowing the cruel practice to persist.

Are show horses abused?

Abuse Often Results in More Abuse One disturbing form of abuse performed on the vast majority of horses showing in reining and stock horse breed shows such as AQHA and APHA is known as “doing” horses’ tails. This barbaric procedure involves injecting the horses’ tail heads with substances to deaden the nerves.

How did the Big Lick start?

During the first half of the 1800s, settlers moved into the area around what is now known as Oakboro. According to the late Fred T. Morgan, there were salt licks in the area that attracted many deer that were seen to be licking these marshy holes in the ground. Due to this, the area eventually became known as Big Lick.

What is a foundered horse?

Founder is a common cause of lameness in horses. It involves damage to the laminar connection between the hoof wall and the coffin bone. This often leads to rotation and/or sinking of the coffin bone which causes severe pain and can permanently damage the hoof structure.

What is horse abuse?

Horse abuse is the cause of suffering or harm upon a horse for any reason other than self-defense. There are federal and state laws that address animal abuse and cruelty. Ignorance is the most common cause of horse abuse.

Is horse training cruel?

Many horses compete at the highest level of dressage and are not treated cruelly. However, some dressage competitions and training are cruel. Harmful conditions arise through forceful and rapid training methods. But, training practiced with patience and care is beneficial for you and your horse.

Where does the Big Lick take place?

Unfortunately, Columbia is also “ground zero” in the fight to end the “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty to Tennessee Walking Horses. It is the largest city in Tennessee, which still hosts three nights of “Big Lick” animal cruelty at its Maury County Park.

Why is it called the Big Lick?

Roanoke was originally known as Big Lick, due to the salt in the natural springs that attracted animals in the colonial era. Dr. Thomas Walker visited it in 1750, on the way to crossing Cumberland Gap: Roanoke became known as the Magic City because it was “the fastest growing urban area in the South from 1880 to 1890.”

What is the PAST Act?

The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act would: Eliminate self-policing by requiring the USDA to assign a licensed inspector if the show’s management indicates intent to hire one.

What is soring?

Using soring to induce a horse to produce an artificial, exaggerated gait, the horse’s legs or hooves are intentionally injured in order to force the animal to perform the gait. A caustic chemical (blistering substances such as mustard oil, diesel fuel, and kerosene) is administered to the horse’s limbs, resulting in great agony and suffering for the animal. Pressure shoeing is a particularly heinous kind of soring that entails cutting a horse’s hoof down to the quick and firmly nailing on a shoe, or standing a horse for hours with the sensitive section of his soles resting on a block or other elevated object.

The soring of Tennessee walking horses has been a regular and prevalent practice in the state’s horse show industry for decades.

Which horse breeds suffer from soring?

Using soring to cause a horse to produce a fake, exaggerated gait, the horse’s legs or hooves are intentionally injured in order to force the animal to move in a certain way. A caustic chemical (blistering substances such as mustard oil, diesel fuel, and kerosene) is administered to the horse’s limbs, resulting in great agony and suffering for the horse. Known as pressure shoeing, this especially heinous kind of soring entails cutting a horse’s hoof down to the quick and securely nailing on a shoe, as well as standing a horse for hours with the sensitive section of his soles on a block or other elevated object.

The soring of Tennessee walking horse competitors has been a popular and prevalent practice in the profession for many years.

Hasn’t soring been outlawed by Congress?

Yes. The Horse Protection Act, approved by Congress in the early 1970s, was intended to put an end to this inhumane practice, which it did. Underfunding and political pressure from industry insiders have hampered the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s enforcement of the HPA from the commencement of the law’s implementation. Because of a lack of enough money, the USDA is unable to send representatives to every Tennessee Walking Horse and Racking Horse exhibition. Therefore, they established a system that permits horse industry organizations (HIOs) to educate and license their own inspectors, known as Designated Qualified Persons (DQPs), who are responsible for inspecting horses at horse shows to determine if they have been affected by soring.

The practice of soring continues to be popular in regions like Tennessee, Kentucky, and other states in the southeast, despite the fact that some states have passed laws against it.

How is soring detected?

All Tennessee walking horses and Racking horses are required to be registered under federal law. Horses entered in exhibitions, shows, auctions, or sales are subjected to a soring inspection before entering the show ring or auction hall. Any horse that wins first place in a show or exhibition must also be subjected to an inspection following the conclusion of the winning class. Typically, an inspector will personally check, or “palpate,” the horse’s front legs to determine whether or not the horse is in discomfort, as well as to search for any other unusualities.

The inspection of horses is permitted anywhere on the grounds of a show, exhibition, auction or sale (as well as during transportation to these venues), but intimidation, harassment, and threats from industry participants have prevented inspectors from inspecting horses outside of a designated inspection area, immediately before entering the show ring.

Some trainers would apply numbing substances to their horses’ legs prior to inspection in an attempt to disguise soreness.

In some cases, people “steward” their horses at home, subjecting them to simulated exams in which they are punished with a whip, bat, or other blunt object if the horse reacts to the palpations.

In certain cases, trainers would attach alligator clips and other painful objects to sensitive regions of the horse prior to inspection, prompting him to concentrate on the new source of pain rather than his legs and feet.

What is the HSUS doing to end soring?

Through its advocacy for the passage of the PAST Act in Congress, the Humane Society of the United States is actively trying to put a stop to soring. As part of our efforts, we are urging the USDA to step up its enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, urging Congress to increase funding for the HPA, offering rewards to horse abusers who are apprehended, and assisting breed and industry organizations that promote the natural gait and humane treatment of Tennessee walking horses.

Reaching out to law enforcement

Animal Welfare Society of America (HSUS) has distributed resources to county sheriffs in Tennessee, Ohio, and Kentucky as part of a larger effort to educate and assist law-enforcement agencies regarding animal cruelty.

Resources include posters, advertising rewards for tips on soring, and information about how our Animal Rescue Team can assist law-enforcement agencies in caring for animals who are at risk during natural disasters.


After a recent undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States, famous trainer Jackie McConnell was arrested and indicted on 52 charges of breaching the law, including felony breaches of the Horse Protection Act. “Nightline” broadcast an undercover video of the atrocities, and CNN’s “Headline News” published fragments from the film that chronicled the crimes.

Soring in Horses FAQ

15th of February, 2012 Q. What exactly is Soring? An unethical and illegal1practice of purposefully causing pain to horses in order to enhance the leg motion of the horses in order to acquire an unfair advantage in the show ring is defined as follows: The “big lick” is a term used in the business to describe the chest-high stride obtained through soring. Q. Which breed(s) are known to engage in soring? A.Tennessee Soring is a widespread activity that causes suffering in walking horses. It is possible that soring will affect other gaited breeds as well, such as Racking Horses, Spotted Saddle horses, Rocky Mountain horses, and Missouri Fox-Trotters, among others.

  1. In order to sore the horse’s forelegs, irritants or unpleasant mechanical devices are injected or applied to the horse’s forelegs, causing irritation or blistering.
  2. This procedure is called chemical soring.
  3. Once the horse’s skin has become very sensitive as a result of the chemicals, “action devices” are inserted around the pastern.
  4. In addition to causing sensitive skin, the chemicals cause the horse’s hoof to become sensitive when it comes into contact with hard surfaces.
  5. A harsh technique has evolved as a result of greater attention on scarring violations: owners and trainers apply a chemical stripping agent to the horse’s legs in order to burn off scar tissue left by the original chemical soring.
  6. Action devices—The Horse Protection Act allows for the use of one action device per leg.
  7. Furthermore, the equipment must not weigh more than 6 ounces in total weight.

Mechanical/Physical soring—This sort of soring involves cutting the horse’s hoof or attaching devices to the horse’s hooves that cause the horse’s hooves to be painful, causing the animal to bring up its feet more quickly and higher. Some of the approaches that have been employed are as follows:

  • Grinding down the sole of the hoof to expose the spongy, delicate tissues beneath the sole
  • Shortening the length of the hoof wall relative to the length of the sole A common practice is to remove the hoof wall’s support, which forces the sole to take on all of the weight. This is known as “sole bearing.” There are several variations of this technique: “rolling the sole
  • ” inserting hard items between the shoe or pad and sole to generate pressure and agony
  • Blocking is the practice of keeping a horse’s sensitive section of their sole on a block or other elevated object for extended periods of time. Intentionally creating laminitis (often referred to as “founder”), which is an extremely painful inflammation of the tissues within the foot, is considered a criminal offense. This is sometimes referred to as “the natural fix.”
  • Excessive tightening of the metal bands that wrap around the hoof’s circumference. This results in discomfort due to increased pressure on the hoof wall. The following are examples of improper shoeing procedures that are prohibited by the HPA:
  • Extreme wedging with pads, resulting in an abnormal heel-to-toe ratio
  • Metal hoof bands that are put very high on the hoof
  • Adding excessive weight to the pad or box (for example, lead)
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Q.How does soring come to be detected? The use of visual observation is described below. It is possible that the first sign of soreness will be a change in the horse’s posture: a horse suffering from front foot/leg pain will often lie down more than usual, may be unwilling to move, or may adopt a “standing in a bucket” position, in which its hind legs are pulled together and positioned more forward than normal in order to take weight off the painful front legs. Because of this, as the horse is propelled forward, it rocks back and carries the majority of his weight on its hind legs.

  1. Horses’ normal biomechanics dictate that they should bear 60-65 percent of their weight on their front limbs, which is the polar opposite of what is done here.
  2. Horses who are in pain may also move forward slowly and with short, choppy steps.
  3. If a horse has been chemically sored, the skin may be bloated, uncomfortable, abraded, or gushing blood or serum as a result of the chemical sore (a yellow fluid).
  4. A pain reaction in which the horse attempts to remove its leg is caused by finger pressure over the injured location, however stewarding (described below) of horses may result in no apparent response despite the existence of discomfort.
  5. Additional instruments have become necessary as a result.
  6. 4 Both abnormally warm and excessively chilly regions signal the presence of anomalies and the need for further investigation.
  7. A reduction in blood flow or the use of cooling agents, such as a numbing agent, may be responsible for areas that look overly chilly.

It is a combination of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.

Q.Is soring a criminal offense?

Soring was declared illegal under the Horse Protection Act of 1970 (HPA), and it was punished by fines and jail.

Furthermore, the Horse Protection Act forbids transportation companies from carrying sore horses to or from any of these activities.

The HPA is enforced in a variety of methods, including: Designated Qualified Persons (DQPs)—The USDA recognizes DQPs, who are veterinarians who are knowledgeable about the sector and who have been educated by the USDA to detect signs of soring in livestock.

Before a horse may be displayed, sold, or exhibited, the DQPs conduct a thorough medical examination of it.

Veterinary Medical Officers (VMOs)—The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) performs unannounced inspections at horse events where soring is a possibility, such as the Kentucky Derby.

The HIOs have been given permission to conduct inspections for breaches of the HPA.

A.Soring continues to occur for a variety of reasons, including the desire of trainers and owners to escape discovery, the practice of judges honoring sored horses in the show ring, and USDA funding limits.

Keeping from being discovered: Detecting soring is difficult due to the fact that unethical trainers and owners employ a variety of techniques to avoid being discovered.

  • Numbing agents: These agents mask discomfort during examination, but they wear off by the time of the display or exhibition. Training methods that are severe and/or unpleasant (e.g., beating, electric prod) are used at practice inspections to educate horses that flinching or responding would result in further suffering
  • Stewarding Devices that divert attention away from the foot, such as a bit burr beneath the saddle, twitch of the hand, alligator clips on sensitive areas such as the genitals, or surgical staples under the mane right before inspection are all examples of distraction devices. Horse swapping is defined as the practice of providing a substitute horse for inspection under fraudulent papers, followed by displaying the injured horse in the ring.
  • While the largest premium paid in a class at either the National Walking Horse Association’s (NWHA) The National7or the Friends of Sound Horses’ (FOSH) North American Pleasure Gaited Horse Championship8was $300, the largest premium paid in a class at either the National Walking Horse Association’s (NWHA) The National7or the Friends of Sound Horses’ (FOSH) North American Pleasure Gaited Horse Championship8was $300
  • Additionally, in addition to the cash and notoriety offered to victors, owners and trainers are also rewarded future breeding and training fees from other showmen who aspire to have a successful horse.

Budgetary restrictions:

  • Because of funding limits, USDA inspectors can only attend a tiny fraction of trade exhibitions. “Self-policing” by HIOs is unsuccessful owing to an inherent conflict of interest that exists among many industry inspectors who are frequently actively involved in the business as owners and/or trainers
  • And HPA offenders have historically received light penalty, even when they have been ticketed. In 2011, the USDA, on the other hand, took efforts to tighten its enforcement of the HPA.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has taken a position on soring. A.For more than 40 years, the American Veterinary Medical Association has denounced the practice of soring. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) now supports the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) position on “The Practice of Soring.” Q.May you tell me where I can learn more about showing? A.For further information on the Horse Protection Act, please see the website of the United States Department of Agriculture ().

  • The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
  • The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP)
  • And the American Society of Equine Practitioners (ASEP).

A nonprofit organization committed to educating the public about the humane care, management, and training of gaited horses, as well as encouraging the display of flat-shod, gaited horses, Friends of Sound Horses Inc. (FOSH) was founded in 2003 by a group of horse enthusiasts. How do I proceed if I have reason to believe or know that someone has sored their horse? A.Please notify the USDA of any instances of soring, including occurrences of soring at barns or shows; reporting barns, trainers, and owners that engage in soring methods; and reporting “outlaw shows” that are arranged without the approval of a licensed HIO.


Rachel Cezar, Horse Protection Coordinator rachelcezaraphisusdagov FOOTNOTESaUSDA representatives visited a total of 208 exhibitions between 2008 and 2011.

REFERENCES Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS).

Obtainable at: accessed on October 19, 2011 (APHIS (United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service), Horse Protection Act Factsheet, November 2004.

  • Accessible at: aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal welfare/content/printable version/FS-HorseProtectionAct-Final.pdf (Final Version).
  • Three-dimensional conformation analysis of horses, published by Washington State University Extension in May 2006.
  • This resource may be found at: Accessed November 24, 2015.
  • The month of February, 2009.
  • Accessed on August 19, 2011 from the website.
  • The National Program for the Show.
  • The Premium Book for the North American Pleasure Gaited Horse Championships.
This information has been prepared as a service by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Division.Mention of trade names, products, commercial practices or organizations does not imply endorsement by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

It’s a touchy issue, to put it mildly, that appears to produce enormous waves of debate before disappearing beneath the surface on alternating occasions. It raised its obnoxious head once more the other day. Our editorial for today’s “Morning Feed” explored the incident and the relevance of what happened. One such example is the punishment of a Tennessee Walking Horse trainer in Tennessee who was sentenced to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine for his involvement in the practice of soring. The trainer’s reply was, simply, “But everyone is doing it”–which didn’t sit well with the court, who made the landmark animal welfare decision to prosecute someone on soring charges for the first time in 20 years, setting a precedent for future animal welfare decisions.

It is the headline under which a variety of methods can be classified: caustic substances can be applied to the leg, either externally or internally; tacks, nails, screws, or chemical agents can be injected into the leg; and the leg can be cut, burned, or lacerated, among other tactics, to cause injury.

  1. Originally developed in the Southeastern United States, primarily in Tennessee, the Tennessee Walking Horse (TWH) was created by crossing smooth-moving horses such as Morgans, Narrangansett Pacers, Standardbreds, and Saddlebreds.
  2. Originally developed as a suitable mount for plantation owners who spent long hours in the saddle each day riding over their estate and supervising field laborers, the breed has evolved into something much more.
  3. It was also commonplace for plantation owners to organize match races between their TWHs as the breed gained in popularity, a competitive hobby that eventually spilled over into the show ring.
  4. Their stride, known as the “Big Lick,” was extremely expressive and garnered large audiences as well as praise from judges.
  5. When the horse performs this action, the weight-bearing hind legs stretch beneath the horse in order to compensate for the horse’s snapping knees up to its chest and holding its head high.
  6. In the early 1950s, trainers began experimenting with faster, simpler methods of achieving the same end result as the traditional method.
  7. The practice makes logical sense from a logical standpoint: When the horse’s front feet make contact with the ground, it transfers its weight backwards and tries to maintain its front legs in the air for as long as possible to avoid the discomfort.

One may combine mustard oil with Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) to aid in the absorption of chemicals via the skin, wrap the leg in plastic wrap that is covered by leg wraps, and let the leg to “cook” over night in this manner.

By the 1960s, the practice of soring had spread throughout the world.

In 1970, Congress approved the Horse Protection Act, which expressly prohibited the practice of soring horses.

Inspections included showing up unannounced and looking for signs of soring on the horses’ legs.

Despite the government’s crackdown, the practice of soring continues even into the twenty-first century, albeit at a much reduced extent.

An investigation conducted by the Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2010 revealed major flaws in the implementation of the Horse Protection Act, which allowed widespread abuse of show horses to occur.

To replace the crude irritants that left the TWHs of the past with open sores and scars, stronger chemicals that function beyond the skin’s surface to generate the desired painful effect, or pain-masking agents, are now utilized to treat the TWHs of today.

And, of course, when it becomes known that a USDF inspector will be there, it is always conceivable for a hurt horse to be pulled from a show.

Only time will tell if and when the practice will ultimately be consigned to the annals of history altogether. Stopsoring.com is the source of this information. Human Society of the United States of America (top picture)

USDA announces strict changes to end soring of Tennessee walking horses

  • The United States Department of Agriculture announced revisions to the Horse Protection Act on Friday, which many have welcomed as a significant step forward in the effort to put a stop to the inhumane practice of soring horses in competition. Soring is the technique of purposefully inflicting pain on Tennessee walking horses and kindred breeds in order to exaggerate their gait, leading the animals to elevate their front legs higher in what is known as the “Big Lick.” Soring is illegal in Tennessee and other states. Caustic chemicals are frequently used, which are subsequently irritated by chains. Various kinds of abuse include putting things between the hoof and stacked shoes, as well as other forms of physical violence. The new law would prohibit the use of much of the equipment now in use, including the usage of chains around horses’ ankles during training and stacks, which are large weights affixed to the horses’ front hooves. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be responsible for training and licensing inspectors. In the words of Keith Dane, senior consultant on horse safety for the Humane Society of the United States, “(the USDA is) taking away the most evident and common equipment used for soring.” “The rule provides us with a great deal of encouragement.” President of the Humane Society, Wayne Pacelle, stated that reformers have committed many hours to bringing compassion to these horses, and that they have worked to abolish “a practice that is as terrible and purposeful as dogfighting or cockfighting. USDA claims that horse industry inspectors are now responsible for educating their own employees, creating an ethical dilemma that prevents them from being motivated to identify breaches. Inspectors from the federal government typically detect more sored horses during audits than do private inspectors. The new trainers would be veterinarians and veterinarian educators, among other professionals in the field. Applicants for a horse protection inspector’s license may be denied, and inspectors who fail to follow the approved inspection processes or who otherwise fail to carry out their duties and obligations may have their licenses revoked, according to the APHIS. One change from the first proposal is that the USDA would not tighten limits on heavy horse shoes or metal bands placed across the hooves of horses. This is a change from the original proposal. Dane believes it might cause difficulties since the bands are occasionally tightened to inflict discomfort or used to mask maltreatment to the tops of the horses’ feet, which Dane believes could cause problems. The statement came after more than 200 senators and a number of activists applied bipartisan pressure to the Obama administration to tighten laws against sexual assault and harassment before President-elect Donald Trump assumes the presidency in January. However, not everyone was pleased with the verdict. Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration President Mike Inman stated he intends to contest the regulatory action taken against his organization. Based in Shelbyville, Tennessee, the Celebration is the largest Tennessee walking horse show in the country. It attracts more than 2,000 participants. “Of course, one of the options open is to submit a legal challenge, and we are prepared to do so,” Inman added. A Trump government, according to him, may decide to put the regulation changes on hold until they can be examined. We look forward to providing the information that we believe will lead to a different course of action during that review period,” he added. Dane stated that the Humane Society expects Big Lick industry backers to file a legal challenge against the decision, but that the organization is prepared to collaborate with the USDA in fighting back. As a result, Dane and others urged that show owners concentrate their efforts on promoting flatshod competitors, or horses who are not designed to wear action devices, because they already have a naturally beautiful gait. “They will be able to refocus on the actual beauty of the horse rather than artificially enhancing it,” said Tawnee Preisner, founder of Horse Plus Humane Society. “It’s going to remove a lot of the negative connotations associated with Tennessee.” “The slaughter trailers are waiting,” said Sammy and Gayle Cagle, former owners of one illegally sored horse Preisner who was rescued from an auction last year. During the USDA’s comment period, the Cagles warned that their show horses would lose their value if the USDA banned stacks and chains, stating, “The slaughter trailers are waiting.” According to Preisner, the Horse Plus Humane Society is putting plans in place to deal with an inflow of walking horses that may be abandoned at auction. “We will accept any Tennessee walking horse whose owners are unable to maintain them as a result of the new law,” she stated. It is possible that they will not put them into the slaughter pipeline if they truly care about them. As soon as the indications of abuse become too visible to pass inspection, or as soon as young horses prove resistive to harsh training, sored animals frequently wind up at low-end auctions. Horse owners can surrender their horses to the Horse Plus Humane Society, where they will get a tax return for the money they would have earned if they had sold the animals at auction, according to Preisner. The final regulation, according to the USDA, will be published in the Federal Register in the coming days, he added. All of the rule changes will take effect on January 1, 2018, with the exception of one. Ariana Sawyer may be reached by phone at 615-259-8382 or on Twitter at @a maia sawyer.
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Info on Soring

An example of a horse that has been sored is seen below. It is possible to purposely cause discomfort to a horse’s front legs and hooves in order to improve the stride of a gaited horse in preparation for the show ring. Soring is a cruel and unlawful practice.

Mainstream Media on Soring:

There are some excellent films on the subject. The Girl Scouts of America presented its creators with the prestigious Gold Award for their work on See It Through My Eyes. Three senior Girl Scouts from Franklinville, New York, worked together to create the DVD. An individual Girl Scout can obtain the Gold Honor, which is the highest nationally recognized award available.

Isn’t Soring Illegal?

Yes, soring has been prohibited by the federal government since the Horse Protection Act (HPA) was established in 1970 for the first time. More information may be found on the USDA website, which is the agency in charge of executing the provisions of this Act. Is the practice of soring still practiced today? Since 2002, a map depicting 4,000 instances of soring violations by state has been created (Click To Enlarge) Yes, more than 1,000 bans have been granted for violations of the Horse Protection Act in the previous 12 months, according to the latest figures.

  • In order to carry out this enforcement, the USDA receives very little cash, and it can only afford to attend less than ten percent of the exhibitions where Tennessee Walkers and other gaited breeds are on display.
  • Unfortunately, the HIOs who have the greatest “performance” events (in this sector, “performance” refers to padded and plantation shod horses) are also the ones that have the most problems.
  • According to the USDA, if they could afford to investigate every one of the Tennessee Walking Horse events, the total number of Horse Protection Act infractions may reach 10,000 or 20,000 every year!
  • Please contact [email protected] if you would like additional information about this.
  • Horses are subjected to a range of harsh and deceptive tactics in order to cause them pain.
  • Hypodermic syringes are also used to inject potentially dangerous chemicals and medications into the horse’s pastern region above the foot, which is a common practice.
  • Every time the horse walks or puts weight on that hoof, he or she suffers discomfort.
  • This results in an extremely delicate hoof that becomes irritated again after each time pressure from the animal’s weight is applied to it.
  • (This information is accessible on the FOSH website.) What is the method of detecting Soring?

(Click On Image To Enlarge) At horse shows, USDA inspectors use a combination of palpation (pressing on the horse’s pastern to see if the animal flinches in pain) and observation of the horse’s movement, as well as more technical methods such as gas chromography (also known as the “sniffer”) to detect foreign substances and thermography to determine the temperature of the horse’s body during competition (to check for heat from pain.) HIO DQPs (trained inspectors) often rely on observation and palpation to do their inspections.

Without extracting the shoe and employing hoof testers, it is difficult to determine whether or not there is pressure shoeing going on.

SORING is strongly opposed by the FOSH.

Chains, referred to as “action devices,” are fastened to the horse’s pasterns in order to increase the amount of percussion against the pastern, which may be sensitive due to soring.

Class styles such as these are those in which the highest instances of soring may be discovered. However, some “Flat Shod” exhibitors and trainers are increasingly employing the technique of soring to improve their horses’ stride in preparation for the show ring.

What Does “Performance” vs. “Naturally Gaiting” look like?

Take a look at the movement in these films, which are available on the web:

  • Performance gaits may be found at www.twhbea.com
  • Natural gaits can be found at www.howetheywalk.com.

What Can I Do to Assist in the Ending of Soring?

  1. Join FOSH: FOSH is the main organization in the United States dedicated to the abolition of soring. Your membership ($30/year) and any additional donations you are able to make will be put to good use in our campaign. To become a member of FOSH, click here. Become a well-informed customer. You should inquire about the trainer’s training methods, their violation suspension history (which is unfortunately not available at this time), whether they show performance horses, and whether you are welcome to drop by their training barns at any time without an appointment when you are selecting a trainer or purchasing a horse. Examine the horses in their stables to see whether or not they are happy and healthy. Do they come out on a daily basis? Horses who spend a significant amount of time laying down in their stalls, moaning, needing coaxing or whipping to be led out of their stalls, plastic wrap beneath leg wraps, strange substances or equipment in the training areas, and so on are all signs of soring in the stable. Surprise your colleagues by showing up and watching training sessions. Inform yourself on the person’s reputation and history by speaking with well-known sound-horse fans. Take an active role in the cause: Those interested in working on initiatives to stop soring, serving on our Executive Advisory Committee, or even serving on our Board of Directors may contact FOSH at [email protected]. TWHBEA should be contacted at the following address: You may express your feelings on soring by writing a handwritten letter to the Executive Director and President of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed association and telling them what you think about it. As a result, they must take a proactive role in the fight against soring, beginning with reforming their own by-laws to ensure that persons who have committed violations of the Horse Protection Act do not serve on their board of directors. Their annual budget is the most significant of any group dealing in this problem. TWHBEA may be reached at PO Box 286 in Lewisburg, TN 37091. Send the following letter to your federal Congressmen and Senators: As various concerns come to light that necessitate political comment, FOSH encourages people to contact their representatives in Congress and the USDA to express their support for them. If you are a member of the FOSH, we can keep you informed when your participation is required.

Presentation on the Horse Protection Act Listening Sessions. This is a huge presentation (about 28MB in size). Before accessing the file, it is recommended that you save it to your local computer. This is a presentation created using PowerPoint. If you don’t already have a copy of PowerPoint, you’ll need to download the PowerPointviewer from the Microsoft Web site to get started. Please keep in mind that this information comes from the USDA website. To view larger versions of these slides, please click on their respective images.

  • 2008 Public Relations Listing for the FOSH and Anti-Soring Coalition
  • Information on the United States Department of Agriculture and the Horse Protection Act
  • The Scar Rule Proposal
  • And the Soring Fact Sheet Winners who aren’t happy with themselves
  • A Face in the Crowd (please fix the address here)
  • More Than Sore
  • American Horse Defense Fund
  • American Horse Defense Fund OP-Letter of Recommendations from the HPC in 2007
  • Summary of the HIO Teleconference held on August 8, 2006
  • The following are the summaries of HIO teleconferences: July 11, 2006
  • June 13th and 14th, 2006
  • May 9th and 11th, 2006
  • March 14, 2006
  • February 14, 2006
  • January 10, 2006
  • December 13, 2005
  • November 8, 2005
  • October 14, 2005
  • HIO Meeting Summary
  • HIO Teleconference Summary
  • HIO
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The Painful Truth of Horse Soring

How Soring is Done
This inhumane practice is done via chemical or physical means. Both result in pain, which is amplified when the horse’s hoof strikes the ground. This causes the horse to lift his or her legs faster and higher. Chemical methodsinvolve applying caustics (such as kerosene or mustard oil) to the horse’s lower leg and then covering the area with plastic and a leg wrap for several days. As the chemicals penetrate the skin, it causes the horse’s skin to be very sensitive. “Action devices” such as metal chains or rollers are then placed around the pastern. They slide up and down as the horse moves, hitting the pastern and further aggravating the areas already made painful by soring. Physical methods of soring include:
  • The following are the summaries of HIO teleconferences: July 11, 2006
  • June 13th and 14th, 2006
  • May 9th and 11th, 2006
  • March 14, 2006
  • February 14, 2006
  • January 10, 2006
  • December 13, 2005
  • November 8, 2005
  • October 14, 2005
  • HIO Meeting Summary
  • HIO Teleconference Summary
  • H
  • Inappropriate heel/toe ratio due to excessive pad wedging. Metal hoof bands that are put very high on the hoof
  • Adding excessive weight to the pad or box (for example, lead)

Extreme wedging with padding, resulting in an abnormal heel/toe ratio; Over-the-top placement of metal hoof bands on the hoof Adding excessive weight to the pad or box (for example, lead).

Soring is Illegal and Condemned by Professional Organizations

Soring is a criminal offense under federal law. Soring was declared illegal by the Horse Protection Act (HPA), and it is now punished by fines and jail. As a result of this law, sored horses are no longer permitted to participate in shows, sales, exhibits, or auctions. The HPA also forbids the transportation of sore horses to or from any of these events, regardless of the source of the soreness. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS), a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has the responsibility of enforcing the Horse Protection Act.

Undercover Investigation Prompts Action

A recent Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)undercover investigationat a training barn for Tennessee Walking horses led to state and federal criminal charges against nationally known trainer Jackie McConnell and some of his associates. At the time of the investigation, McConnell was under a five-year federal disqualification from participating in horse shows―yet continued to train horses and get them into the show ring. McConnell was charged with felony conspiracy to violate the HPA as well as numerous violations of the Tennessee Cruelty to Animals Statute after being videotapedsoring the front legs of horses with caustic chemicals.Thefootagealso shows horses being brutally whipped, kicked, shocked in the face, and violently cracked across the heads and legs with heavy wooden sticks. The investigator documented the cruel practice of “stewarding”—training a horse not to react to pain during official show inspections of their legs for soreness, by striking them in the head when they flinch during mock inspections in the training barn. The investigation also uncovered the illegal use of numbing agents for the purpose of temporarily masking a horse’s reaction to pain so it can pass official horse show inspections.This investigation has prompted not only afuror of media attentionbut also the federal government to move toward stiffer, mandatory penalties for horse soring and other related violations of the HPA.Performance Tennessee Walking Horses are often fitted with tall “stacks” which change the angle and elevation of the front hooves and legs.Lance MurpheyThrough the years, industry inspectors (part of what are known as “Horse Industry Organizations” or HIOs) cited some trainers for “soring” but penalties were not consistently meted out, and there was therefore no meaningful disincentive to stop the abuse. Between 2010 and 2011, HIOs cited each of the top 20 trainers in the industry’s Riders Cup point program for violations of the HPA—with a total of 164 citations between them. Of the violations recorded, the HIOs only issued penalties for 25 percent, most of which were mere two-week suspensions from showing. Even more disturbing, less than 30 percent of those penalties were actually served and some trainers were allowed to serve multiple penalties simultaneously.On June 5th, APHIS officials announced the release of a final rule requiring uniform mandatory minimum penalties for violations of the federal Horse Protection Act. Under the tougher rules, suspensions for two weeks to three years would bar show participation for violators and would apply not just to trainers, but also to horse owners, exhibitors, transporters and others associated with the horses’ abuse. This announcement provides much-needed improvements in HPA enforcement―finally providing some level of deterrence for lawbreakers. While this is a step in the right direction, federal legislators must amend the HPA to eliminate the industry’s role in enforcement of the Act, close loopholes that violators often slip through, and give the USDA the tools to fully protect these animals.On June 14th, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) called for aban on the use of action devices and performance packagesin the training and showing of Tennessee Walking Horses. HSVMA believes a ban on action devices and performance packages is necessary to protect the health and welfare of gaited show horses.HSVMA urges veterinary professionals to contact their U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators urging them to upgrade penalties in the Horse Protection Act, ban the action devices and performance packages, and require more meaningful enforcement by the USDA to end the abusive practice of soring.


The American Veterinary Medical Association is a professional organization for veterinarians. What exactly is soring? Soring is the unethical and illegal practice of deliberately inflicting pain on gaited horses (such as TN Walkers and Racking horses) in order to exaggerate the leg motion in order to gain an unfair advantage in the show ring. Soring is defined as the deliberate infliction of pain in order to exaggerate the leg motion of gaited horses (such as TN Walkers and Racking horses). For more than four decades, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has banned soring in animals.

CAUSTIC METHODS – entail the application of caustics (kerosene or mustard oil) to the horse’s lower leg.

As a result of this process, the skin becomes extraordinarily sensitive to the touch and exceedingly responsive to action devices and the impact of their hooves on the ground.

Chemical techniques frequently leave visible scars, which can be removed by burning them off with a chemical stripping agent (which causes further pain).

Physical methods typically involve the grinding or trimming of the hoof and sole to expose sensitive tissues or the removal of the normal support structures of the hoof wall; inserting hard objects between the pads and the sole to place pressure on this sensitive area of the hoof; improper shoeing techniques that violate the Horse Protection Act (HPA); and purposefully causing laminitis, which is a painful condition that can be fatal.

Why does the snoring continue?

Aside from that, some judges continue to apply judgment criteria that encourage the adoption of soring tactics.

Finally, because of funding limits, USDA inspectors are only able to attend a tiny fraction of the events that are held.

HPA offenders have historically received light penalty, even when they have been ticketed.

Horse Soring Fact Sheet

THE PRACTICE OF HORSE SORING is the practice of causing pain on a horse’s legs and hooves in order to artificially exaggerate a horse’s stride and win large rewards in contests such as Tennessee Walking Horse competitions. Soring is accomplished by irritating the forelegs and feet with a variety of chemical and mechanical agents, either by injection or application. In an attempt to escape the discomfort in his front feet and lower legs, the “sore” horse grabs them fast, resulting in the “desired effect” of a huge lift, also known as the “big lick,” which is a frequent term in the horse world.

Chemical Soring

Putting acidic materials and irritating chemicals on a horse’s forelegs to cause discomfort in order to highlight his stride during contests for large cash awards is known as chemical soring. Mustard oil, diesel fuel, kerosene, salicylic acid, and other caustic compounds applied to the pasterns, applied to the bulbs of the heel, or coronary bands are examples of agents used in chemical soring, which cause burning or blistering of the horse’s legs. These chemicals are hazardous, very poisonous, and occasionally carcinogenic, to the point that trainers must apply them with a brush and gloves on their hands to avoid contamination.

Mechanical Soring

For example, pressure shoeing occurs when the hoof is cut to the quick and the sole is in direct contact with a pad or shoe, which is called mechanical soring. The horse can then be “road foundered,” which means that he can be ridden up and down hard surfaces on his over-trimmed hooves until he is completely exhausted. Trainers have been known to insert things beneath the pad, such as metal beads, nails, or screws, in order to apply high pressure, however this practice has begun to diminish as fluoroscopy has been used to identify such tactics.

For example, it is widespread in the world of the Tennessee Walking Horse, where horses are sored to execute the “big lick” in order to win large cash awards, such as during the annual Walking Horse Celebration in Nashville, Tennessee.

Signs a Horse Has Been ‘Sored’

It is important for the horse to stand with his feet close together so that his weight is distributed evenly between his hind legs. Visible granulation tissue or scarring can be seen on the pasterns and coronet band. The presence of wavy hair growth or hair loss in the pastern region is noticeable. The hair on the horse’s pasterns is darker than the hair on the rest of the horse’s body. Horses tend to carry their hocks low and may twist them outward as they are going forward. The horse prefers to lie down for long periods of time and has difficulty getting back to its feet.

The horse has difficulties walking and is at risk of collapsing.

It’s Against the Law

A federal legislation in the United States, the Horse Protection Act of 1970 (HPA), codified at 15 United States Code sections 1821–1831, declares soring to be a felony punishable by both civil and criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

However, it is often disregarded, and it is only very seldom enforced when necessary. The legislation was passed by the 91st Congress of the United States and became effective on December 9, 1970.

HPA Summary

SORING is defined as follows in the Horse Protection Act (HPA), which was passed by Congress in 1970: “(A) an irritating or blistering agent has been applied, internally or externally, by a person to any limb of a horse,” “(B) any burn, cut, or laceration has been inflicted by a person on any limb of a horse,” “(C) any tack, nail, screw, or chemical agent has been injected by a person into or

Further Information

For more information on the Horse Protection Act, please see the following online resources: (1)(2)(3)(4)

Additional Resources

In addition, see the photographs and commonly asked questions»

All Fact SheetsFAQs

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