Horse Soring

Major veterinary groups call for ban on action devices, performance packages in Tennessee Walking Horse Industry

AVMA, AAEP believe devices are used in the inhumane practice of soring

Horse Soring
Example of Horse Soring. Image not filed with this Press Release.

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., June 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) today called for a ban on the use of action devices and performance packages in the training and showing of Tennessee Walking Horses.

These devices and packages are implicated in the practice of soring, which is the abusive act of intentionally inflicting pain to accentuate a horse’s gait.

“Soring has been an illegal act for more than 40 years. Nevertheless, increasingly shrewd and more difficult to detect—yet equally painful—methods of soring continue to plague the Walking Horse Industry,” said Dr. Rene A. Carlson, President of the AVMA. “America’s veterinarians are asking USDA-APHIS to prohibit the use of action devices and performance packages in the training and showing of Walking Horses, because they appear to be facilitating soring,” Dr. Carlson added.

“The soring of Tennessee Walking Horses is an extremely abusive practice and it must end,” said AAEP President Dr. John Mitchell. “We urge a modification to the Horse Protection Act so that all action devices and performance packages are banned.”

Following is the veterinary groups’ joint statement:

    Begin Statement
    AVMA and AAEP Position on the Use of Action Devices and Performance Packages for Tennessee Walking Horses

    The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners support a ban on the use of action devices and performance packages in the training and showing of Tennessee Walking Horses.

    Action devices used in the training and showing of Tennessee Walking Horses include chains, ankle rings, collars, rollers, and bracelets of wood or aluminum beads. When used in conjunction with chemical irritants on the pastern of the horse’s foot, the motion of the action device creates a painful response, resulting in a more exaggerated gait. Foreign substances are being detected on the pastern area during pre-show inspections at an alarmingly high rate, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. While there is little scientific evidence to indicate that the use of action devices below a certain weight are detrimental to the health and welfare of the horse, banning action devices from use in the training and showing of Tennessee Walking Horses reduces the motivation to apply a chemical irritant to the pastern.

    The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), the national governing body for equestrian sport in the United States, disallows action devices in the show ring for all recognized national breed affiliates. The AVMA and the AAEP commend the USEF for this rule and urge the USDA-APHIS to adopt similar restrictions for Tennessee Walking Horses.

    Performance packages (also called stacks or pads), made of plastic, leather, wood, rubber and combinations of these materials, are attached below the sole of the horse’s natural hoof and have a metal band that runs around the hoof wall to maintain them in place. Performance packages add weight to the horse’s foot, causing it to strike with more force and at an abnormal angle to the ground. They also facilitate the concealment of items that apply pressure to the sole of the horse’s hoof. Pressure from these hidden items produces pain in the hoof so that the horse lifts its feet faster and higher in an exaggerated gait.

    Because the inhumane practice of soring Tennessee Walking Horses has continued 40 years after passage of the Horse Protection Act, and because the industry has been unable to make substantial progress in eliminating this abusive practice, the AVMA and the AAEP believe a ban on action devices and performance packages is necessary to protect the health and welfare of the horse.
    End Statement

Both the AVMA and the AAEP are committed to ending soring and assisting in the return of the walking horse’s gait to its natural beauty. In 2008, the AAEP released its white paper, “Veterinary Recommendations for Ending the Soring of Tennessee Walking Horses,” which suggested several radical changes to the current structure of the industry. The AVMA’s “Soring in Horses” webpage contains extensive material on soring, including an educational video, backgrounder, factsheet, a link to the AAEP white paper, information about the Horse Protection Act from USDA-APHIS, and links to related articles in the news. Additional resources can be found at

Source: PR Newswire (

8 thoughts on “Major veterinary groups call for ban on action devices, performance packages in Tennessee Walking Horse Industry”

  1. Thank you goes out to theses veterinarians who are speaking out and helping to bring a ban to the cruel practices. I’ve always greatly admired the Tennessee Walker but had no idea there was such cruelty being carried out by trainers. The owners should give these trainers the heave ho and fast.


  2. Yes Peggy !!!!! I would like to call them , Tennessee Healers, when I met her she was Never Broken, and very shy of all people, for some reason in just 3 weeks she warm ed up to me, I think she sensed I needed her, She was with 5 other walkers that were broke, somehow she evaded the owners tries, she didnt even have a halter , he said he couldnt catch her !!!!her beautiful mane was matted really bad , but she wouldnt let anyone groom her, her hoofs were aslo bad….within 2 months she was haltered , groomed and the farrier was able to fix her hoofs, her mane told forever to unmat but finally I did it, it is long and awesome , thought we would have to cut the mats out , but thanks to spray and time ,and her patience with me….. wha la magnificent !!!! She is in the process of being trained, she no longer is afraid…… she is doing wonderful…….and so am I !!! Through her love and patience we are both doing great !!! So that is why I love that breed so much…….Ohhh one last thing , my husband died at only 44 yrs old I thought my life was over until the Beautiful Pitch Black wild walker came into my life !!!!


  3. OMG !!! Just realized the Beautiful Angel Horse who saved my soul and my life , is a Tennessee Walking Horse !!! She has a gait that is so Magnificent, and she has never been touched,,,,,,,,,,,, You know I love all Horses but especially the Walking horse !!!!! i am so thrilled something is being done for them……..


    1. “Yes the TN Walking Horse is MAGNIFICENT in every way kind ,gentle, beautiful, graceful and I have two of them one 6 and one 4 ….Both registered and bought before kill buyers got them they are the my angels as well. One of them stood over an injured friend protecting him until he got help!!!!!!!!!!!!MAGNIFICENT does not say enough!


  4. It’s about time that something be done…..I am 53 years of age and have been around TN.Walking Horses since the age of 11 or 12 at age 16 I worked at a walking horse barn that was owned by a Dr. Luton from Alabama he had trainers at this barn that had to have been the most cruel and inhumane pieces of shit I’ve ever known …I would not allow them to touch my horse and needless to say I soon caused problems in their corrupted world….Thank you to all of the veterinarians involved in taking the first steps to end this horrible abuse to these beautiful kindhearted animals….TN. Walking Horses are know for their wonderful and sweet dispositions NO horse deserves cruel torturous treatment they are there to be creatures of NATURAL beauty and loved as our companions and pets…….To Jackie McConnell and all to the worthless scum bags in the Walking Horse industry I hope you all get whats coming to you!


  5. This should have been stopped 40 years ago but no one stepped forward to say enough is enough. Jail terms for any person caught crippling up these horses, arrested on the spot no matter where that is. Animal cruelty charges filed and prosecuted as a felony.

    In 2010 Alaska passed a law that anyone caught committing cruelty to a animal will be charged with a felony on the first count. This law needs to be passed in every state. No more slaps on the wrist with a wink and a nod while the perpetrator puffs out their chest a free man/woman and walks out of the courtroom do it all over again.


  6. Call me a cynic, but it’s about time these organizations stepped up on behalf of the HORSES instead of the abusers. Let’s hope they do more than issue a press release.


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