Tennessee Walking horses watches worriedly from stall. HSUS image.

Tensions high as inspectors take crackdown to heart of the walking horse industry

Celebration Novice Walking Mares or Geldings. Photo credit: Alyson Wright.
Look at this image. Looks at the lead horse’s eyes, head carriage and body language. Look at the unnaturally high-stepping action of the horses behind. How can anyone believe that these horses either have not been sored and/or cruelly manipulated. How can anyone not be able to imagine the torturous training methods that have gotten these horses to this competition. Scene taken from the Celebration Novice Walking Mares or Geldings. Photo credit: Alyson Wright (click to enlarge).

Winky Groover, of Shelbyville, is a trainer who is willing to talk about the past and the future.

He believes that on the whole, the breed draws more spectators than any other horse events. But he thinks to keep that going, he and his fellow trainers and walking horse owners have to convince the government and the public that soring is over.

Excerpt by PAM SOHN from the Times Free Press

Read full report, view video >>

The individuals who sore horses to win competitions may be even more loathsome than the ones who abuse racehorses to win. One thing they both have in common, depending on how you look at it, is out-and-out lying or entrenched denial full of self-justification regarding their cruel exploitation of horses. The result is that the gruesome suffering they inflict goes on decade after miserable decade.

Look at the picture above. How Groover expects the government or the public to believe that soring and other abusive manipulations is over or on the way out defies description. Individuals who sore horses, apply caustic chemicals, attach stacks and other contraptions to horses hooves and ankles or drive nails up into the tender part of their feet to inflict pain, have done it for so long — in some cases from generation to generation — think it is acceptable, normal.

In the case of Groover, he sounds just like spokespersons for the American horse racing industry who say the same thing: we need to convince the public our sport is clean and all our horses are treated well.

It is this sort of entrenched denial that blocks any sort of change for the better, and the reason why “bleeding heart advocates” refuse to listen any longer and call for the outright ban of these abusive “sports”.

Federal legislation by way of the Horse Protection Act, although enforcement has recently been stepped up because of the glare of media scrutiny, has failed miserably to stop horse soring and related cruel practices. Even with that, the Tennessee Walking Horse industry itself make and break one promise after another resulting in little to no change.

The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and all events like it should be expressly prohibited. For myself, I do not see how anyone who loves or cares about the welfare of horses can really see it any other way.

Read related report, view video >>

20 thoughts on “Tensions high as inspectors take crackdown to heart of the walking horse industry”

  1. These horses should be shown & Judged for their natural abilities..not this phony big lick gait induced by pain & discomfort from artificial means..I see nothing commendable in watching horses move in this totally un-natural over exaggerated gait that is nothing more than a response to discomfort..


    1. Agree totally Kathy.

      It has always struck me as unnatural, contrived and definitely hideous and ridiculous looking to be honest compared to what the people in the sport claim is an accomplished trait. No accomplishment or sport there, just abuse and pain, yet again at the hands of pompous humans.

      Really, just look at how absurd it all is…those idiots in black tuxes (or whatever they wear) prancing around on their puppet horses. Incredibly ludicrous. There is absolutely nothing “natural” or “beautiful” about this obscene spectacle.

      I personally think it is ugly, in this form. Looks like something out of some macabre and misguided theatrical flummox.



  2. Barbara ……Thank you for the kind words….Let’s all be advocates for these beautiful helpless animals…..Not only for the abused and tortured at the Walking Horse Shows, but the Horses that are rounded up needlessly, the horses everyday that get sold because people No longer want them then transported for hours and days living their last days without food or water only to face a horrific death through slaughter….It’s time we all do everything and anything we can to HELP, and HELP and HELP somemore!!!! It’s 2012 the suffering for these beautiful animals need to STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  3. Wink Groover and Trainers DON’T just convince the Government we all know they can be corrupt as well…………Not to say they are but convince those of us that know what you do and LOVE our HORSES ………..Convince yourselves that this is WRONG and Just STOP this whole ugly act of torture and abuse….If in fact you are a new and Saved man…..God would not harm these precious creatures and one day you will have to answer to him…….Right now you are all working for the devil and as far as the animals and me are concerned they are living in HELL ….AND IT IS SO WRONG!!!!!!!!..SO CONVINCE US……..FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO DO IN LIFE THAT IS GOOD !!!!!!!!!!!!


    1. The TWH Industry is hiding behind lies and public relations in order to continue using horses the way they would use and dispose of an old pick-up truck. Soring, stacks, chains, and disgusting owners and trainers, are a product of GREED. The rest of America doesn’t believe one word out of their mouths.
      We support the Humane Society, the USDA, and the Vet groups trying to put a stop to the horrific abuse of these beautiful animals. They can attack the Humane Society and ask them to release “hotline complaints” all they want. Maybe they are finally running scared. Outside help is important and many of us on the East Coast that have relatively little contact with horses want this stopped NOW. NOT IN ANOTHER 40 YEARS. The ABC TV video has unleashed a strong group of Internet followers not from Tennessee!
      The town of Shelbyville may believe their nonsense, but the rest of us will continue to write emails and contact the authorities to let them know we want these people arrested and put in jail.
      The only way to stop it will be for the money to go away, the BIG LICK to disappear, and jail time for owners with their face on national television for all to see!


  4. Make NO mistake if one calls himself a TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE TRAINER or anyone showing with a Trainer or so call stable hands or scape goats or barn flunkies… NO DOUBT in my mind they are using something to harm the innocent animal…Along with soring comes beating and any type of abuse you can think of….These are angry ignorant people that have zero compassion for life of any kind!


  5. Reblogged this on polopaula and commented:
    This is front and center in importance to Animal Advocates. There is a response from the Groups that want to keep the status quo, against the HSUS and ASPCA with lies and threats. It is important that animal lovers and particularly those that understand horses, call for support of the new inspection rules and strict enforcement of penalties against those trainers, riders, and owners who are guilty to soring.


  6. mpclark
    Here is my response……Winky Groover is so full of SHIT and these horse trainers are the most lying ,ruthless,low life greedy poor excuses of humans I know….I had a horse at the barn were Winky Groovers father worked as a trainer I have never known anyone that was as greedy and cruel as he was he had fallen on hard times and would have done anything to make a buck ……He was at the barn with another trainer known by the name of Dean Byard who was wanted by U.S.Marshalls for stealing and transporting across the borders…..I had to move a horse a beautiful bay in the middle of the night because word of the Wink and Dean stealing horses…….I moved him at 2 o’clock in the morning……..I have been in the Walking Horse world never placing ..I was there everyday riding thinking all of the hard work would pay off and would not allow the soring or horrible things to be done to my horse…….Well guess what????????? My horse did NOT HIT THE SO CALLED “BIG LICK” and never would…..I remember sitting in a horse’s stall name DECON a beautiful Black Stud Horse the trainer for that horse was a man named Pete Sanderson he work for a Dr.Luton from Alabama…..Pete took Decon from the stall he could hardly walk I stood there crying , Decon did not want to walk because of the pain so Pete walked Decon over to a tree and put his head against it while he spurred him with blood gushing from his side cussing and angry continued to abuse this innocent animal…….I was 17 years old, I reported it to a local Veterinarian nothing was done this took place in 1975 …All I knew to do was comfort the horse and I sat in his feed box in the stall petting him and giving him treats to take his mind away form the pain…….NO ONE listened to a young girl that weighed 90 pounds……..I cried and yelled and even told the horses owner ….Nothing was done!
    I would testify in front of anyone and God that these are lying, ruthless, evil, money driven people in an industry that will do ANYTHING I mean ANYTHING to pad their pockets…….And the spectators that like this type of entertainment would probably think pit bull fighting was great as well….There is NO difference!!!!!….The industry needs to SHUT DOWN forever and the SHOWS need to end and the Barns shut down FOREVER!!!!!!!! As far as Winky Groover having been saved and a new man good for him I’m glad he found the Lord……..As,far as believing his lies about that he has stopped the abuse and wants to be a spokesperson…….I think he is as crooked as the rest of the low life IDIOTS and a lying piece of dirt!!!!!!!!!!Winky Groover if you read this call me!


  7. Those clod- hopper shoes need to be pulled off at all shows so the inspectors can see what is under them and if anything is found and I don’t care what it is the trainer needs to be arrested for animal cruelty on the spot. Without that your wasting your time. I’m wondering just how many trainers would start edging toward the door if that was done without their knowledge before hand. These horses live their entire lives in absolute terror and then in the end are subjected to the last terror of all, the slaughter plant.


  8. Pleasure horses are not immune either.. I’ve seen many trainers tying horses heads up all night so that they will carry their heads low the next day..


  9. The saddle horses are abused too to get their high stepping gaits as well as Arabians for some classes. Finally putting ginger into the rectum’s of Arabs has been prohibited.
    Even dressage horses are abused to get them to hold their heads “right”.


    1. So very sad. We are NOT IN THE DARK AGES anymore. All this abuse towards these magnificent animals must STOP. They have NATURAL BEAUTY.


      1. polopaula, I have been to many dressage shows. Not true of all the horses of course.
        My youngest daughter showed her horse in Pony Club dressage shows and youth dressage shows. Yes, there are some trainers of every kind of horses that abuse them. Just go behind the scenes at shows and walk thr. the barns. Then go report what you see.


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