To say horse soring is hideously cruel seems like the grossest of understatements.
You may have already visited YouTube to see “Big Lick” horses in competitive action. We have, many times, but it never stops being nauseating.
The video you are about to see, recorded by Clant Seay on the first day of the three day “Big Lick” walking horse show being held right now at Maury County Park in Columbia, Tennessee, features two year old mares and geldings — yes, that’s right, baby horses.
Following a brief introduction by Clant, you can see the horses about 1:13 minutes in.
What is Horse Soring?
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. Caustic chemicals—blistering agents like mustard oil, diesel fuel and kerosene—are applied to the horse’s limbs, causing extreme pain and suffering.
A particularly egregious form of soring, known as pressure shoeing, involves cutting a horse’s hoof almost to the quick and tightly nailing on a shoe or standing a horse for hours with the sensitive part of his soles on a block or other raised object. This causes excruciating pressure and pain whenever the horse puts weight on the hoof.
Soring has been a common and widespread practice in the Tennessee walking horse show industry for decades. Today, judges continue to reward the artificial “Big Lick” gait, thus encouraging participants to sore their horses and allowing the cruel practice to persist.
Types of Horses
Tennessee walking horses, known for their smooth gait and gentle disposition, commonly suffer from the practice of soring. Other gaited breeds, such as racking horses and spotted saddle horses, also fall victim.
Fear and Pain
The life of a sored horse is filled with fear and pain. While being sored, a horse can be left in his stall for days at a time, his legs covered in caustic chemicals and plastic wrap to “cook” the chemicals deep into his flesh. In training barns where soring takes place, it is common to see horses lying down in their stalls, moaning in pain.
Whenever the horses are ridden, in training or competition, trainers put chains around the horse’s sored ankles. As the horse travels, the chains slide up and down, further irritating the areas already made painful by soring.