Horse Soring 2019 Year in Review

Image from 2015 HSUS Horse Soring Investigation.

Horse “soring” is when humans intentionally injure horses’ hooves or legs causing them so much pain they step higher in an exaggerated gait prized in “Big Lick” show rings.


January 22, 2019

A strong team of bipartisan lawmakers reintroduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives (U.S. House) to end the cruel practice of “soring” Tennessee walking horses and similar breeds, H.R.693.

H.R.693 is identical to the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act that attracted overwhelming bipartisan cosponsorship from 290 representatives and 46 senators in the previous Congress. The only difference is the title.

The bill has been newly entitled the “U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act”.

January 25, 2019

H.R.693 referred to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce by Committee on Energy and Commerce.

April 3, 2019

S.1007, companion bill identical to H.R.693, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID). Read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.


April 19, 2019

Footage released to Animal Wellness Action from a horse owner in Alabama shows despicable and even gruesome mistreatment of horses who are the victims of “soring” — the practice of intentionally injuring the foot and lower legs of horses to achieve a high-stepping gait in horse shows known as the “Big Lick.”

The horse owner identified Joseph Abernathy as the farrier that “pressure shod” the horse by driving hot nails into the part of the hoof where it is known to be the most painful. When the owner found this horse, he was barely able to stand and drenched in sweat despite 40-degree temperatures. The horse’s muscle enzymes became elevated which led to renal failure.

See Press Release »


May 14, 2019

U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn, both Tennessee Republicans, have introduced legislation they say will protect Tennessee walking horses and the breed’s tradition. However, the truth of the matter is that they are continuing to shield long-standing abusive practices within the horse soring — or “Big Lick” industry.

Alexander and Blackburn’s bill, called the Horse Protection Amendments Act of 2019, would update the Horse Protection Act of 1970 and mirrors a House version of the bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn. The three have supported similar bills in the past aimed at blocking true anti-soring legislation — the PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act — which was first introduced in 2014.


May 23, 2019

Motion to place H.R.693 on U.S. House Consensus Calendar filed by Mr. Schrader.

July 19, 2019

H.R.693 assigned to U.S. House Consensus Calendar, Calendar No. 3.

July 24, 2019

H.R.693, bipartisan legislation that promises to end the inhumane practice of horse soring (which became illegal in 1970 but persists due to loopholes in the current law) garnered enough support to receive a vote in the U.S. House, culminating with 307 cosponsors.

The U.S. House Chair announced the Speaker’s designation, pursuant to clause 7(a)(1) of rule 15, of H.R.693 as the measure on the Consensus Calendar to be considered this week.

Mr. Schrader moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended. Considered suspended under the rules.

The U.S. House proceeded with forty minutes of debate.

At the conclusion of debate, the Yeas and Nays were demanded and ordered. Pursuant to the provisions of clause 8, rule XX, the Chair announced that further proceedings on the motion would be postponed at 10:44 p.m.

July 25, 2019

1:52 pm. H.R.693 considered as unfinished business.

1:59 pm. H.R.693 passed the U.S. House 333-96. Roll call vote no 510 (See

This victory marks the first time Congress has moved to strengthen laws against soring since the practice was first banned, states Congressman Ted Yoho. Read more at


August 2019

Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association encourages members to contact their U.S. Senators to urge them to sign on as cosponsors of the PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act (S.1007), stating that on the heels of the recent victory in the U.S. House of Representatives, it is important to keep the momentum going to help pass this critical legislation into law. S.1007 has 31 cosponsors at the time of writing.


Citizens Campaign Against “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty advocates rally on the courthouse lawn at the Shelbyville – Bedford County Town Square. NewChannel 5 WTVF-TV (CBS) Nashville, and the Times Free Press (Chattanooga) newspaper covered the historic event.

The group protested outside the grounds of the Celebration several other nights throughout the competition, which ran through Saturday, Aug. 31.


September 5, 2019

On Saturday, the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville crowned its “Big Lick” World Grand Champions — Rodney Dick and “I’m Mayhem.” Although he’s been a serial violator of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) for decades, Dick was allowed to compete on the main stage for a shrinking and increasingly uninteresting event.

It turns out that Dick has very recent violations of injuring the feet of horses — a practice known as horse “soring” — but USDA still allowed him to compete.

Dick will serve a federal suspension for violating the HPA beginning October 1st — with the punishment conveniently taking effect after he got to show his horse at the industry’s main event. The consent decision that Dick agreed to with USDA was signed on December 20, 2018, and it’s a travesty that the suspension was delayed for nearly nine months to allow him to appear at The Celebration so that he was able to participate in the high-profile showring event.

Poor enforcement and delayed sentencing seem to be the new normal at USDA. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and his own Office of Administrative Law Judges have agreed to dozens of consent decisions with serial violators of the Horse Protection Act. Some of the key players in the industry have been cited but their suspensions don’t take effect until 2022! Justice delayed, as the old saying goes, is justice denied.

Read More »

Natalie Jackson-Pritchard shows the horse Champagne Watchout in the World Grand Championship class on the final night of this year’s Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, held in Shelbyville, Tenn., on Saturday night. Champagne Watchout was the only flat-shod (wearing no pads) horse to compete in the class.


September 5, 2019

Attendance at Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration fell to a shocking 50 year low — fewer than 25,000 actual attendance (persons occupying seats at the Celebration events).

Based on eye-witnesses and photographs, the 2019 Celebration attendance was under 25,000 for the ten (10) nights of the event.

A lifetime Celebration patron said, “A ten night event has essentially now become a one night horse show.” The 2019 Celebration actual attendance was paltry, except for the first Saturday and the second Friday and Saturday.


September 11, 2019

ALL top three Celebration Trainer BOYZ — Mr. Rodney Dick, Mr. Herbert Derickson and Mr. Gary Edwards — are about to go on USDA Federal Suspension for alleged “HORSE SORING” (“Big Lick” Animal Cruelty to “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Horses), along with the Walking Horse Trainers Association “Trainer Of The Year”, Mr. Phillip Trimble, it sure looks like the whole bowl is chock full of “bad apples”. Seay reported earlier on Rodney Dick (see above).

World Grand Champion “Big Lick” Trainer BOYZ Mr. Rodney Dick upholds “Tennessee Tradition” of going on the USDA federal suspension list for alleged “horse soring” shortly after the conclusion of this year’s Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. (via Clant Seay /


September 15, 2019

A network of local citizens, referred to as “Theta Net” provided Mr Seay’s publication with classified information that the “Big Lick” World Grand Champion — “I’m Mayhem” — was going to arrive under a veil of secrecy at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, September 13, 2019, for the express purpose of Trainer BOYZ Mr. Rodney Dick exhibiting him at the Tennessee State Fair at 7:00 p.m. sharp.

Then, for whatever reason, “I’m Mayhem” was not exhibited, and a truck and trailer hauled him back to Finish Line Farm at Unionville, Tennessee, which is a suburb of Shelbyville. (via Clant Seay /


September 25, 2019

Almost 5,000 persons have signed a Change.Org Petition in the past three days asking 36 year old Mayor Chaz Molder to take down a picture of a “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Horse that he approved being hung in the Columbia City Hall in mid-August 2019.

Molder had approved City Manager Tony Massey hanging a picture of a “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Horse on the wall at Columbia City Hall about 30 days ago. (via Clant Seay /


October 17, 2019

The “TWHBEA Chickens” all came home to roost on Friday, October 17, 2019, when the 2019 TWHBEA Director Election Results were posted on the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders & Exhibitors Association Facebook page. The key statistic is the number of “Ballots Mailed” — 3,027.

“This number conclusively proves that the continued decline and demise of TWHBEA (TN Walking Horse Registry) is solely due to it being in the clutches of the ‘Big Lick’ Animal Cruelty Racket”, writes Clant Seay.

In 2013, there were 6,955 TWHBEA members. The dramatic loss of 3,923 persons is a 56% decline in voting eligible members since 2013.

Seay contends, “The shocking decline of TWHBEA can be directly laid at the feet of Mr Steve Smith and his close associate Mr. Walter Chism. They totally own this disastrous situation. They took over TWHBEA in December 2013 thinking that they would go back to the ‘Big Lick’ glory days. They were 100% wrong.”

TWHBEA is denied membership in the prestigious American Horse Council. (via Clant Seay /


October 20, 2019

The city of Columbia, TN chooses the “right side of history” by removing a picture of a “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Horse from City Hall wall. (via Clant Seay /


December 30, 2019

S.1007, the U.S. Senate version of the anti horse soring PAST Act (identical to H.R.693), closes the First Session of the 116th Congress with 51 cosponsors.

View Cosponsors here »


Clant Seay reminds everyone that it’s not “a few bad apples”; rather the entire barrel of apples is rotten.

The “Big Lick” is no better than dog fighting and cock fighting. All who practice or support it are guilty because animal cruelty is absolutely necessary to create and maintain the “Big Lick” gait.

Horses do not have a voice, so we protest for them until “Big Lick” animal cruelty no longer exists.

“I have never been more proud of the Citizens Campaign animal welfare advocates, and all the people throughout America and around the world who support them, than I was this year at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. “WE, The People” — CCABLAC are clearly winning for ‘The Horses’. It’s truly heart warming to experience.”

(via Clant Seay /

Clant Seay is the founder and leader of “Citizens Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty” and a major mover and shaker in the campaign to eliminate horse soring.


What You Can Do

Senators Mitch McConnell and Marsha Blackburn will be employing their full arsenal of tricks to defeat S.1007 and keep the “Big Lick” alive.

They can be defeated, but it will “take a nation”. We are that “nation”.

Contact your two U.S. Senators today and ask them to cosponsor and remain steadfast in their support of S.1007 by promoting and voting for its passage.

Need help? Get it right here on Tuesday’s Horse.

Thank you everyone.

Let’s get rid of “Big Lick” animal cruelty

Image from 2015 HSUS Horse Soring Investigation.

Back in June, Clant Seay, the champion of sored horses, wrote a special for the Columbia Daily Herald entitled “Walking Horse competition is not sport.”

We quote liberally below:

The “Big Lick” is animal cruelty.

Native Tennessean, MTSU Horse Science professor and equine veterinarian Dr. John Haffner said, “The “Big Lick” is a pain induced gait — it is a business built on the suffering and pain of horses. The fact is the big lick can only be accomplished by ‘soring.’ When one soring technique becomes detectable, another one is developed. The Big Lick is a learned response to pain, and if horses have not been sored, they do not learn it.”

Legendary Tennessee sportswriter David Climer said: “For years, many of those involved in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry have yearned for its competitions to be taken seriously as a legitimate sport. Blood sport, yes. Legitimate sport, no. Soring is still in common practice, and everybody knows it. Soring is a means to an end — a high-hooved prance produced via pain and abuse. An irritant is applied here, an abrasive chemical rubbed there. The sadistic trainers even develop ways to keep the tortured horse from reacting when the hoof is inspected.”

Previously Daily Herald Editor James Bennett referred to Tennessee Walking Horse shows as a “sport,” blaming the problems of the “Big Lick” on a “few greedy competitors.”

It’s not “a few bad apples; rather the entire barrel of apples is rotten”.

The “Big Lick” is no better than dog fighting and cock fighting, Seay continued. All who practice or support it are guilty because animal cruelty is absolutely necessary to create and maintain the “Big Lick” gait.

The Tennessee Walking Horse breed was hijacked about 50 years ago. It’s now time to end the “Big Lick” forever and allow the Tennessee Walking Horse breed to regain its destiny.

We couldn’t agree more.

Mr. Seay and his group, “Citizens Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty” (CCBLAC) were instrumental in the major success of H.R.693 (the U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2019 or the PAST Act), passing the U.S. House with a vote of 333-96.

It’s companion bill, S.1007 currently has 49 cosponsors with bipartisan support just as the House bill did.

Achieving 51 would be a majority of the Senate but this may not be enough as the bill has powerful enemies, including Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and sinister Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn.

So you can see why the bill requires as many cosponsors in the Senate as we can possibly win. McConnell and Blackburn will be employing their full arsenal of tricks to defeat S.1007 and keep the “Big Lick” alive.

How You Can Help

Do you know who your two Senators are? See if they have cosponsored S.1007. If they have you are good right now, but we’ll need you again later.

For the rest of us, please make a phone call to your U.S. Senators’ offices who have not yet cosponsored S.1007. You can call them via the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Or you can contact their offices directly. Look up their office numbers here.

Ask to speak to the Aide working on S.1007. Identify yourself as a constituent. State the purpose of your call —  that you wish the Senator to cosponsor S.1007, the PAST Act. Give your reasons why. We like to write our reasons down before we pick up the phone so we don’t leave anything out. Be sure you have given the Aide your contact information before you hang up.

Alternatively, you can contact your Senators’ via the email form listed in the Senate’s online directory.

Need talking points? Get them from The Horse Fund’s stakeholder’s page at Sign up with POPVOX and starting interacting with your lawmakers immediately.

Remember that we may have powerful opponents on the Hill, but we have power too. We vote our elected officials in and out of office.

Quote of the Day

I'm Mayhem competing in the 2017 Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration.

It’s not “a few bad apples”; rather the entire barrel of apples is rotten. The “Big Lick” is no better than dog fighting and cock fighting. All who practice or support it are guilty because animal cruelty is absolutely necessary to create and maintain the “Big Lick” gait. Horses do not have a voice, so we protest for them until “Big Lick” animal cruelty no longer exists.

— Clant Seay


Contact your two U.S. Senators and ask them to please cosponsor S.1007 — The PAST Act.

Calls are superior. The Capitol Switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. The operator will put you through. Have the name of the Senator you are calling ready!

Not super comfortable about phoning? That’s okay. Our experience is that the following online legislative service is every bit as good. Perhaps even better!

Take action via PopVox. All you need to sign up is an email and password. Your message to your lawmakers is guaranteed seen and counted! Not sure what to say? Get talking points on S.1007 on The Horse Fund’s PopVox Stakeholders Page »

Don’t want to phone? You don’t need to. POPVOX will deliver your message directly to your lawmakers. Guaranteed! No kidding.

It’s great using our talking points but please add how you feel personally about this issue. That really gets lawmakers’ attention.


Clant Seay is the founder and leader of  Citizens Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty and the main mover and shaker behind the success of the House version of this bill which passed 333-96. Learn more at Clant Seay’s website » See Clant Seay’s Facebook page here »

I’m Mayhem competing in the 2017 Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration. Photographer unknown.

Urgent! Contact Congress on these horse bills

Capitol Dome Washington D.C.

Horse Slaughter & Horse Soring

Urgent! There are two federal bills pending in Washington D.C. requiring immediate attention. They are:

(1) The anti horse slaughter bills — H.R.961 and S.2006 (SAFE Act); and

(2) the Senate version of the anti horse soring bill — S.1007 (PAST Act). Note: the House has already passed this bill 333-96.

Our Goals

(1) A minimum of 290 cosponsors in the House for H.R.961 (SAFE Act).

290 is the magic number of cosponsors we need to take advantage of the Consensus Calendar rule which will allow a Bill to bypass Committee and go straight to the House floor for debate and vote.

It is critical that we do everything we can to get those 290 cosponsors on the horse slaughter bill, and quickly. We may never have a better chance than the one we have right now.

(2) 60+ cosponsors in the Senate for both S.2006 (SAFE Act) and S.1007 (PAST Act).

Will you help? Take action by phone, or online. It’s all laid out for you below including talking points.

Calling Congress

Generally speaking, the most effective way to contact Congress is by telephone.

The Capitol Hill Switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. 

Not sure who to call? Find who represents you at

If you have no interest in phoning, scroll down to “Not Crazy About Phoning?” on how to take action online that’s fast and guaranteed.

The Bills + Talking Points

Why should our federal legislators cosponsor and vote for these bills? Here are some talking points to help you put together what you would like to say. When calling, remember to refer to bills by their alpha-numeric title.

Horse Slaughter — H.R.961 & S. 2006 (SAFE Act)

Tens of thousands of American horses are shipped each year to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for human consumption — a practice that 80% of American voters oppose.

American horses are not raised for food and routinely given a wide range of medications that are expressly prohibited for use in meat products.

Phenylbutazone (commonly known as “bute”) is a painkiller used legally by more than 85% of US horse owners to treat everyday soreness and inflammation, is banned completely in food-producing animals.

Even so, the problem of horses and burros being butchered for human consumption persists because “kill-buyers” can legally purchase horses at auctions or from unsuspecting owners in order to transport them to slaughterhouses across US borders.

Horse slaughter being a predatory business, various regulatory agency ID documentation systems for slaughterbound horses, including “passports” showing a horse’s origin and medical history, have all miserably failed.

The problem of tens of thousands of American horses being shipped to slaughter across our borders has persisted for far too long, despite overwhelming public opposition to this practice.

The negative food safety and animal welfare concerns associated with the horse slaughter industry are simply too great to continue to ignore.

The US has a moral obligation to outlaw the slaughter of horses for human consumption and prevent unsafe horse meat from entering the human food chain.

Horse Soring — S.1007 (PAST Act)

Horse soring still runs rampant even though laws have been on the books banning this cruel practice for decades.

S.1007 will strengthen and improve current regulations by allowing the USDA to step in since self-policing has flat out not worked over the last 20 years.

It’s companion bill passed the House overwhelmingly by a vote of 333-96.

The PAST Act is an easy, bipartisan solution that every Member of Congress should be able to get behind.

The PAST Act is supported by the American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, United States Equestrian Federation, National Sheriff’s Association, and the veterinary medical associations from all 50 States.

Not Crazy About Phoning?

Don’t want to phone? You don’t need to. POPVOX will deliver your message directly to your lawmakers. Guaranteed! No kidding.

No worries. We’ve got you covered. Or should we say, POPVOX does. POPVOX connects advocacy groups and the public to Congress.

POPVOX will deliver your message directly to your lawmakers. Guaranteed. All you need is to sign up with an email and password, and you can immediately start weighing in on legislation important to you. No need to keep finding your legislators. You will have that information always at your fingertips with POPVOX.

What you have to say not only goes on record with your legislators but can also be viewed by others interested in the same bills you support or oppose. POPVOX helps you keep track of the bills you are for and against. You can follow your bills’ progress, and get updates.

We contacted POPVOX co-founder, Rachna Choudry, asking for her input too.

POPVOX co-founder Rachna Choudry.
POPVOX co-founder Rachna Choudry.

When advocates ask me about what’s the most effective way to communicate with your lawmakers, I say in-person is the best, and then a call or POPVOX. The key is sharing a personal story about why the issue is important to you or your community. It’s easy to do that in-person, of course, but sometimes it’s more challenging on the phone.

Unlike a petition site, POPVOX allows you to write a personal letter to your lawmaker about a specific issue — but enables you to share that letter with others to inspire further action. It’s a record of your engagement on the issue, and you can then link to it with your friends or on social media.

POPVOX is also integrated with the House Democrats’ intranet system, DemCom, so not only does your letter get delivered to the appropriate Congressional office, but it is also available for staffers to read in their intranet system. (We don’t have that integration with the House Republicans because they don’t have a similar system.)

How about that?

So don’t delay. Contact your Representative to cosponsor H.R.961, the SAFE Act, and both your Senators to cosponsor (1) S.2006, the SAFE Act plus (2) S.1007, the PAST Act. Get on your phone and call or weigh in on these urgent horse protection bills via POPVOX.

And yes you can call about both bills in a single call. You don’t need to make individual phone calls for them.

If you are looking for talking points, check out The Horse Fund’s Stakeholders’ page at

Thank you everyone.


•  Calling Congress. Learn how to make phone calls to your legislators that get results, The Horse Fund.

Find out who represents you at Gov.Track.US.

Go to POPVOX.COM and sign up for their unique constituency services.
Go to POPVOX.COM and sign up for their unique constituency services.