The true celebration will be when we end horse soring

The 75th Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee on August 29, 2013. HSUS.

Take action to eliminate horse soring and “big lick” animal cruelty. Elizabeth Fite, reporting for the Times Free Press writes:

The biggest competition for the Tennessee walking horse breed begins Wednesday in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

For some, the 11-day Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration — often called the Celebration — embodies the best of the breed and its traditions. For others, it’s tainted by the cruel practice of horse soring — when humans intentionally injure horses’ hooves or legs to make them step higher, creating an artificial gait known as the “big lick.”

Soring became illegal in 1970 and is not allowed at the Celebration. However, the current law doesn’t prohibit stacked shoes, chains or other “action devices,” and those will be used on horses at the Celebration in classes where the high-stepping “big lick” is still coveted.

Horse soring "stacks" on the front hooves of a Tennessee Walking Horse at Big Lick competition. HSUS.
Horse soring “stacks” on the front hooves of a Tennessee Walking Horse at Big Lick competition. HSUS.

Yes, horse soring and the “big lick” is still coveted by a minority of cruel people who continue to perpetuate horrific cruelties against the beautiful and gentle Tennessee Walking Horse. Together, let’s bring it to a final end.


There is a bill pending before Congress that will wipe out horse soring once and for all.

The House version of the bill recently passed by an overwhelming 333-96. The Senate version of the Bill — S.1007 — is pending right now awaiting further action.

Tennessee Walking horse watches worriedly during horse soring inspections, part of an undercover operation by HSUS. Photo: HSUS.
Tennessee Walking horse watches worriedly during horse soring inspections, part of an undercover operation by HSUS. Photo: HSUS.


Contact your two U.S. Senators in Washington D.C. and urge them to cosponsor and make an unwavering commitment to the passage of S.1007, the bill against the cruel practice of horse soring for Tennessee Walking Horse competitions.

Go to to contact your U.S. Senators online. Prefer to telephone? The Capitol switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.  Go here for further information »

The Times Free Press article includes:

Clant Seay and the advocacy group Citizens Campaign Against “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty have peacefully protested outside the Celebration for the last four years.

Seay founded the group and regularly documents examples of “big lick” horse abuse on his blog,, and Facebook page, which has more than 11,000 followers. One of his latest videos is of 2-year-old walking horses wearing weighted shoes and chains and displaying the “big lick” at a show on Aug. 3.

“Calling attention to illegal and abusive activity is every citizen’s responsibility. Animal cruelty is not a tradition just because it has been going on for more than 50 years,” Seay wrote in an email. “To say that this is a ‘tradition’ is just a propaganda technique. Nor is this an ‘industry’ any more than cockfighting or dog fighting is an industry.”



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The 75th Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee on August 29, 2013. By HSUS.

Nashville Vote on Soring Ban Tonight

Horse soring "stacks" on the front hooves of a Tennessee Walking Horse at Big Lick competition. HSUS.


Effort to Stop Animal Cruelty Secured an Overwhelming Majority of Lawmakers in Congress Voting for Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act

NASHVILLE, TN, USA, August 6, 2019 / — The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 693, by a vote of 333 to 96. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville), joined U.S. Reps. Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville), and Steve Cohen (D-Memphis), in bipartisan fashion voting for the measure that would end six decades of abuse. In a spirited debate on the House floor, Reps. Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper), and John Rose (R-Cookeville), represented the pro-soring coalition against the PAST Act in defense of the “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty that’s exhibited annually at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville.

Caslon Quote Left BlackI have tried to persuade the walking horse industry to clean up its act for many years and have given it a chance to stop the scandals.” —U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper

Tonight, the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County is set to vote on a measure to ban the same soring devices as the PAST Act – large stacked shoes and ankle chains utilized to create the “Big Lick” soring ‘tradition’ that’s plagued the state and the Tennessee Walking Horse breed for six decades. Soring is the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ front limbs by applying caustic chemicals such as mustard oil or kerosene or inserting sharp objects into the horses’ hooves to create the exaggerated gait known as the “Big Lick.” The council’s measure, led by Councilwoman Kathleen Murphy, comes on the heels of the historic U.S. House vote on July 25th.

“We applaud Reps. Jim Cooper, Tim Burchett, and Steve Cohen, and Councilwoman Kathleen Murphy for their courageous and historical stand against the scourge of soring that’s marred the state and Tennessee Walking Horse for sixty years,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action and past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association. “These Tennessee heroes have sent a strong message to the U.S. Senate and pro-soring coalition that obstructionist tactics to keep the soring ‘tradition’ alive will not prevail.”

Priscilla Presley, U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Holly Gann, and Marty Irby on Capitol Hill Discussing the PAST Act.
Priscilla Presley, U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Holly Gann, and Marty Irby on Capitol Hill Discussing the PAST Act.

“I have tried to persuade the walking horse industry to clean up its act for many years and have given it a chance to stop the scandals,” said Rep. Jim Cooper in a letter to constituents. “Congress has lost its patience. The public wants horses protected.”

The PAST Act, led by U.S. Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Ted Yoho (R-FL), cochairs of the Congressional Veterinary Medicine Caucus, was cosponsored by 308 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis), and its Senate companion, led by U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Mark Warner (D-VA) has garnered 43 cosponsors in the Upper Chamber.

Like Murphy’s measure, the PAST Act would ban the use of painful large stacked shoes and ankle chains, but would also eliminate the existing system of self-regulation by the industry, and toughen penalties for violators of the Horse Protection Act and is supported by Animal Wellness Action, the American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, United States Equestrian Federation, National Sherrif’s Association, and Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association

The PAST Act has been blocked in Congress for the past six years by U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander, and Marsha Blackburn, along with DesJarlais, but the new House Rules in the 116th Congress created a pathway for any legislation that’s reached 290 cosponsors (2/3 of the House) to receive a vote.

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The Animal Wellness Foundation (Foundation) is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability. We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver. We are advocates for getting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper. We also support policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering. We believe helping animals helps us all.

Animal Wellness Action (Action) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies and we work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.

Marty Irby
+1 202-821-5686
email us here
Visit us on social media:

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Featured Image / Stacks — HSUS (not filed with this Press Release)

Roy Exum: Soring Will Still Thrive

Horse soring "stacks" on the front hooves of a Tennessee Walking Horse at Big Lick competition. HSUS.

We quote the following from Roy Exum’s column of yesterday. Exum, who has covered the horse soring issue for some years from his home base of Tennessee for The Chattanoogan, states what appears to be patently obvious to many, sometimes even us.

It’s about the future of the anti horse soring bill in the U.S. Senate. We have already warned our readers that Sen. Blackburn (TN) and Sen. McConnell (KY) will do all the ugly they can to make sure the Senate version of H.R.693 (S.1007) is defeated — and that’s a whole lot of ugly. Powerful ugly. We didn’t mention Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN) (we thought we had enough evil to contend with without listing him), but Exum doesn’t ignore Lamar like we did.

Exum writes:

Last week, after four tries having been blocked every year in Congress to “Prevent All Soring Tactics,” the PAST Act made it through Congress in a rousing “beat your chest” fashion. Where it takes a two-thirds vote to proceed to the Senate, Congress voted 333-96 on the bill (HR693). Oh happy day! That was the overwhelming response after the House of Representatives roll call on Thursday.

Then we go to Skopos Labs, a firm that claims they are experts in “automated predictive intelligence” to learn … what’s this? The Senate bill for the PAST Act has 40 co-sponsors which doesn’t mean diddley. When House Bill HR693 came to a vote last week, among the 96 members of Congress who voted against it were Tennessee Republicans Phil Roe, Chuck Fleischmann, Scott DesJarlais, John Ross, Mark Green, and Davis Kustoff. Isn’t that peculiar? As a matter of fact, the Tennessee “bloc” has long embraced the “dirty lickers” with the lone exemption being Tim Burchett.

Tennessee’s two Senators are far worse. Years ago Lamar Alexander got saddled up with Steven B. Smith who agreed to be the treasurer of his campaign. Hello! Steven B. is the head of the dirty lickers and there is vivid proof that Lamar and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell have accepted hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions from the dirty lickers.

Chuck Fleischmann and Scott DesJarlais have also been generously awarded by dirty lick contributors. A cross match of dirty lick contributors who “support” Chuck and Scott will make you start laughing. But, in my opinion, the all-time Queen of Dirty-Lick Corruption is our newest Senator, Marsha Blackburn.

Marsha has accepted more “benevolence” from the dirty lick than you would believe, and, when you track her government-mandated financial disclosures from the time she was first elected to the House until she began her impassioned role as a Senator, her investment prowess boggles the mind. I’m talking nothing short of genius on a Congress woman’s pay.

Don’t you see? I thought the upper reaches of the United States Congress and Senate were beyond reproach. Several years ago the law enforcement officers in Maryville, Tn., where there is a Lamar Alexander Boulevard, caught a known dirty licker — Larry Joe Wheelon — at his worst. There were photographs, testimony, irrefutable evidence and … hello … Larry Joe never went to trial.

Blessed with such a den full of elected representatives, do you in your wildest dreams think the PAST Act will get through the Senate? I’ve been following the charade like a bloodhound but with Alexander, Blackburn, and McConnell lusting for the day they can once again champion the torture of horses, neither the Senate bill nor humane horse-sense stands a cut dog’s chance.

Read Exum’s full column here at The Chattanoogan »

It will be a dog fight for sure with the odds stacked heavily against us. H.R.693’s companion bill in the Senate, S.1007, has 41 cosponsors as of this writing. We would like to see at least 60 to give us a fighting chance, but that might be all it gives us. 72 would be much better so long as no one changes their mind. Can we possibly do it?

Check here to see if your two Senators have already cosponsored S.1007. If not please contact them via and ask them to please cosponsor S.1007 and vote yes when the time comes.

Be prepared to tackle this again with us after the August recess.

Thank you.

HSUS Image

U.S. House overwhelmingly approves anti horse soring bill

Racks of used stacked pads using in the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses and other gaited horses in the showring.

By an overwhelming vote Thursday, July 25, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill aimed at putting a stop to the intentional cruelty of Tennessee Walking Horses known as “soring”.

H.R.693, The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, won approval by a margin of 333 to 96 votes. Known as the PAST Act, the legislation amends the 1970 Horse Protection Act. See how they voted here.

If the bill becomes law, it would ban large stacked shoes and ankle chains used on horses, heighten penalties for violations and expand the Department of Agriculture’s enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.

Tennessee Walking Horse with stacks and chains, part and parcel of Big Lick animal cruelty.
Tennessee Walking Horse with stacks and chains, part and parcel of Big Lick animal cruelty.

Soring is the unethical and illegal practice of deliberately inflicting pain to exaggerate the leg action of gaited horses (such as Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses and Racking Horses) to gain an unfair advantage in the show ring.

The Tennessean reports, “Yoho said he recently had a lengthy conversation with prominent representative of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. Yoho said the representative told him the pads aren’t proportionally any heavier than the watch the congressman wears on his wrist.”

“That’s probably true,” Yoho said during the conference. “But there’s a big difference .  .  .  . I choose to wear this watch. That horse doesn’t have an option, and when people do these things to the horses to win a blue ribbon, I think it’s unconscionable. So you’re either for animal abuse or you’re against it.”

Before we move on, let’s talk a bit about “stacks” and how much they can weigh.

The Horse Fund states:

The use of pads and stacks fall into the category of what’s called mechanical soring.  “Stacks” up to 5 inches high and filled with a variety of substances for added weight, are attached to the front hooves, causing the horse to stand perpetually in an elevated, unnatural position. This type of shoeing causes chronic, constant pain. Heavy plantation shoes weighing up to 5 lbs. are also used.

During USDA inspection “stacks” or stacked pads have been found to weigh anything from 5 to 10 lbs held in place by chains or metal clamps.

Stacked pads held into place with metal bands used on gaited horses for Big Lick animal cruelty in show rings.
Stacked pads held into place with metal bands used on gaited horses for Big Lick animal cruelty in show rings.

Here’s what the AVMA and AAEP say about it:

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.

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.

Senate Bill 1007

This legislation must still win Senate approval, where it faces an uphill battle. U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn have sponsored competing legislation.

The Senate version of our bill S.1007 currently has 40 cosponsors. If your U.S. Senators are not on that list, please contact them asking them to please cosponsor S.1007 at their earliest opportunity.

Clant Seay (Billy Go Boy)

While we are so very grateful to the lawmakers who have spearheaded this bill and accomplished this winning vote in the House, the biggest thank you of all must go to the tireless and unflagging Clant Seay of Concerned Citizens Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty (CCABLAC), the hard fighting hero of the sored horse.

We leave you with a video taken by Mr. Seay, just in case you have never witnessed what a sored horse looks like in the show ring. It is heinous and abusive, and anything but beautiful. It is criminal.

2016 “Big Lick” World Grand Champion “Honors” Canter – Asheville NC


Bill meant to prevent mistreatment of Tennessee Walking Horses passes in U.S. House (by Andrew Wigdor and Matt Reynolds, USA TODAY NETWORK and Medill News Service), July 25, 2019 »

Use of Action Devices and Performance Packages for Tennessee Walking Horses, AVMA, Undated »


Equine Veterinarians Praise Passage of Anti-Soring Legislation in U.S. House, AAEP, July 25, 2019


• H.R. 693 (The PAST ACT), All Actions »
Contact Your U.S. Senators here to Cosponsor S.1007 »


Clant Seay at Billy Go Boy Chat »


Horse Soring Fact Sheet »
Horse Soring Images »

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