Horse whisperer speaks up for sored horses

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

WVLT-TV reports that American Horse Trainer Monty Roberts has reaffirmed his commitment to end soring as Tennessee Walking Horse events prepare to resume.

Soring is the act of intentional infliction of pain to a horse’s legs or hooves in order to force the horse to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait.

Roberts, known as “the man who listens to horses,” has been teaching others a natural, non-violent method of training horses.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Larry Edwards, Hall of Fame Tennessee Walking Horse trainer, said. “That filly started out scared to death, trying to climb over the pen and when he finished with her, she was as gentle as she could be.”

Join Monty Roberts

On July 25, 2019, the United States Congress passed H.R.693 — The PAST Act — 333-96. The PAST Act abolishes the use of “stack and chains”, central to horse soring.

This victory marks the first time Congress has moved to strengthen laws against soring since the practice was first banned.

The Senate version of bill has yet to make it to the floor for a vote. Vivian Farrell of the Fund for Horses urges everyone to please join Monty Roberts in pressing for the passage of S.1007.

“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”.

Visit the Fund for Horses website to learn what steps you need to take. Scroll down to S.1007 — The PAST Act.

Learn how to make phone calls that get results here.

Check status of S.1007 at Congress.gov. As of this writing, S.1007 has 51 cosponsors.

NOTE: The Tennessee Walking Horse’s 82nd Annual Celebration is scheduled for August 26th – September 5th, 2020.


Fund for Horses Logo

Updated with take action links May 26, 2020.

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 POPVOX.com. 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


TAKE ACTION

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

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 »

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

The horrors of horse soring aren’t limited to the show ring

See My Magic, a 13 year-old Tennessee Walking Horse, peers out the window of his stall in unicorporated Pierce County near Roy, Wash. on March 27, 2016. A week later a horse trailer drove up and took him away. Enforcement authorities will not comment. (photo © Karen Ducey Photography)

Horse soring is the intentional infliction of excruciating pain on a horse’s front hooves and lower legs causing them to “snatch up” their front legs in an exaggerated gait called the “Big Lick” prized in Tennessee Walking Horse competitions. It is a vicious and ugly business.

These highly painful treatments are applied not only on competition days, but also throughout the horse’s entire competitive career.

The article opens with:

Have you seen See My Magic?

The 13 year-old Tennessee Walking Horse named See My Magic whose handling outraged horse lovers around the world, was calmly loaded into a trailer behind a pickup truck and driven to an undisclosed location last week on the morning of April 4th, neighbors report. Pierce County Animal Control, which has been involved in this case since 2012, would not give any details.

The chestnut-colored horse had been locked in a stall for at least two years wearing angled performance shoes several inches high, according to owner Ted Taylor of unincorporated Pierce County near Roy, Washington. Animal News Northwest first reported this story in January 2016.

See My Magic, a Tennessee Walking horse, stands on stacks, or angeled performance shoes, in his stall in Unicorporated Pierce County near Roy, Wash. in the spring of 2015. This breed of horse is famous for their parallel gait resulting in a smoth ride. Many owners accentuate this gait with action devices such as chains, the high angled shoes, and painful chemicals. These horses are kept in stalls while wearing the shoes because they would trip and injure themselves if let outside. See My Magic never has his shoes taken off. Pierce County Animal Control reported they see no indication of soring. (photo © Karen Ducey Photography)
See My Magic, a Tennessee Walking horse, stands on stacks, or angled performance shoes, in his stall in unicorporated Pierce County near Roy, Wash. in the spring of 2015. This breed of horse is famous for their parallel gait resulting in a smooth ride. Many owners accentuate this gait with action devices such as chains, the high angled shoes, and painful chemicals. These horses are kept in stalls while wearing the shoes because they would trip and injure themselves if let outside. See My Magic never has his shoes taken off. Pierce County Animal Control reported they see no indication of soring. (Photo © Karen Ducey Photography)

*  *  *  *

When See My Magic‘s story broke online, it created a furious storm across the country through every social media outlet available. Online fundraisers, together with private donors, pitched in and raised more than $20,000 in an attempt to buy the See My Magic‘s freedom. The owner would not sell, couldn’t sell — the horse himself being the evidence of the owner’s laundry list of criminal abuses.

Not surprisingly while all this was going on, the horse’s owner, Pierce County Animal Control, and local and national Tennessee Walking Horse associations remained predictably silent.

“Through it all,” the report states, “See My Magic continued standing — silent and isolated — in his stall, occasionally peering out through the barred window at the rainy world beyond.”

The Dodo reported that See My Magic had not been out of his stall “for years”.

“We suspect the horse has been in the stall for more than three years and possibly even four years without ever having been let outside,” animal activist Nicki Callahan, who lives about 50 miles away in Seattle, told The Dodo.

See My Magic, a 13 year old Tennessee walking Horse, remains locked in a stall in Roy, Washington on March 27, 2016. (photo © Karen Ducey Photography)

Suddenly, on Sunday, April 3rd, See My Magic was loaded up and driven off, never to be seen or heard of again.

What happened to See My Magic? Our guess is he was likely killed or sent to slaughter. Dead horses leave a trail. Slaughtered horses do not. They are turned into meat and other products. So slaughter would be a highly useful way for the horse’s now highly notorious owner to get rid of him.

See My Magic was living, breathing evidence of Ted Taylor’s illegal activities and law enforcement’s failure to enforce the law.

HELP

Horse soring is not just about the abuse and suffering of walking horses competing for ribbons in show rings.  It is about the ongoing mental and physical suffering from beginning to end, during training and competition.

There is a bill pending before Congress, the PAST Act of 2019, that will stop horse soring dead in its tracks. It has passed overwhelmingly in the U.S. House 333-96. It now needs to pass the Senate — an even sterner challenge — difficult but not impossible task, with your help.

TAKE ACTION

Will you give 10 to 15 minutes of your time right now to contact both of your U.S. Senators and ask them to cosponsor S.1007 (the PAST Act of 2019) to help Tennessee Walking Horses and put an end to the abominable practices associated with horse soring?

You can do it online very easily in a few easy steps: 1. Draft your message, 2. Find your two U.S. Senators’ contact forms online, 3. Copy and paste your message into the message box. 4. Hit send!

Your message should include, “Please cosponsor and commit yourself to voting for S.1007, the PAST Act of 2019, which will eliminate horse soring, an abusive, highly painful and sometimes crippling training regimen, used to exaggerate an already naturally, beautiful high stepping gait, for competitions.”

Find and Contact Your U.S. Senators at Senate.gov. There are drop down boxes so you can sort by State or alphabetically.

Some senators post e-mail addresses on their websites while others post comment forms. When sending e-mail to your senator, please include your return postal mailing address. It identifies you as a constituent.

TELEPHONE

Alternatively, you may phone the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.

THANK YOU

S.1007 currently has 46 cosponsors. It needs 60+ to have any chance of getting onto the Senate Floor for a vote.

Thank you in honor of See My Magic and all the other horses who have suffered so much through the cruel and vicious practice of horse soring.