Take action against Big Lick Animal Cruelty

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

HORSE SORING — Calling all advocates against horse soring. Please help sored horses by joining a protest, signing a Petition against it and contacting federal legislators to endorse the PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act which will close the loopholes in the current law exploited by “Big Lickers”.

What is Horse Soring?

Horse soring is a painful practice used to accentuate a horse’s gait in competitions for big prizes. This is accomplished by irritating the feet and forelegs through mechanical irritants or the injection or application of chemicals.

• Chemical Soring

Chemical soring involves using agents such as mustard oil, diesel fuel, kerosene, salicylic acid, crotonal or croton oil, collodion, and others, on the pasterns, bulbs of heel, or coronary band of the horses.

The resultant burning or blistering causes the horse to snatch up his front legs, accentuating his gait.

These chemicals are harmful, toxic and sometimes carcinogenic. Trainers must use a brush and wear gloves when applying them. The area may then be wrapped in plastic while the chemicals are absorbed.

Image from 2015 HSUS Horse Soring Investigation.
Image from 2015 HSUS Horse Soring Investigation.

• Mechanical Soring

Mechanical soring can be just as painful chemical soring. Stacks up to 5″ 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.

Known as “action devices,” chains worn around the pasterns can range from the mildly annoying to the extremely painful. Alone, the six-ounce chains accepted in the show ring may not harm the horse, but horses sored with heavy chains or chemicals prior to the show date can suffer intense pain in the ring as the lighter chains repeatedly bang against the sore area.

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. Photographer unknown.
Horse soring radiograph. USDA image.
Horse soring x-ray. Some 49 nails were used to hold the pads together on this Tennessee Walking Horse. USDA image.

New Methods

The above are the most common examples. However, over the years more types of soring designed to be harder to detect have been invented. So the treachery and cruelty surrounding these beautiful and gentle animals continues and all to win big prizes in brutal and ugly competitions.

Horse Soring in Action

Protest

If you are willing to protest horse soring at an upcoming event, please text Clant Seay at 662-380-3367 for further information such as locations and meet up times. Contact him right away. There may be one near you soon. Bring your friends. T-shirts for everyone!

Petition and Support the PAST Act

• Go here to sign the Petition »

• Go here to learn how you can support the PAST Act, H.R. 1847 »

FEATURED IMAGE
The Big Lick performed at the 75th Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee on August 29, 2013. HSUS image.

Walking horse group successful with new rules

Tennessee Walking Horses competing with stacks.

Cross-posted from WBIR TV

When legislation to toughen federal protections against horse soring gained momentum last year, opponents said the proposed rule changes would decimate their walking horse show industry.

But a Murfreesboro-based walking horse group says it has found a way to thrive regardless of what becomes of those stiffer rules.

Dee Dee Miller, president of the Walking Horse Owners Association, said entries for its sanctioned shows across the country nearly doubled from 2012 to 2014. The number of shows were up, too.

“The popularity is just growing by leaps and bounds,” Miller said. “We just create a good time and a good place where everybody feels welcome and equally and fairly treated.”

But spectators at WHOA shows won’t see horses wearing the special shoes and metal chains that are a common sight in padded performance show rings. They’re not allowed.

Only flat-shod horses — those without materials between the hoof and shoe — are welcome to compete, Miller said. The proposed Prevent All Soring Tactics Act included a universal show ban of the pads and action devices that are used to artificially enhance the gait of a horse.

“We saw that we couldn’t be profitable with performance padded shows, but we had a great niche in the flat-shod industry,” Miller said. “If the PAST Act passes and the pads and chains were gone, the industry and the Tennessee walking horse breed will certainly survive.”

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Roy Exum: Our sored Walkers weep

Cross-posted from The Chattanoogan »
By ROY EXUM

ROY EXUM. Source image.
ROY EXUM. Source image.

I believe the United States Constitution is our most precious document. I also believe in order for us to live in the way that so many who have died for our country dreamed we would someday, we must cherish the Constitution, uphold it, and glory in it.

That established, the Constitution just broke my heart.

Tammy Harrington, a circuit court judge in Blount County, has just ruled Larry Joe Wheelon’s rights under the Fourth Amendment were violated by a search warrant in an April 2013 raid on his barn.

On that day 19 horses were seized, some so badly abused by caustic chemicals the animals could hardly walk. The evidence was overwhelming but Judge Harrington’s ruling on Friday means the 70-year-old Wheelon will soon walk as a free man rather than serve any punishment for very obvious soring practices he uses to make Tennessee Walking Horse dance a sickening step called the “Big Lick”.

Forget that the repeated delays in the judicial process of the Wheelon trial have cast a curious cloud over the Blount County Courthouse. Never mind that last summer, while awaiting trial, Wheelon was ticketed once again by USDA inspectors for violating the federal Horse Protection Act as he has done so many times in his checkered past. What matters is that the Constitution is the supreme law of the United States and must be followed to the letter.

While “sound horse” disciples across America are wincing over Judge Harrington’s decision, and animal advocates see the Wheelon case as a mockery of true justice, the fact that horse soring is so rampant in Tennessee leads to the belief it is just a matter of time before dedicated law enforcement officers nab the next closed-door barn monster.

Larry Joe Wheelon. Photo: The Daily Times.
Larry Joe Wheelon. Photo: The Daily Times.

Judge Harrington, who knows far more about our laws than I do, ruled Friday that some “undercover” visits by a federal agent before the warrant was issued violated Wheelon’s rights and said there were also some credibility issues with an affidavit that supported the search warrant. “It is never an easy decision,” the judge told the court, “and I understand the issues may be politically charged. However, that never takes the place of the Constitution.”

I believe Judge Harrington misspoke when she talked of “issues that may be politically charged.” Politics has little to do with animal abuse. A trainer either abuses a horse or does not. It could be she was referring to Blount County, where the courthouse fronts Lamar Alexander Parkway.

Alexander, a U.S. Senator who is leading opposition to the “Prevent All Soring Tactics” bills now coursing through the Senate and House with a watered-down bill, is a known supporter of the “Big Lickers,” a shady group out of Shelbyville intent on preserving the dirty side of the horse industry.

The better truth is the “Big Lick” is killing the Tennessee Walking Horse, its gentle reputation and its noble heritage. Public perception of the gross pads, the tight chains on horses’ hooves and barbaric practices to “pain” a horse so it will lift its agonized front legs higher in an unnatural gait, is scathing. While “sound” horse shows are thriving, some venues are banning Big Lick horses.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is in the process of elevating animal abuse to a Level One crime, placing it as a top priority with crimes like murder, extortion, and financial fraud. The FBI believes anyone who will hurt an animal may morph into the next Jeffery Dahmer and, by next February, indicates it will actively pursue those who have gained world-wide notoriety for soring horses.

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Horse Soring Bills
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Oppose S. 1161, the Lamar Alexander bill »

Horse Slaughter and Horse Soring Bills

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Ayotte, Warner reintroduce legislation in Senate to prevent horse soring

Stacked shoes of a sored Tennessee Walking Horse. HSUS image.

Cross-posted from the August Free Press »

U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Mark Warner (D-VA) today reintroduced legislation to protect horses from the abusive practice known as soring – in which show horse trainers apply blistering or burning agents, lacerations, sharp objects, or other substances or devices to a horse’s limb to intentionally make each step painful, forcing a horse to perform an exaggerated high-stepping gait that is rewarded in show rings.

Sens. Ayotte and Warner originally introduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act in July 2013 to prevent soring, an inhumane training practice that continues despite being prohibited under federal law.

Joining Senators Ayotte and Warner as cosponsors of this legislation are Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Gary Peters (D-MI), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and David Vitter (R-LA).

In 2010, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General conducted an audit of the federal Horse Protection Program, which found that show horse trainers often go to great lengths to evade federal law prohibiting soring and requiring them to train horses using humane methods. The USDA Inspector General made several recommendations, including establishing stiffer penalties and abolishing the self-policing practices currently allowed under existing regulations, in which Horse Industry Organizations are able to assign their own inspectors to monitor horse shows.

“Whether riding, racing, hunting or training, horses have been a part of Virginia’s culture for 400 years,” said Sen. Warner. “However, owners and breeders from across the Commonwealth agree that the deliberate act of inflicting pain on horses has no place in modern equestrian competition. Senator Ayotte and I are proud to reintroduce the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act to give USDA the tools it needs to crack down on horse soring and end this cruel practice once and for all.”

“Soring is inhumane, and this bipartisan legislation takes an important step toward stopping this abusive training tactic that intentionally inflicts pain on horses,” said Sen. Ayotte. “I will continue to work across the aisle to protect horses from this cruel practice.”

Continue reading at the Augusta Free Press »

RELATED READING

1. S.1121 — A bill to amend the Horse Protection Act to designate additional unlawful acts under the Act, strengthen penalties for violations of the Act, improve Department of Agriculture enforcement of the Act, and for other purposes.

2. Soring bill advocates blame Blackburn, McConnell for lack of action; Tuesday’s Horse

3. Horse Soring FAQ’s; http://www.horsefund.org

4. Billy Go Boy Chat — Tennessee Walking Horses — The “Lickers and the Flatters”

5. Will we ever really get rid of the horrible abuse of horse soring?; Tuesday’s Horse