Undercover Video: The Barbaric World of Horse Soring

Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 4:00pm

Guest blog post from Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations.

"Every walking horse that enters into a show is sored. They've got to be sored to walk. There ain't no good way to put it, but that's how it is.”

These were the words of Barney Davis at his sentencing hearing in a Chattanooga, Tennessee, federal court on February 27 after being found guilty of soring horses. Last night our friends at the Humane Society of the United States released horrific undercover footage showing horses being whipped, kicked, shocked in the face, burned with caustic chemicals, and violently cracked across the head and legs with heavy wooden sticks. These are just a few of the barbaric training methods used in the walking horse industry.

What Is Soring?
Soring is a training technique that is even worse than it sounds. Painful chemicals and other devices are used to cause such agony to a horse’s front limbs that any contact with the ground makes the horse quickly jerk up his or her leg. Soring is done to elicit “the big lick,” a high-stepping gait prized and rewarded at horse shows. And it gets worse. To hide their cruelty, trainers also do what they euphemistically call “stewarding”—beating and inflicting even greater pain to the horses so they don’t react poorly during inspection.  This brutality, as captured in HSUS’ footage, masks the fact that trainers are soring the animals. It sounds impossible that this practice continues, even when showing sore horses is banned by the Horse Protection Act (HPA).  This practice is violent and abusive—and we will not tolerate it.

What Is the USDA Doing about It?
Last year, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors had the resources to attend just 62 of approximately 700 walking horse shows nationwide. In addition, although the USDA promised in March to release rules that would take an important step toward enforcing the ban of these unethical and cruel practices, they have failed to do so.

While the USDA drags its feet, the 2012 walking horse season is well under way. It’s time to finally take the power out of the hands of criminals! Contact your legislators today and urge them to speak out against soring and demand improvements to the 40-year-old Horse Protection Act.

Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to use your voice to help these under-protected animals.

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Why? Do we REALLY need to be cheaply entertained so badly?

Katherine Springer

Truly disgusting and reprehensible that anyone would even consider doing this to a helpless creature. Walking horse shows should be banned, and anyone who commits this practice should be prosecuted and receive a stiff punishment.

Maria Rola

For reasons like these I feel the industries that exploit animals for uneccesary entertainment shouldn't be allowed to do so. Humans are supposedly superior; better. Yet we can't manage to find ways to amuse ourselves with havin animals in circuses & in poodle hair styling contests. It's ridiculous. The cruelty of human beings as a species, is greater than any other...&if you ask me, were actually the least humane species of all. Were blessed with the faculties and abilities to be better than that, but our arrogance & ignorance overrides. It saddens me; I'm ashamed


This is a horrible way to treat or attempet to train,Shame on anyone who is to try this they should never see the light of day.

Rev. Sherry Nev...

I firmly believe people that do this kind of thing should be locked up forever. We need to start geting tough on these animal cruelty laws and show offenders we mean what we say and put an end to this. I am really tired of seeing things like this. You can pray for people like this, but that doesn't mean action shouldn't be taken. Enough. It needs to end.

Lori Martinez

I am not surprised. MAN seems to destroy all the beauty in their path on this planet, for pleasure and/or profit.

Susan Pateracki

It makes me sick that creating so much pain for horses is what makes them do the high stepping. I am so sick of people that are evil. When will they stop hurting animals.


It's ridiculous that the organizations sponsoring these events won't police themselves of the few bad seeds that make the entire industry seem corrupt. These animals have the ability to supply the sought after high stepping gaits, raised tails beautifully positioned heads, etc. for our enjoyment without these cruel tricks. Shame on Lazy and Cruel trainers for not spending the time it takes and trying to show animals that simply are not suited for the show ring.

Although, we should oppose additional legislation and more USDA inspectors, it won't help unless the USDA begins to teach the show sponsoring organizations to police themselves.


What makes us the masters over another living creature.....the shame we should feel for letting this abuse happen. Do we really need to see these gentle animals doing things against their nature. Appreciate them as they are and treat them with respect.


Soooo why are you angry at the people who do this again? The USDA should have stricter rules and ENFORCE them if you really want to see changes. The same thing can be said about people who breed dogs and have puppy mills. They're going to keep on doing it as long as it's allowed. It makes people money and people want money.