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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I have never seen anything so cruel in my life. Someone told me to get a Walker because I have had so much spine surgery. If I never ride again because of my be it. I will ride in Heaven someday. I don't need that on my concience...a horse was tortured for my smooth ride. NOT.

Sonya Walker

Not all of them are trained this way. They have a naturally smooth gait without this.

Tina McCadden

This just disgusts me! People who would do these things have no respect for life. Torture .... so now we know, now we need to make these events illegal. We don't allow people to continue to hurt people, we should not allow this sport to continue.

Elaine wilkins

Disgusting! People that can hurt animals for any reason are also capable if hurting people! Sick!

Stephanie Miller

These kinds of things happen all over in every event and discipline. Race horses run their heart out just to brake their leg in the very end. Is anyone doing anything about that? They still fire the legs. Smarty Jones had what it looked like mosquito bites all down his cannon bone. I don't think that tickles. Where there is money and politics there is torture. Isn't the human race grand?

charlie murphy

What Barney Davis said is a lie .They are not all sored that enter an arena.They are naturally gated horses and some are sored to gain that exagerated walk.It doesn't have to be this way.You can tell the character of a man by the way he treats his animals.

georgie lin

First of all this is disgusting and terrible. However a lot of people in the Walking/Saddlebred industry do NOT do this. This has been screamed about for the last 40 yrs - and every year too.

Why cant the SPCA and other overseeing organizations deputize inspectors so every show gets covered, and also must be sanctioned or licenses that this practice does not go on. Every entry must be inspected and if proven that these horses have been sored chemically - or other means - they cannot show.
The public needs to put pressure on each show and organization. Lip Service is just crap. DO SOMETHING...


I hate most people most of the time but theses sorry excuses for humans need a bullet to the brain !!!! Sorry but true

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