If you think all show horses are pampered and well cared for, think again. Many Tennessee walking horses, known for their distinctive gait and willing natures, are subjected to a cruel practice known as soring—the intentional infliction of pain to their feet and legs to produce an exaggerated gait known as the "Big Lick."
The Tennessee walking horse is bred for its smooth, natural gait—the running walk—and The HSUS supports the many owners and trainers who use humane training methods to showcase this natural gait, while also working to end the abusive practices often used to create the exaggerated high-stepping gait that has long been associated with soring.
The lives of many Tennessee walking horses trained in this manner are filled with pain, suffering, and fear. Most are kept in stalls the majority of the time. Fitted with tall, heavy shoes, their legs covered with caustic chemicals meant to cause pain, these horses are subjected to extreme cruelty, all for the sake of a ribbon. The HSUS is working to increase the enforcement of the federal Horse Protection Act and other laws that are meant to protect these majestic animals.
News & Events
December 4, 2013
A Blount County, Tenn., grand jury has indicted four people suspected of animal cruelty by “soring” Tennessee walking horses by applying acid or other caustic substances to force them to perform the high-stepping “Big Lick” gait. The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Blount County Sheriff’s Office and Tennessee prosecutors for continuing to pursue criminal charges after an investigation into a Maryville, Tenn., training barn earlier this year.
August 29, 2013
With an eye toward a sound and versatile future for competitive Tennessee walking horses, The Humane Society of the United States announced the “Now That’s a Walking Horse!” grant and recognition program.
August 21, 2013
On opening day of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration’s 75th anniversary event, The Humane Society of the United States is announcing a new reward program to help expose corrupt activities within the industry. The HSUS will pay up to $5,000 for any tip leading to an arrest and conviction for bribery, intimidation, fraud or other corrupt activities related to the inspection of Tennessee walking horse shows.
August 19, 2013
The HSUS is tackling horse soring in the Tennessee walking horse show circuit through better laws and public pressure
July 30, 2013
A U.S. District Court in Texas upheld federal regulations to prevent the practice of “soring,” in which trainers abuse horses to force them to perform an unnatural high-stepping gait for competitions.
July 9, 2013
Former Hall of Fame Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell and two associates have entered guilty pleas to charges of abusing horses in violation of the Tennessee cruelty to animals statute.
June 10, 2013
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has declared that horse meat fits the legal definition of an adulterated food product and therefore cannot be manufactured, sold or delivered anywhere in New Mexico.
May 13, 2013
Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed the anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bill, SB 1248/HB 1191, after hearing from thousands of Tennesseans urging the veto and a report deeming the bill constitutionally suspect by the Tennessee Attorney General.