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
February 24, 2014
Regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to prevent the cruel practice of horse “soring” are being challenged in federal appeals court, prompting the Humane Society of the United States to file a friend-of-the-court brief. The HSUS is asking the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to uphold the regulations, which require uniform mandatory minimum penalties for violations of the Horse Protection Act. The district court in Texas previously ruled against the plaintiffs and upheld the regulations.
January 15, 2014
Longtime animal advocate and star of ABC’s "Mistresses," Alyssa Milano, appeals to Congress to protect Tennessee walking horses from abuse by swiftly passing the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 1518/S. 1406.
January 8, 2014
Following the announcement of the new board of directors of the Walking Horse Trainers Association, The Humane Society of the United States released research into the board members’ past violations of the federal Horse Protection Act. The act outlaws “soring,” the abusive methods used to force Tennessee walking show horses and other related breeds to perform an unnatural high-stepping gait for competitions. A review of records of Horse Protection Act violations turned up 116 total citations for soring and related offenses for the seven-person board. One board member had only one violation; one has been cited for violating the act 39 times. The majority of these citations never led to meaningful penalties.
December 11, 2013
Priscilla Presley has put her support behind federal legislation to protect horses from lives of constant pain. She joins The Humane Society of the United States in urging Congress to pass the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act of 2013, H.R. 1518/S. 1406.
January 13, 2014
The Cheesecake Factory, which serves more than 80 million customers a year, announced that it has begun eliminating gestation crates from its pork supply.
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.