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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.

Support legislation to make soring a thing of the PAST »


Protect Tennessee Walking Horses from Cruelty

Tell your two U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative to help put an end to soring by passing the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act.

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News & Events

  • June 7, 2017

    Petitioners to USDA: Make animal welfare records public again

    Kate Mara (“House of Cards,” “Megan Leavey”) and two key Congressional lawmakers joined The Humane Society of the United States, Care2 and Humane Society Legislative Fund in delivering close to 200,000 petition signatures to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, urging the agency to restore online records of inspections and violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act. Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and Democrat Congressman Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., called on USDA to reverse course and post thousands of documents removed from its searchable website.

  • January 24, 2017

    USDA withdraws horse soring regulations supported by bipartisan members of Congress

    Bureaucratic bungling has stalled a critical animal welfare rulemaking action aimed at cracking down on the barbaric practice of horse soring – with the U.S. Department of Agriculture withdrawing new regulations today that had been broadly supported by hundreds of lawmakers in Congress, the veterinary community, a wide range of horse industry organizations, The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund.

  • January 13, 2017

    Obama administration finalizes rule to protect Tennessee walking horses

    In a move that should largely spell the end of the barbaric and gratuitous practice of horse soring, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the release of its final rule to upgrade Horse Protection Act regulations. The rule bans the use of medieval stacks, chains and other cruel devices and eliminates a corrupt inspection program that places the very people abusing horses in charge of enforcing the law. The Humane Society of the United States credits President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for taking this important anti-cruelty action.

  • July 25, 2016

    USDA Proposes Rule to End Decades of Equine Abuse

    The Humane Society of the United States applauds the U.S. Department of Agriculture for announcing a proposed rule that contains significant reforms to end the cruel practice of horse soring – in which caustic chemicals, chains, hard objects, cutting and other gruesome techniques are used to injure the front legs and hooves of Tennessee walking horses, racking horses and related breeds. The goal of this abuse is to force the animals to perform an artificially high-stepping gait known as the big lick, which is rewarded in the show ring.

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