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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

  • 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.

  • December 22, 2015

    Congress Urged to Act on Anti-Horse Soring Legislation in Early 2016

    A federal bill to protect Tennessee walking horses from the cruel practice known as “soring” reached two congressional milestones by far surpassing 218 cosponsors in the House (at 240 and counting) and by earning its 50th cosponsor in the U.S. Senate: Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee.

  • September 10, 2015

    Soring Abuse Rewarded at Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration

    An analysis of the results from the 2015 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration – the top event of the performance walking horse industry’s show circuit – demonstrates that owners and trainers continue to be rewarded for using abusive methods to achieve the high-stepping “big lick” gait.

  • August 31, 2015

    Investigation: More Than 20 Horses Sored at NASCAR Team Owner’s Farm

    An HSUS investigation has uncovered the regular soring of Tennessee walking horses at ThorSport Farm, belonging to NASCAR team owner Duke Thorson, highlighting the need for legislators to pass the PAST Act.

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