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
September 10, 2015
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
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.
August 25, 2015
Detailed Undercover Investigation Reveals Tennessee Walking Horse Abuse at Top Training Barn, with Big-Name, Previously Cited Trainers Continuing Their Illegal Conduct
For the second time in four years, an undercover investigator with The Humane Society of the United States has documented trainers and grooms cruelly “soring” Tennessee walking horses to create an exaggerated and unnatural gait known as the “big lick.”
April 18, 2015
Rescue groups in Tennessee will receive financial assistance from The Humane Society of the United States to care for 54 Tennessee walking horses who were living in filthy conditions and had little-to-no food. The Giles County Sheriff’s Office seized the horses, including stallions, mares, yearlings and foals, on April 14. The owner, Jeffrey Mitchell, has been charged with animal cruelty and surrendered all of the animals to Volunteer Equine Advocates.