March 23, 2009
The HSUS Debuts New Video on Abuse of Tennessee Walking Horses
The Humane Society of the United States presented a new video exposing the cruel practice of soring at the second annual Sound Horse Conference in Gainesville, Fla. over the weekend, and hopes attendees will use the video to bring further awareness to soring as it's used in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.
Soring is the intentional infliction of pain to a horse's feet, using caustic chemicals and metal chains, which produces an exaggerated, high stepping gait. Tennessee Walking Horses and other related breeds, prized for their distinctive gait and willing natures, have long been victims of this cruel practice.
Soring is so cruel that in 1970, Congress passed the Horse Protection Act and gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture authority to inspect horses at horse shows, sales and exhibitions for signs of soring, and prosecute individuals found in violation of the law. However, enforcement of state and federal anti-soring laws has been thwarted by political pressure from industry insiders, allowing the practice to persist on a widespread basis.
"This deliberate infliction of pain upon these defenseless creatures is blatant animal cruelty. It is brutality in the name of entertainment — opposed by horse advocates and many responsible leaders in the industry — and it must be brought to an end," said Keith Dane, The HSUS' director of equine protection. "This new video will inform the public, the media and members of Congress of this inhumane practice and put violators on notice that their criminal abuse of horses will be exposed."
Dane urged conference attendees to focus their efforts on raising awareness against soring. Without public sentiment against soring, it will always find a home in the dark corners of this industry, Dane told the group.
Co-sponsored by The HSUS and organized by Friends of Sound Horses, speakers at the Sound Horse Conference included veterinarians and other scientific experts who discussed ways to help end soring, including the use of modern detection technologies such as thermography, digital radiography and pain detection devices.
USDA representatives also presented at the conference, and shared the agency's plans to step up their enforcement of the Horse Protection Act this year.
World-renowned natural horsemanship leaders Pat Parelli and Robert Miller, DVM, delivered the keynote presentation, "Humane Trends Impacting the Horse Industry," to the audience of more than 100 people.
About The HSUS' anti-soring efforts: In 2008, The HSUS founded the Alliance to End Soring with other animal welfare organizations and horse industry groups, including The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Welfare Institute, FOSH and the Horse Protection Commission. To date, the Alliance has grown to include 24 member groups from around the United States.
The Alliance works with the USDA, Congress and Tennessee Walking Horse industry stakeholders to advocate for strengthened enforcement of the Horse Protection Act and raise public awareness of the pervasive use of soring in the industry.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.