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.

Eight of the horses competing in the Celebration were sored at ThorSport Farm, according to a recent undercover investigation conducted by The Humane Society of the United States. During the investigation, wrapping samples taken directly from these horses tested positive for substances banned from the show ring under the federal Horse Protection Act, which prohibits the showing of sored horses. The HSUS presented all the evidence gathered during the investigation to the Rutherford County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Department on Aug. 3 for possible action under the Tennessee cruelty to animals statue, but to date local authorities have taken no action.

Keith Dane, vice president of equine protection for the HSUS, said: “In our investigation, a horse named Play Something Country is seen moaning in pain on his stall floor after having illegal chemicals slathered on his legs. Weeks later, he was winning ribbons at the Celebration. This is outrageous and speaks volumes about the systematic and ingrained cruelty involved in the big lick; it is far from an isolated incident. The state law in Tennessee is scarcely enforced, and is inadequate in preventing this horse abuse. The only way to stop it is for Congress to act and strengthen enforcement and penalties.”

Another ThorSport Farm-trained horse, He’s Vida Blue, was sored during the investigation and was later awarded high honors as the Reserve Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion.

The following is a breakdown of the horses and placements:

  • Play Something Country – Elite Owner Amateur Gentleman Riders on Stallions, 2nd place; Susan Gordon Memorial Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses World Grand Championship, 2nd place;
  • He’s Vida Blue – Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration Stallions Five & Over SEC A/Walking Horse Trainers’ Association 2015 Riders Cup 2nd place; Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship – 2nd place (Reserve);
  • He’s Unleashed - Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration Stallions Five & Over SEC B/Walking Horse Trainers’ Association 2015 Riders Cup - 2nd place;
  • Gin Rio – Fine Harness – 5th place; Owner-Amateur Lady drivers, Fine Harness – 5th place;
  • Lord Stanley – Owner Amateur Riders on Mares/Geldings Five Years & Over – 1st ; Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses World Grand Championship – 2nd place;
  • Heza Warhorse – Young Trainers 35 & Under Mares/Geldings/WHTA 2015 Riders Cup – 4th place; Amateur-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses – 4th place;

The HSUS urges Congress to pass the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (H.R. 3268/S. 1121), which would bolster the Horse Protection Act by finally putting an end to the corrupt, ineffective system of industry self-regulation, banning the tall stacks and chains that are an integral part of the soring process, and strengthening penalties for violations of the law.

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