After years-long anti-soring campaign, USDA bans torture of walking horses

By on January 13, 2017 with 182 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Pushed to act by a series of HSUS undercover investigations and a national campaign that attracted the support of more than 300 members of the U.S. House and Senate across the political spectrum, the U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced strict new rules to crack down on the barbaric practice of horse soring — the intentional infliction of pain on the legs and hooves of show Tennessee walking horses and related breeds, to force them to perform the artificial, pain-based “Big Lick” gait. An enormous coalition of animal welfare groups, horse industry organizations, veterinary organizations, law enforcement, and others backed federal action, but ultimately credit goes to President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for getting this done on their watch. This has been one of The HSUS’s top federal priorities, and I am thrilled to pass on this news to you today. We will, however, have to be vigilant that President-elect Trump and a handful of opponents in Congress do not interfere with implementation of this rule; meanwhile, we’ll continue to press for federal legislation to build on the regulatory reforms, so the battle is not entirely over.

As requested in a rulemaking petition submitted by HSUS attorneys with the assistance of the law firm Latham & Watkins, the USDA rule, which was years in the making, bans the use of stacks and chains on Tennessee walking horses and racking horses (the breeds that have been chronic victims of soring). These medieval-looking devices accentuate the pain when chemicals are burned into the horses’ legs and their feet are injured with cutting and concealed hard objects. Injuring their feet and then forcing them to walk on four-inch stacks with chains banging against their sores creates the exaggerated gait prized by judges at some of the top horse shows. The rule also eliminates the failed industry self-policing program, and puts the USDA squarely in charge of enforcing the rules to eliminate these abuses. No other category of horse shows, for any other breeds, have needed laws and rules aimed at them. It’s a testament to the ongoing scofflaw culture that pervades a segment of the Tennessee walking and racking horse show world.

When you consider that the first major step in this process was taken more than 45 years ago, with Congress passing the Horse Protection Act of 1970 – attempting to outlaw the practice but leaving loopholes that the horse soring crowd walked through almost every day – you may have a sense of the countless hours devoted by reformers to deliver mercy to these horses, and to outlaw a practice that is as deplorable and intentional as dogfighting or cockfighting. The HSUS has been investigating and campaigning against the cruelty of horse soring since the late 1950s; it is a concern nearly as old as The HSUS itself.

The USDA’s Office of Inspector General conducted a comprehensive two-year audit released in 2010 that exposed how trainers within the industry deviously evade detection and continue to use horrific practices to attain the Big Lick. The OIG concluded from its findings that in order to fix the continued abuse, an overhaul of the USDA’s regulations to eliminate the flawed system of industry self-policing and stiffer penalties are vital and necessary. That OIG report provided an enormously important grounding for our national anti-soring campaign.

U.S. lawmakers weighed in on the issue in a major way, with House and Senate bills introduced in the 113th and 114th Congresses, attracting enormous bipartisan support. Forty-two Senators and 182 Representatives sent letters voicing support for the USDA’s proposed rule. Special thanks goes to Reps. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Steve Cohen D-Tenn., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., along with former Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., David Jolly, R-Fla., Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., along with former Sen. Joe Tydings, D-Md., who introduced the original Horse Protection Act of 1970. They are all champions in fighting for reform, and their work positioned us for success with the USDA. We are tremendously grateful to each of them.

Congress still has work to do – protecting the rule from attacks, ensuring its acceptance by the Trump Administration and adequate funding for the USDA to enforce it, codifying the rulemaking provisions, and increasing penalties for violators. We expect to see legislation introduced soon to address these issues and build on the rulemaking.

But as with our successful efforts to strengthen the federal animal fighting law a decade ago, and our work to bring an end to the use of chimpanzees in invasive experiments, this rule is a triumph for our movement. We need to be vigilant, but today, we should celebrate.

Equine, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.


Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Ann Strother says:

    Praise God!!!! I have voted for this for the
    longest time!!!

  2. Cindy Savoy says:

    Considering the USDA is squarely in charge of promoting the continuation and proliferation of Puppy Mills, what on earth makes anyone think they’ll have any positive impact on ending TWH soring?! Fix the Department, fix the problem.

    • Cindy Noble says:

      AMEN!!!! I m so apposed to this!! I love horse racing, but, it just go to show u, they care more about the money, which I know is very true, but….so wrong. I so appall it. Sad. Very sad. I don’t even know I want to bet on horse races anymore:(. People make me sick!!!

  3. Holly Goldstein says:

    This is very exciting to many people who have worked so hard over decades to finally see this abhorrent practice made illegal. Stacks, chains, and soring of the Tennessee Walking Horse, and the racking horses has gone on for way too long…it amounts to torture, both in private, and right out in public. Thanks to the Humane Society, FOSH, and all of the U.S. Veterinary professional organizations, and many grass-roots efforts of horse lovers everywhere! This is a cause for celebration!

  4. Robynne Catheron says:

    Thank God in Heaven! It’s not perfect, but it’s still a huge milestone! I’m not sure the new “HPI” designation will be much different that the current so-called inspectors, so I’ll remain cautiously optimistic.

    Well done, ALL anti-soring advocates for kkeeping the pressure on Congress!

  5. Beverly Connor says:

    Is this different than dressage ?

    • Nancy says:

      This is WAY different than dressage! Dressage uses traing techniques that are in NO WAY hurtful or harmful to the horse or rider! I love my horse, and I would never allow her to be hurt in anyway just to do something in a show!

    • Penny Joubert says:

      Completely different….

    • Lynda Elaine says:

      Completely different.

    • Lisa says:


    • Charlene Hovatter says:

      Yes. Dressage is a completely different type of competition.

    • Kim Vierra says:

      Beverly Connor Yes, in dressage a horse is trained over years to develop a form based on muscle development and balance- with very few artificial aids necessary because the movement comes from the natural training. When the dressage horses produce this walk it is only done on cue and is usually very slow, often only 10 or so steps because it is so slow. The “big lick” walk pictured here is done artificially and is usually fairly fast-paced- intended to travel large distances quickly and supposed to be very smooth for the rider. In a still picture they would look similar, but completely different intentions.

    • Vanessa Mather says:

      Yes, this is entirely different from dressage, with the exception of one short-lived training method, which did not take decades to be made illegal. And when is the US going to ban ear-cropping of dogs? Another unacceptable practice in a ‘civilized’ country.

    • Janet Goldman Merrill says:

      “Dressage” actually means “training.” Yes, there are numerous forms of dressage, but what Tennessee Walkers and Saddlebreds do have nothing to do with classical dressage. They are bred to have certain gaits and the way they use their backs and the rest of their bodies is quite different from a dressage horse. I think the more competent gaited horse trainers will actually use some dressage principles to improve their horses’ gaits. That is what the training does. But no ethical horse person would ever torture their animals for show. Also, classical dressage is not about tricks. It is about strengthening the horse, limbering him up and in general making him more capable. It should never be about pain and force. At least, that is the ideal.

    • Heidi Brennan says:

      Yes Beverly, Dressage is like teaching your dog to jump thru rings and stuff.
      It’s training a horse to respond to minute signals from the rider and “dance” around the ring. No torture, unless the trainer is a crazy SOB, but I’ve never experienced that. My best friend in HS rode dressage, and her horse was
      well cared for, not mistreated, and didn’t have any issues.
      This Walking Horse soring is making their feet so sore that they don’t want to walk on them, and so they lift their poor sore feet up high. It is despicable at the highest level

      • Susan Light Gothard says:

        Also, every dressage move a horse makes is one that can be observed in the wild. These are natural movements.

    • N. Cooper says:

      Yes. Read up on dressage. But I don’t approve of the Spanish School’s logic. Some traditions, such as bull fighting, need to go into the history books and viewed for what they really are,
      cruel examples of self-glorification.

  6. Paula Kaartinen says:

    The traditional brutality of abusing horses to achieve an unnatural gait has reached its end, unless a sadistic culture that does not love horses is allowed to continue. Please let this practice die.

  7. Sandra Missildine says:

    Happy tears rolling down my face. Thank you HSUS.

  8. m corio says:


  9. Barbara says:

    Let’s celebrate a huge win, without the snide political asides, please! What a 45 year victory, this won’t go away & die now!

    Sad to see the political divide contaminating what is a purely moral & ethical issue.

    I am thrilled for the horses, & thank all who have fought over the years for their benefit!

    • MCM says:

      I agree!

    • Jane Strong says:

      I agree. This is how to get things done. Focus on the goal and not on any side issues or politics. Percelle appears to be an innovative, inspiring and savvy guy who knows how to make things happen through collaboration.

      I am so very happy about this…and there are so many other disciplines that could use this kind of outside regulation.

  10. mattie goodwin says:

    mattie goodwin congratulations on the anti-soring campaign. i’m glad i signed those petitions. excellent manuvering to get this cruely banned. thanks for all you do for horses!

  11. Cathy Hayduk says:

    My prayers have been answered! Thank you for your persistence and dedication working to see justice for these show horses. May the new rules go into effect without conflict (might as well shoot for the stars) and may the public outcry against all forms of animal abuse ring loud and clear. This is the best news I’ve heard all year!

  12. Donna Nabors says:

    I don’t see anything attractive about the way this horse moves. Hopefully the Tennessee Walker people can appreciate their breed in a more humane way.

    • Rushelle Kopah says:

      not all are like that though .. not everyone that has them treats them that way ..
      what a few bad people do doesn’t mean everyone does …..
      i personally would love to get one at some point if i knew how to ride a gaited horse …. i’m used to stock breeds and such crosses…. in fact i saw a lovely black walker mare who was barefoot .. and built like a qh i wanted to get her but was told i shouldn’t just cause iv’e never had a gaited one …..

  13. Karen Nadow says:

    Thank the Lord, God in Heaven! Maybe now their agony will cease…due to human kindness. k

  14. Karen Nadow says:

    Thank the Lord, God in Heaven! Maybe now their agony will cease…due to human kindness. k

  15. Allan ohen says:

    great on saving the horses good luck in the future

  16. Allan Cohen says:

    great to hear about saving of the horses good luck in the future

  17. Carol Stanley says:

    I am so happy to hear this news! As a horse lover I have been signing petitions to have these practices stopped for about 30 years. It’s always a bit shocking to me at how long and with what great effort it takes to stop people from willfully harming animals in the most heinous ways. I’m glad and grateful that you and other reformers never give up!

  18. Lotte Kragh says:

    Thank you so much for this piece of good news. Made my day!

  19. Amanda Gilliland says:


  20. Kathleen Boyd says:

    Finally, this was long overdue!

  21. Betsy Mattuchio says:

    Someone heard you .Congrats

  22. J W says:

    This is GREAT. Now monitor for the unintended consequences such as flat shod horses more sore than ever.

  23. Dee says:

    They could still sneak in soring or caustic substance that can
    be very painful for a horse. Need to go natural as the big lick had
    its day and is very painful and futile to see a wonderful animal
    being treated with extreme measures that results in torture.Have horses before they show to be examined by a vet. If any cheating is found t hey are grounded for ever. Let’s be humane this year
    and know this crap out.

  24. Nancy Russell says:

    I am overwhelmed! Ever since I took notice of this heinous practice, through an online petition, I have been hoping for some real relief for these traumatized animals. Thank you, all of you, for all you’ve done, and your unfailing attention to stop this, once and for all! Education for the people who enjoy this is necessary. Thank you, so much!

  25. Debbie Hallmark says:

    It’s about time they listened. How would they like to be treated like that.

  26. Eve May says:

    Fantastic news !

  27. Darrell Guss says:

    You state that you HOPE that President Trump, because he is our new president, will not interfere with this legislation. Believe me, he’ll support it , he’s not a spineless whining libtard. I’m sure you’ll see our new President will do even more for animal rights than Obama or any other president has in the past.

  28. Shawna Yeats says:

    I’m so happy that Congress has decided to pass this law! This torturous act on horses is absolutely barbaric and to know that there are laws against it now are more than words can describe!

  29. MARIE CHALMERS says:


  30. Angela Medeiros says:


  31. joan kaplan says:

    What fantastic news! The power of fair-minded humane people protecting helpless animals against the vicious cruelty of supposed caretakers who are actually only interested in advancing their financial benefit. Bravo to HSUS for its continuing essential and much appreciated work. GREAT! Keep up your invaluable work!!!

  32. Alexa says:

    Really looking forward to reading this rule in the FR in the coming days! Anxious to find out what they define as “racking horses” and hope that it includes all gaited horses and not just Tennessee Walkers.

  33. Angela Medeiros says:

    I think the horses need to not abused in any way,they have feelings too

  34. Carol Paquette says:

    Just look at the eyes and expression on that poor horse’s face. You can tell he is very distressed. God, I just despise people who exploit animals for “entertainment.” Circuses, rodeos, dog sledding, bullfighting, horse racing, dog racing, etc. should all be banned, but it will never, ever happen. Hopefully, this soring issue will come to an abrupt end. But we all know that laws protecting animals are usually not aggressively enforced, and many will continue the practice.

  35. jewell says:

    YES…YAY for the horses !

  36. jewell says:

    T Y for speaking for the horses USHS <3

  37. Christina Funkhouser says:

    I was shocked that this practice existed-especially in 2017. And we all thought bullfighting was barbaric and cruel. I am very happy legislation is in place to protect these innocent animals. Thank you President Obama and a bipartisan Congress for putting into law HUMANE Treatment for horses. My hope is that the new Trump administration will uphold and expand laws that promote us as a humane humanity.

  38. debbie catalina says:

    It’s been such a long trek for them and those of you who worked so long and hard to achieve it in the name of love and humane regard for animals. Thank you, HSUS, and all who worked to achieve an end to torture of these beautiful and innocent beings!

  39. Ariel Valyo, DVM says:

    Thank you for this miracle for horses. I thought that this would NEVER happen.

  40. Olga Musson-Zepke says:

    This is wonderful news. I have always believed that the walking and racking horses have wonderful gaits WITHOUT the exaggerated ones which are induced by these barbaric practices. This is the perfect example of man’s ego overriding the pain inflicted upon an animal.

  41. Andrea Lude says:

    I Very Much Doubt Trump would stop this, what would he have to gain to let it continue. Hate when people are assumptions like this turning this very good news into something political…it’s the ONE good thing OBAMA has done, and it was more so because of a few in his administration. Thanks for the pointless add to ruin what could of been just a solution great positive news peace.Ugh

    • Lynda Elaine says:

      Says someone who only thinks this is the one good thing President Obama has done..smh and the irony of your post is rich.

  42. lynda broman says:

    save the horses

  43. Wwary Warrior says:

    Please explain why you think Trump, as president, wold try to block legislation to prevent cruelty ton animals. Give specific proof of his intent to do so, not just a slanderous accusation, please.

    • Lynda Elaine says:

      Same reason you are about to lose everything. Trump cares for nothing except himself and his ego. Plenty of proof for that.

  44. Dixie Smith says:

    Never heard of this disgusting practice, once again providing human pleasure at the expense of an animal’s health and well being. I’m pleased to see this action taken.

  45. Lis croxen says:

    This is disgusting

  46. Anne French says:

    Well done! Great news!

  47. Christine Lundstedt says:

    My heart brims over with joy at this victory! I’ve owned and loved natural gaited plantation Walking Horses – bought a young still natural Walker gelding out of a show barn (son of Mr. Millionaire) as well as one mare who had been up on horrific show shoeing and of course took her down but she never knew really where the ground was afterward. She would stumble everywhere but I think her feet and legs felt good to her the rest of her life! Show shoeing and sore-ing can only be performed by people who are not and never ever will be horsemen of any sort. They are abjectly cold, selfish, utterly blind and abjectly cruel. I can only hope that these practices will now be effectively stopped!

  48. Beani says:

    Yes! Finally this victory has come thru for horses! Thank You God! Thank You HSUS, all the senators & representatives, & everyone who petitioned & fought for the end to these cruel acts!! 🙂

  49. Kat says:

    Thats good news… however, USDA supposedly inspects puppy mills and the torture continues. Wont be any good if they dont enforce it

  50. fran gigler says:

    I hope this is the end to horse soring. This is so very terrible what they put these beautiful creatures that God has given to us to care for and not torture. These people will have to answer to God for this on the day of judgment.

  51. Linda Tricarico says:

    Great news I saw the video of a horse that was being hit because he couldn’t get up on his feet that trainer should be in jail horrible

  52. Rita says:

    great news

  53. Joan H Cabany says:

    If you are going to subject the TWH to strict regulations, you better start also going after the racing horses, the jumpers, all and every horse venue requires strict training. Leave our Horses alone –mind your own damn business. These people causing trouble I would bet have never even sat on a horse. Go AWAY..

  54. Joan Beard says:

    I do not see any mention of the use of chemicals to induce pain during the soring process,

  55. Kelly Wilson says:

    I have been praying that 2017 would be. ” The Year Of The Horse ”
    Triumphs like this only make the fighters of animal abuse, STRONGER.
    Hopefully, Trump will listen to the majority of the country and work with Congress to keep this law alive and active.
    So much hard work, sweat and I can only imagine the amount of tears, to get this far. To all those that have never given up the fight, GOD BLESS YOU!
    It takes an Army, but Victory forever!

  56. DG says:

    Just have to drag politics and Trump into this, don’t you? Give it a rest. I’m sure he has much bigger things on his radar than this.

  57. Rebecca Rowell says:

    It is inhumane to animals, what have we come to, to harm animals for sports.

  58. Jerry Snow says:

    What a great outcome : ) The commentary though is just stupid… out for trump lol what an idiotic comment

  59. Loretta J. Byrum says:

    Cannot believe someone that professes to love horses could preform such a barbaric act.

  60. Chris Bradley says:


    I am SO thankful that Horse Soring is really starting to become something of the PAST (pardon the pun) HSUS people who directly personally involved I am so appreciative for all of the hard, diligent work and the perseverance to get this very cruel act of soring to be nothing but a very bad,. cold hearted act of animal cruelty! !! I thank everyone for helping those who cannot speak for themselves. Every person including all Veterinarians that were and are involved in this god awful act of horse spring should be held acceptable. The Veterinarians NEED to have their certificates destroyed and never touch another animal again. Every person involved in Horse Soring should NEVER touch another again ! Prison is too good for these people.

    Thank you ! Chris

  61. Susan Davis says:

    Artifice interfering with the natural way of a horse moving, including drugs, should have been ended long ago. Make the new law stick by financially supporting it!

  62. Sondra Bibbs says:
    Sondra Bibbs

    YEA for President Obama and Sec’t Vilsack!

  63. Gail says:

    Wonderful for the horses, but who and how can enforcement be made?

  64. mary lee rishel says:

    wonderful achievement I am elated to see this country is taking notice and representing compassion to these horses. no only for their welfare but for the welfare of a more compassionate country on a whole. it is proven time and again, those that abuse animals are those that become abuse to man. time and again, so many animals are the tool for man’s entertainment…be it zoos ,hunting. or horse racing and these activities go on and on

    • Rushelle Kopah says:

      zoos arent bad when run properly … sometimes that is the only thing keeping certain animals from extinction…. hunting is not bad …. when done for the right reason …. for food ……. its actually cheaper and safer then meat from factory farms … FYI …… horse racing isn’t bad .. many are born that way and love to run …. there is only bad owners/bad breeders .. not all are bad …
      they need to better regulate the breeding not get rid of it forever .. if tree huggers get rid of things that give horses jobs, and a purpose.. that would leave more homeless ones then there already is … its got to be more focused on regulating things to make it so the bad people cant do bad things ….

      • Sumiko Kanda says:

        I am happy to know that horse soring is no longer allowed. Rushelle Kopah, I don’t think you know about horse racing because if you know how much torture is involved in horse racing, there is no way for you to say this barbarity is ok. Do you know how many horses are die in horse racing and how poor horses are abused? Many race horses are end up in slaughter houses or left to starve to death!
        About hunting. Do you know how many wild animals wounded and take for them long time to die because of sloppy hunters? I heard news about hunters shot by hunter almost every year on news.
        I know this is out of subject but you should know about these things.

  65. Linda says:

    Thank you. I’ve been signing petitions to get this stopped. A huge step in stopping this horrible cruel treatment of these beautiful horses

  66. Jackie Robinson says:

    Finally!!! So happy that these horses will no longer be abused. Kudos to all involved in this victory

  67. Jackie Robinson says:

    Finally, so happy for these beautiful horses! Kudos to all those involved with making the change and recognizing humane treatment of these horses.

  68. Becky Dudley says:

    It’s not natural, it’s not pretty, it looks abnormal like there’s something wrong with the horse. Horses have always been my passion, I love them all, they are magnificent animals and should be treated with dignity and respect. They’re gentle giants. Horses are the most beautiful of all animals. I am so glad they’re finally putting an end to this cruelty, I’ve never enjoyed a racking horse show because it’s so fake and cruel. Those horses owners don’t love the horses they only love the money that the horses win at any cost of pain or injury to the horses. People like that should be prosecuted!!!!!!

  69. Carla Mason says:

    Why would you assume that President Trump would interfere in the implementation of this?

  70. Cindy Okolichany says:

    Thank you HSUS and all the organizations that worked this miracle for horses!



  72. Linda Del Favero says:

    I signed the petition and commented on the barbaric and cruel practice of soring causing pain and suffering that feeds the ego of people involved in this practice who want a “high stepping” horse. Do they really think they look impressive riding their butts around on a disabled and suffering horse?

    Very glad that 2017 is starting off with added protection for these walking horses and pray the new protection rules will be enforced. Anyone involved in soring deserves large fines and some jail time to get their attention.

  73. Jacky says:

    So wrong and terrible pain
    this is abuse
    inhumane evil action
    This must Be Forbidden

  74. Mary reiman says:

    Thanks everyone for the diligent efforts to start the eradication of this cruel practice!

  75. Mary v says:

    Well done!

  76. Phyllis Nunn says:

    Awesome news!!! Well done!!!!

  77. Shelly Jones says:

    I still do not understand? No big lick shows allowed, no need for the big lick walk. TWH were breed for there incredible temperament and good nature. Let’s go back and have TWH shows, with no stacks, chains or even shoes, as they hide stuff in the shoe. Just stop having these shows, as long as these shows exist, soaring will exist. Let’s admire this wonderful horse for its natural gait. Please shut down these big lick shows and save those horses of a life of torture. After the show ring they have big open soares, that weep, no hair grows there and there lame for life. They now beat these horses in the ribs if anyone touches there legs and feet and they move in pain. So they are let in the show ring as the horse did not respond to pain by going down there legs and being checked, the horses no better, they also mask the pain with a lidocaine based product while the vets are checking the horses, once there checked, the product comes off and there right back in pain. Please Elect Mr. Trump, don’t let this continue to go on.

    • Sumiko Kanda says:

      Shelly Jones, I agree with you 100% when you said
      ” Just stop having these shows, as long as these shows exist, soaring will exist.” Passing law and strict enforcement is 2 different thing and sure way to stop this shameful SADISTIC barbarity is to abolish show.

  78. Pam Quick says:
    11606 Cotner Ave
    Bakersfield, CA. 93312

    I am very much against the cruility and pain thes horses are put through to perform! Please add my vote not to sore horrors any more!

  79. Susie Peters says:

    As an Australian, I am appalled at this barbaric ‘custom’. Looking at the above picture, I cannot for the life of me see anything stylish or elegant about this hideous fake gait. Even the look of the horse’s eyes is enough to make any genuine, true and loyal horse lover sick. I did watch a video once on the training methods – or should I say ‘tried to watch’. It was just too sickening to watch it all – I nearly cried with anger.

  80. Nadine says:

    In other words – this entire style and ‘sport’ of horse riding should be BANNED! It is torture. With this ban, those that will follow the law, how will they train their horses to perform so unnaturally without the cruel methods used before? Surely no carrot will entice any animal to walk as such and they shouldn’t. Brakes my heart that this has become a sport that is AWARDED. People in the audience watching with big smiles on their face, little do they know or care what these innocent beautiful animals suffer through every single day. Wish it was illegal. With greater awareness we can hope more people will avoid these shows and maybe one great day this horrible ordeal will seize to exist. Until then I can only pray for the horses whose every day life this is their reality

  81. Mrs Jocelyn M Jenkins says:

    At last an end to this disgusting cruel practise, and now what about stopping the practise of tail docking, and cutting tail muscles and resetting high tails purely for the showing world of horses-Tennessee walking horses, totally unnatural, same as cutting dogs ears for canine showing world. Humans are supposed to be the intelligent race-doesnt seem like it in some aspects

  82. Pamela Paikopouls says:

    For this demonic practice to allowed to rake place and continue ,those with monotory and political power gave been griding the wheels of this sick industry and will continue to do so. As we all know, money speaks, how is neptesisim going to be monitored and legally tended to. Education is very much needed. Educating the public of what they are going to view in shows and parades. Education needs to start at state school level.Children need to understand respect, respect of life and the value of life. To respect another life children learn to respect themselves and visa versa . Education on human and animal biology,instincts, emotions that glue life together is very important. The mental an emotional and physical pain is largely the wellbeing of these wonderful animals, just as for humans . People / children need to understand that animals fel love , pain , fear, just as they feel hunger and thirst. Change needs to be build at the grass roots level , the grass roots of our brains. Education , and vigilance on the loop hole users and jumpers.

  83. Pamela Paikopouls says:

    This demonic practice has been allowed to be practiced and aided by those of monotory and political muscle. To take the power away from people who are in this Industry the public needs to be educated. People in general need to know the horrors these poor animals go through and the pain they are in while they are paraded around.Education needs to now start in state school . Children and adults need to know the biology of human and animal. Mentally , emotionally and physically animals like humans feel love, pain, comppassion, fear , just as they feel hunger and thirst. Long term resolution needs to be addressed at grass roots level. Education is the base.

  84. begue says:

    ces splendeurs ne sont pas nées pour faire les caprices des humains ils ne sont pas fait pour faire ces spectacles c’est ignoble de forcer ces magnifique bêtes a souffrir et déformer leurs pas pour ces gents qui les exploites et se remplir les poches sur leurs douleurs

  85. Sue says:

    Big milestone against savage barbaric cruelty.

  86. carol beagle says:

    why dose the HSDA put some action in the puppy mills that fores poor dogs to live their whole life on wire floors, wake up they are abused every waking moment of there life not just when they they are out ridden. they don’t even know what it is like to have their feet touch the grass. AND if we compare the number torched horses, to the number of dogs that live like the killer dogs in China, who at die and are not suffering as long as the puppy mill dogs who never know any comfort in there entire life. the puppy mill must have lobbyist or something going on.

  87. Jasmin Castens says:


  88. Cherie Scheurich says:

    Thank you to all those who are diligent in correcting injustice and inhumane treatment of animals. Praying that the evolution of compassion continues to move forward despite new government`s apparent lack of prioritizing these important issues. Hopefully humanity continues to progress. Standing strong!

  89. Carol Henzel says:

    Thank you for the update and for your continued persistence to get this barbaric practice halted. I am grateful knowing these beautiful horses won’t have to ensure that horrible practice which was all too common place.

  90. peggy conroy says:

    This must be enforced. The congress never puts money into something critical like this as it’s their powerful moneyed allies that support this.

  91. Janet Brummett says:

    I am so very glad to hear this and feel that when brought to Trumps attention he will MAKE SURE this law is enforced. However getting the “good ol’ boy” attitude out of the LOCAL law inforcements attitude is something that unfortunately takes too much time to change. Here in Ky. ,,,to start with,, has the worst animal cruelty laws in the country. But even the ones we have arn’t enforced and if one is, the perpetrator usually walks with no punnishment or even a fine. Just probation and a ” don’t do that again” judgment. What we NEED IS laws for animal abuse as strong as for child abuse then punnishment so strengent that people will stop and think before ever abusing a defenceless animal.

  92. Susan Borges says:

    It’s about time!!! If the horse show industry did not reward for this unnatural high stepping action, which is the result of soring, platform shoes and leg weights and physical abuse…..this practice would not exist….the industry needs to evaluate it’s goals

  93. Alison smith says:

    This is pure torture at the highest level please stop this horrendous act of torture to these gorgs horses leave them to have natural feet and walkIng .

  94. Sherry Klotz says:

    Hi yes I’m up very big horse lover and I have always hated the fact that they put these high-rise shoes on walking horses for shows and change this was totally inhumane and I’m happy to know that they have finally been able to put a stop to it I’m not really glad to hear about that and um if anybody is out there that sees the practice of using these harsh training types of effects on a walking horses feet please report them to the Humane Society I think that would be a good place to start and maybe they would be able to I’ll go to the right direction to stop these people from using these inhumane training products so please report anything that you see and God bless you this is Sherry and I live in Arkansas and I love walking horses they are so comfortable to ride there’s a number of gated horses out there that are very comfortable and they do not need to have this kind of treatment so throughout the world I’m sending this for any of those that are on Facebook please report it we need to enjoy the horses just the way they are beautiful magnificent creatures so again God bless and take care and love and kisses to all those who are animal lovers thank you bye bye

  95. Tom Williams says:

    Why did you have to make this political? Did Trump say anything that makes you think he would over turn this rule or are you just spouting more hate propaganda. There is no background to suggest he would ever due anything to reverse it. Haters gonna hate. Grow up.

  96. Robin says:

    Oh well…aren’t we now just such a civilized nation.
    The freaks who do this training torture? Manson danger relatives I assume? They need a like form of incarceration. Why didn’t they refuse to torture the horses. Why didnt the audience stop patronizing the venue. ALL are guilty by association!!

  97. c.moore says:

    Woohooo, It’s about time to end this ABUSE of these Beautiful Creatures!!!
    Thank You, Thank You, Thank YOU!

  98. Riikka Vanhanen says:


  99. Susan Trout says:

    While I am very grateful to HSUS and so many decent, compassionate horse lovers and others for your determination to stop these gruesome practices, I am dumfounded that it’s taken more than 40 long, agony-filled years to stop it. This is undeniable animal cruelty and every person involved should be arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty. Most sane horse people view the “big lick” classes as a joke. A shameful exploitation of this wonderful horse’s beautiful, natural gait. Big lick action isn’t exciting–it’s madness. Undeniable madness. My heart aches for all these pitiful, innocent horses who’ve endured terrible torment and pain over so many years. Every person who took part should have irritants applied, and chains attached to their ankles; then be forced to wear wood stacks while they strut around a sand-filled arena like Nazi soldiers. Perhaps then they might understand how incredibly unnatural and miserable this class is. I can only imagine what these “show” horses become once their show days are over. Their lives are probably very short. Damaged tendons and ligaments from years of unnatural action leaving them cripples. If you track these horses’ lives, I’m sure very few have lived to be 20 years old. There will always be ways for low-life scum who masquerade behind the word “horsemen” to force the high action. END BIG LICK, PERIOD! Make it the disgrace it truly is and encourage people to appreciate the Tennessee Walking Horse for the naturally gifted animal it was born to be. Thank you to everyone involved for keeping the pressure on. There needs to be a complete house-cleaning in the TWHBA. Shame on you! May God have mercy on your miserable souls because you surely didn’t show any mercy to these voiceless, suffering horses!

  100. Enid Birtwistle says:

    If these horses need allnthat horror treatnent to produce this gait. Then they DONT LIKE IT. No training should involve pain and punishment. Just yet another horror story.

  101. CW Parker says:

    Congratulations! We’re so glad soring is discontinued. No sensible person could stand to watch a horse through pain, but those who practiced this there’s no redemption.
    Thank you.

  102. C says:

    Look at the face of this horse, absolutely petrified and obviously in pain, Thank god this has been banned. ???

  103. Fournier Fernande says:

    Auch Tiere haben Anrecht auf ein würdiges Leben auf diesem Planeten! Nehmen, Sie ihre Verantwortung, bitte. Helfen und handeln Sie menschlich und zügig. Tiere, sind Lebewesen! Dessen sind Sie sich bewusst? Manche” Menschen” sind nicht über allem erhaben! Zivilisierte, Gesellschaft? Man erntet stets das was man sät. Vergessen, Sie dies nicht. Merci.

  104. Dolores Santucci says:

    The USDA hasn’t done a very good job of enforcing the AWA at commercial dog breeders. I hope the horses fair better.

  105. Anne boul says:

    I couldn’t be more happy for these poor horses at last I know you people have worked long and hard to get this made law

  106. Debi Nielsen says:

    Yea! That news just made my day!

  107. Jeanne Martin says:

    We need to stop Premarin making pregnant mares stand days on end to collect their urine

  108. anneli wikström says:

    This is wrong ande very cruel….poor horses,
    Help ,please ….!

  109. G. Barath says:

    I previously had thought that this was a natural gait of Tennessee Walkers, I am appalled that so called ” horse people ” would treat there animals so inhumanely. It seems to me that there are cases where the SPCA and the HSUS have certainly let animals down in regards to following even the laws that were in place previously.

  110. Benthe Stalling says:

    So happy to hear this!

  111. Marty Swartz says:

    So happy this barbaric practice has been exposed and stopped.

    Good work HSUS.

  112. Marty Swartz says:

    So glad this barbaric practice has been exposed and stopped.

    Good work HSUS.

  113. Tamara Brannin says:

    It’s about time these breeders and abusers are stopped. Proud of you Humane Society.

  114. Phillip says:

    Long overdue…I have seen and experienced the horse they have damaged for life and its sad…..horrible at best

  115. nona says:

    so at this point it sounds like there is not adequate funding for this? Also, if the USDA could not do their job and upholding the regs of horses that went to the slaughter floor when Cavel and Dallas Crown was open, how can they enforce this legislation? so many states have the AG gag laws and they cant go around looking in trainers barns?

  116. Nona VanDamme says:

    Suggestion to HSUS, with the USDA being owed Millions of money from the transporters of horses and their violations, why is this money not collected and used for enforcement of this NO SORING.? If I was in violation, I would lose my rig and all my assets, yet Leroy Baker owes over 170,000. and still in business. Why is that? Doubt Trump will like that kind of business.

  117. Tim Bradley says:

    How could anyone that calls themselves a,”horse lover”
    Be this cruel. This practice must be banned by ALL
    Horse related organizations.
    It’s horrifying to me that anything like this still happens among
    “Horse Lovers “

  118. Bernadette Clark says:

    Just read this article on FB. I used to admire this gait – I had no idea it was caused by these barbaric practises. Thank you for all the hard work HSUS put in, and to the US gov’t for finally creating this legislation.

  119. Debra Strole says:

    I have heard about this, but never seen a picture. This is horrific. I have owned Peruvian horses for years. We do eveything to insure their natural gait in our shows. No shoes everything must be 100 percent natural.. The people that do this to their horses should be forced to wear elevated shoes and chains and perform the same way they treat their horses

  120. Frances says:

    Can this be verified?

  121. Patty Romeo says:

    As a horsewoman and horse show judge, this appalls me and thank God we have finally come to our senses. Shame on anyone who had done this or the judges who award this kind of treatment. I hope you suffer the same treatment for this abuse.

  122. Linda Armstrong. says:

    Make sure it is enforced diligently!

  123. Marilyn Bowman says:

    I certainly hope this stops the abuse.

  124. Kym Peritore says:

    The truth of the matter is, as stated, “prized by judges”… People that run these shows, hire the judges that THEY want.
    In my opinion, the fault lies solely on the judges and the judges alone. I have been to shows that in just one single class on one single day, those “hired judges” changed an entire breed standard…

  125. Ellen Allen says:

    This is great news! Thank you for fighting! I couldn’t do much from Europe except for voting against it with signing the petition. Thank you for your precious work!??????

  126. Sharon Schriedel says:

    I thank you for your efforts but why does it take 35 + years to get something done. It’s obvious it hurts the horses, end of decussion! So before you pat yourselves on the backs ask yourselves why it took so long while these animals were suffering.

  127. Vonamae Scott says:

    I have never had a horse, love them. Don’t like to see any animal in pain, especially on purpose for the benefit of mankind. I am surprised that these girls/boys that by all accounts love horses, would want to injure them or see them in pain. For a prize/ribbon/medal? So sad.

  128. Antony Sharp says:


  129. Gitte Hansen says:

    Listen to the horse people around the world. Stop this now. Please !!!

  130. Sharon Maritz says:

    Please STOP this!

  131. carmel Euwen says:

    A long fight but so worth it !! Is there a plan in place to help heal these injured

  132. barbara bowlin says:

    This practice of horse soring is deplorable. It is despicable and hefty criminal charges – not just a fine, which these idiots will gladly pay – should be levied against these jerks!!!! Riding Tn Walkers was a joy in my younger days and I never saw anything like horse soring… It is disgusting!

  133. Jeanne Bradbury says:

    Jeanne Bradbury,

    This Country was built on the courage, and sadly, the suffering of horses and other work animals. I’m from NJ, home to more horses per capita than any other state, and whose State Animal is the HORSE. The outrage of horse soring, horse tripping, and all the other deliberate cruelties for some supposed “sport” or profit has been a disgrace and a national shame. THANK YOU to all who joined the fight!

  134. waymire says:

    “No other category of horse shows, for any other breeds, have needed laws and rules aimed at them.”
    Completely false. Abuse is rampant in the show world in almost every discipline. From halter horses conditioned to unhealthy weight, to reining horses slid into walls. All horses should be protected.
    I am very glad to see this step taken to protect the gaited breeds and hope it continues and expands.

  135. Peggy says:

    If the demand for this gait was removed then there would be less of a problem with the abuse either. Your article says ” the exaggerated gait prized by judges at some of the top horse shows”. Hold the judges accountable too. This is a terrible thing to do to any animal for any reason. The fact that the judges would prize this thing is deplorable. Perhaps I am not the best one to comment on this since I am not involved in horse shows at all but common sense says this is wrong. Glad the ban was passed.

  136. Patricia says:

    Thank you 4 finally doing something about this horse torture. Now it must be inforced with perpetrators jailed & fined

  137. Gerald Asher says:

    It’s about time they got shut down for all the horses they had distorted by all the credulity that happen to them

  138. Sharon Hayes says:

    Please please STOP this barbaric treatment!!! The people who do it, ride them and watch the event need are heartless!!!! Let these beautiful creatures be free as they were born to be!!! There are many other sports.

  139. gerry smith says:

    does the general public know about this practice?….I think not. tell them loud and clear.. tell the world and it will stop because people will not attend these shows…

  140. Lin says:

    WHAT?? took you so long??

    • Teresa says:

      Lin, the money and power behind the people who support this abuse – and animal abuse in general – is staggering. Maybe this will help you to understand what animal and environmental welfare groups are up against:
      Also, the “average middle class people” support animal cruelty by attending spectator events like this (along with rodeos, dog and horse racing, circuses, Sea World, etc.). It’s as simple as the law of supply and demand. For example, if more people would adopt instead of buy, puppy mills would have no reason to exist. Granted, the rich and powerful would still have means to use and abuse animals for their own twisted “entertainment”, but a great deal of suffering can be prevented simply by boycotting. If only enough people cared enough to put the welfare of all animals above their own selfish wants.

  141. Margery Glickman says:

    Congratulations to HSUS and to all the people who worked to get the ban.

  142. Marilou Angelastro says:

    Giving Obama credit is not really the fact. The person who wrote the story had a thin-veiled comment about President-elect Trump and thus, I lost interest in the politics behind this story. Is this Obama’s legacy, these horses? I am beyond thrilled that this practice will be halted, humans derive a great deal of pleasure at the expense of animals. The Ringling Bros. “Torture Circus” is ceasing operations in May, wonderful news. Now, what happens to all those animals????

  143. Paula Calhoun says:

    Thank You, Thank You, and all those who tirelessly worked to make this happen. We need to continue to keep this in mind and make sure it “sticks”, and “NOW” all join forces to work toward the elimination of puppy mills. Just as horrid a practice – and we need to continue to expose these inhumane conditions and the people who are so small minded to think it is “OK”!

  144. J. Baker says:

    I grew up riding and caring for horses, and had never heard about these horrible walking horse techniques until recently. Lots of stuff was covered up back in the 60’s and 70’s.

    HSUS, keep working on animal issues. Here in Arizona, we have a new dolphin “prison”– a large concrete pond where dolphins are forced to perform. Just when you think society is phasing out the capture and forced performances of all kinds of wild animals, this happens! Thank goodness, this was heavily publicized here and many people picketed and refuse to attend.

    In the west and southwest, rodeo practices can still be an issue, as well (and just south of our border, bullfighting).

    My heart was divided for so long… I grew up going to rodeos, zoos, circuses, horse shows, etc. Unfortunately, the majority of us weren’t aware of how some of the animals were really treated. I still hope that today’s kids can have some of these experiences. But my heart is now leaning toward, first, protecting the animals. Many changes have to happen. Traveling animal performances, for the most part, must stop. Wild animals need to be left in the wild, unless they can be in an appropriate, stimulation-full habitat to protect the species. Perhaps a revised type of rodeo can still survive– I don’t know. All of the appalling, cruel training methods (for all kinds of animals) MUST be abandoned.

  145. Carol Spero says:


  146. Teresa says:

    For anyone who cares for the wellbeing and humane treatment of animals (and for the environment), a plague of unspeakable proportions has entered the White House. I posted the happy news from this blog to my FB timeline a few days ago just to wake up to this news today:

  147. Denni A says:

    Trump is in the process of undoing all the good things President Obama has done for the environment and animals. I would not be cheering this long-awaited development just yet. one only has to look at Trump’s cabinet picks to have consternation about the influence exploitation interests will have on his administration. his two trophy hunting sons can’t wait to get their guns loaded on killing Polar Bars, Grizzly Bears, Wolves and everything else with four legs that we cherish on our Federal Public lands. we must not become complacent the next 4 years.

  148. Barb says:

    why does the link to the USDA site not work? another ploy from the humane society. can’t find anything real to prove this has passed.
    If you have a working link, please POST cause i would love to see. Hate the
    soring of the big lick horses that has been going on for too long.

  149. Celeste Penn says:

    Why the jab at President Trump? Jabs like this make me a horse lover and owner not want to support a group that does not respect my countries leader.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.