USDA Bans Horse Soring – Protecting Tennessee Walking Horses

Jan 13, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an upgrade to the Horse Protection Act Regulations.  The new rule bans the use of medieval stacks, chains and other cruel devices and eliminates a corrupt inspection program that placed the very people abusing horses in charge of enforcing the law.

The Humane Society Of The United States conducted a series of undercover investigations exposing top trainers in the industry soring and torturing horses prior to the rule change.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with soring, the Humane Society summed it up, “Soring involves the intentional infliction of pain – by mechanical or chemical means – on the feet and lower legs of horses to achieve a high-stepping, pain-based gait known as the “big lick” in Tennessee walking horses.”

The video below shows what happens when horses have gone through this painful treatment.  Warning – The Video Is Graphic. Please continue reading below the video for details of the new rule changes.

Under the final regulation

-APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) will license, train, and oversee independent, third party inspectors, known as Horse Protection Inspectors (HPIs), and establish the licensing eligibility requirements to reduce conflicts of interest.

-To allow sufficient time to train and license HPIs and ensure an adequate number before the start of the 2018 show season, current Designated Qualified Person (DQP) licenses will remain valid until January 1, 2018.  Beginning January 1, 2018, management of horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions that elect to use inspection services, must appoint and retain a HPI to inspect horses.

-Beginning January 1, 2018, the regulatory provisions applicable to Horse Industry Organization and Associations are removed and are no longer effective.

-Beginning 30 days after the publication of the final rule, all action devices, except for certain boots, are prohibited on any Tennessee Walking Horse or racking horse at any horse show, exhibition, sale, or auction.  All pads and wedges are prohibited on any Tennessee Walking Horse or racking horse at any horse show, exhibition, sale, or auction on or after January 1, 2018, unless such horse has been prescribed and is receiving therapeutic, veterinary treatment using pads or wedges.  This delayed implementation allows ample time to both gradually reduce the size of pads to minimize any potential physiological stress to the horses and prepare horses to compete in other classes.

-Beginning January 1, 2018, management of HPA-covered events must, among other things, submit certain information records to APHIS, provide HPIs with access, space, and facilities to conduct inspections, and have a farrier physically present to assist HPIs at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions that allow Tennessee Walking Horses or racking horses to participate in therapeutic pads and wedges if more than 150 horses are entered, and have a farrier on call if 150 or fewer horses are entered.

Source, and  This is a huge WIN for the horses.  Share this on Facebook if you are happy to see these practices stopped for good!

73 Responses

    • Chris Hall

      The video makes me so angry. I would love to make the riders wear pads & heavy shoes on their feet, chains on their ankles and give them a great deal of “soring” twice a day.
      And the end result of this dreadful intentional cruelty is so ridiculous, unnatural and ugly. Thank heavens America is finally doing something about it.

      • Anonymous

        Agree, I could not complete the video.. Inhumane, horrible, just two words to post that come to mind.

      • Gielda Mathews

        It is about time they get this passed. How can humans be so cruel?

    • Anonymous

      Why wait a year! Makes no sense to hurt a living soul to do make yourself look good..
      no Love hear mister/mrs/ms rider.. this is not talent.. it’s Abuse to these wonderful creatures. I hope some day you lose your feet- and or legs and let us humans try to make you walk differently.

      • Anonymous

        This is exactly wha I was thinking! DO NOT wait another year! This is horrible!

  1. Bridget Mcguire

    It baffles me, why anyone who claims to like horses could do this, watch this, want this….
    I know that my riding time with me horses may be limited by lameness, due to wear and tear and the stresses of living.
    Why anyone would inflict this kind of stress on a horse is beyond me.
    Is this a true reflection of American values and ethics?
    God help us all.

  2. Gail

    What in the hell took them so long? This is not deliberate and planned abuse? To deliberately cause pain to any animal is abuse. I don’t understand how such artificial movement can be considered beautiful. Obscene.

  3. Anonymous

    This should have been done sooner. People argue that the pads are harmless, that the chains themselves are harmless. But they also state that these horses do the gait they are doing naturally. A running walk is natural. Racking is natural. A Big Lick, which comes about by placing heavy shoes on the animal and/or chains, is not natural. Natural means done at birth. They ONLY put these big shoes and chains on these animals for show, like decorating them with fancy colors, only horses with these pads can’t be loose in the pasture or loose anywhere because it is dangerous for them. The Big Lick IS NOT NATURAL, and needs to be outlawed until it is no longer thought of as “beautiful” and “unique”.

  4. Beth

    Now all those extra chains and stacks should be put on the owners and trainers, cook ’em up with some chemicals and run them around with a whip!

  5. Anonymous

    another case of animal abuse makes me sick to my stomach to see this I am a great horse lover and never knew this poor poor babies what they have to endure for human entertainment again these people who do this cannot be animal or horse lovers and they don’t care just the bottom line of winning and money in these horse shows thank god this will stop but what took so long all these poor horses that suffered all these years is sickening to me

  6. Joan

    Do I misunderstand? They can continue this cruelty until January 1, 2018, or is it banned now? I knew the gait looked horrible but until now had no idea how it was achieved. Pretty disgusting.

  7. Dawne Williams

    Thank God this is finally outlawed! Such cruelty from those supposed horse lovers is disgusting. Yes, what took so long?

  8. Lana

    This rule needs to go in to affect now–not a year from now allowing owners and trainers to continue the abuse another 12 months. When you think back in time and realize how long these horses have endured pain and abuse–it makes any normal person sick to their stomach. The TWH industry is going to have to do something to bring back the good feelings that need to be connected to these owners and breeders.

  9. Teresa

    Yay! Thank you USDA for having a voice for them.
    Don’t ever let these cruel techniques come back to haunt them. Shut these people down! These horses are scarred for life..

  10. Anonymous

    Sorry…but plan on seeing more of these horses in the slaughter pools. Seriously, no more money-makers… this is the mindframe of theses assholes!

    • Chris Hall

      Probably be the kindest thing for them. No more torture and they can’t even walk properly when they finish being “shown” so I expect that’s where they would end anyway. Do you mean these “people” only keep horses as money makers?

  11. Bernadette

    The USDA has banned this practice….so what?? This just appears to be covering the inspection at shows…until they actually go into the training facilities and bust the trainers and the promotors and owners who allow this to go on then this will still happen on a regular basis….this is a good start but not a real solution…

  12. Sandy Sargent

    I would like to hear from someone who trains, shows and owns Tennessee Walkers that thinks this has been an acceptable practice. Seems like they’re all being pretty quiet. Hmmmm? You should be ashamed of yourselves. You know who you are.

  13. Martha

    Why wait a year? I’m thrilled to see it out lawed, but let’s get real…unless and until officers go undercover in the known training centers and the back woods hidden, fly by night places we should all know this disgusting mess will continue. Look at dog fighting. It’s outlawed, but it lives and thrives anyway. There is something wrong in the mind of people that willingly hurt and do these awful things to living, breathing creatures. Pure evil!

    • Von

      All l can say is Thank God we don’t have gaited horses or classes for them in Australia. Personally l don’t see anything ‘nice’ about the whole action. I have read this article a couple of times and l believe the ban on soring is immediate, and the years time-frame is to allow trainers to slowly decrease the size of the stacks and chains to avoid further injury and pain to the horses. It will allow the ligaments, tendons and muscles to slowly return to their proper movement. To remove them completely immediatly would risk severe injury and pain, possibly resulting in death.

      • Martha

        Yes I do think you are right. I reread it and I think you are right.

  14. Kim

    BARBARIC and CRUEL!! Why??? Seriously why would anyone do such a horrendous thing to another living being…Intentionally causing such pain…That to me is pure evil!!!

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