Tuesday, May 25, 2010

You NEED To See This

Today Katphoti posted on her blog, For The Tennessee Walking Horse, a picture that is one of the most horrible pictures I've ever seen regarding a horse that has been sored. 

For those of you that don't know what soring is, read this. It is an article she wrote on her website regarding what soring is, how its done, and what it does to the horse. In a very brief nutshell, its the practice of making a horse so sore in the hooves that they step higher and farther while in the show ring to make the Tennessee Walking Horse rambling walking gait into that "Big Lick". These horses have contraptions built on their front hooves that are sickening, but what is worse is what it does to the horses. 

Case in point. 

Here is the picture. 

According to her blog today, "the HIO is Heart of America--that's not the horse's name. I also found out this horse won the class and "passed" post show. I think we can all conclude what' really going on here."

That horse passed the inspection? HOW? The TW world is highly corrupt, there is money passed between owners/trainers and the inspection crew to grease the system all the time. Wanna bet that something like that happened here? 

The TW show industry is regulated by the Horse Protection Act, and at each show, inspectors theoretically inspect each horse for soring. The intent behind this should be simple... if a horse shows signs of soring, they should be DQ'd from any competition, and the owner/trainer should also be DQ'd as well. But the show industry polices itself, and I think the above picture, taken from a 2010 show, proves quite clearly that IS NOT HAPPENING. 

So who do the inspectors work for? The USDA of course. US Dept. of Agriculture. Who have been sitting on their asses and allowing this shit to continue on. The very inspectors hired and put into place to stop stuff like this have become part of the very problem at hand. The 'good ol' boy' system of showing has swallowed the inspectors, and now the very ones appointed to stop this horror are allowing it to continue. 

She wrote a letter to the USDA demanding something be done about this, and she posted that on her blog. I have her permission to repost it here. 

"I received the attached photo today. If you don't know about the photo, I hope this is enlightening to you. If you already do know about the photo, then this had better be a strong reminder of how the Federal law is continuing to be violated.

From what I understand, this horse is named Heart of America and this photo was taken this year. I don't know anything further about it, but I don't believe I have to. This is absolutely ridiculous. This horse is obviously sore. Is this what our industry has come to? Is this what SHOW and other HIOs that allow this freak of a demonstration of this breed believe is okay to be in the show ring? I don't know if this horse was allowed in the show ring, and frankly, I don't care. It's the fact that this horse was on the show grounds at all in the state he's in that is absolutely unacceptable.

I am begging the USDA, please, PLEASE ban pads and chains from the show ring and limit the toe length and shoe size and weight like all other sound horse venues have done. These practices have obviously helped--why is it that the USDA won't follow suit? It doesn't matter that the industry claims that stacks don't hurt the horses--it's what they are doing to these animals when they are allowed to have stacks on them that does. Pressure shoeing will be easier to detect without pads on the horses. Shut down HIOs who continue to have violations at their shows. The USDA has been able to pass rules such as removing the saddle for inspection and not allowing a horse to show for the rest of the show if it's found in violation...certainly rules can be put in place to get this to stop for real.

I believe you are not doing enough and that the time for allowing the industry to police itself is over. Step up and stop this. Playing around and adding rules here and there is not going to stop this--we know that. These people have had plenty of time to stop this, and now they need real action from the Feds to end it. Stop trying to not offend them or upset them or whatever it is that is keeping the USDA from banning these practices--they don't deserve it because they are criminals. The Tennessee Walking Horse has become a disgrace to the horse industry at large, and it's obvious that those who continue to sore horses will not stop. Make a difference and make a change for the better."


  1. Why is the USDA the ones expected to be putting the kibosh on things? Just curious...

    Where is PETA, HSUS and all the other right wing animal rights groups when you need them. I realize HSUS is worth less than worthless, but why won't groups such as these take this issue on as their main target for some attention?

    My opinion is that it would sure do a lot for both sides. Bring the animal rights activists out as the Hero's for putting a stop to it and bring down the curtain of shame on the BL/TWH industry for allowing it. I would think it would also dring out a great deal of publicity on the USDA for also allowing it for so long.

  2. I hope the fat piece of shit holding the horse was not also riding that poor animal. Sorry if you reading this are also fat, but if you and your tack combined weigh more then 25 percent of your horse's weight then you have no business abusing your horse that way.
    I am sick to death of FAT people being treated like they are disabled. Or horrified when it is pointed out that they did it to themselves. They are not disabled. They are just over eating slobs. Period.
    Anyone that treats a horse in this manner needs to be in a cage.

  3. Need to put in a correction to your text, CLAQ, if I may...

    The inspectors at shows are NOT USDA people. That's our major problem. They are from what are known as Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs). These HIOs were formed in the 70s after the HPA passed to "police themselves." HIOs include SHOW (sore), HPC (sound), HOA (sore, obviously), FOSH (sound), NWHA (sound), WHOA (sore), KWHA (sore), and various others. They have what are called Designated Qualified Persons (DQPs) who are supposed to be trained per the USDA's DQP program. DQPs are the inspectors and there is a process that they are supposed to follow. I have seen at sore horse shows they aren't following the process, when at sound horse shows they do.

    The problem is that the USDA doesn't have enough money to send THEIR inspectors, known as Veterinary Medical Officers (VMOs) to all TWH shows. When VMOs show up, the sore horse people scatter. They will pack up and leave before they'll have their horses inspected. This is good because the show loses money...bad because the bad guys will just go to the next show next weekend and do the same thing.

    But the other problem is that the USDA is dicking around and not doing enough. They are trying to "negotiate" with the HIOs instead of forcing them to do their jobs, and that will NEVER work. My thing is this: why are they trying to negotiate with criminals? They are breaking the law, no questions asked. No one negotiates with murderers or drunk drivers before they go to jail--they go to jail first and THEN they get to hash it out.

    IMHO, pads, bands and chains MUST be eliminated from the show ring, and the toe length and weight of the shoe must be regulated. Then pressure shoeing will be easier to detect and I know this abuse would end.

    CNJ, HSUS IS trying to help. The head of the horse protection program is the former president of FOSH and he owns TWHs. There is a huge page on the HSUS website about soring and what we can do about it. http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/tenn_walking_horses/ They also are the ones who gathered funding for the $10K reward to anyone who reports anyone who has sored a horse and they are convicted. The HSUS is our only help in the fight against soring.

    I have been told by several people who contacted PETA that the problem isn't big enough for them. They are definitely useless pieces of shit, as we already well know.

    Nancy, you're right. The worst part is that most TWH "trainers" are tall, backwoods men who are overweight. They are riding these horses at 14 to 18 months. If you watch videos on YouTube, you can see how their backs bounce up and down. A horse that could carry the rider wouldn't do that, especially a TWH--the rider shouldn't move at all. This is obviously because the rider is too heavy for them.

  4. I can't understand how these people think they are such rootie tootie horse people, yet they can't take a look at this horse and see what obvious pain the animal is in?

  5. Kat- HSUS may indeed be touting the ill effects of the BL industry, but ask them to do something and they blow smoke & sunshine up the ass of anyone willing to donate.

    They do the same with the Omak suicide race. "OMG! The horrors!" Send your donations to make it stop. While they do nothing more than flood inboxes and sit back collecting donations...

    When the sore horse folks (or rather sore losers is a better name for them) scatter, the show staff has the entry info. USDA could very rightly pull it, look up the entrants and visit their farms for a quiet, discreet, one on one, unannounced inspection of the premisis. I would recommend taking an officer along to keep the peace and maybe for personal protection? They obviously abuse the horses in public, who knows what means they would go to to protect their 'secrets' at home.

    To quote you- "IMHO, pads, bands and chains MUST be eliminated from the show ring, and the toe length and weight of the shoe must be regulated. Then pressure shoeing will be easier to detect and I know this abuse would end."

    Really? Pads not so much. Stacks? Definately have to go. The rest can too for that matter.

    But some horses just have have shit hooves and need the pads for whatever reasons. Stonebruises, thin soles, genetic flaw, you name it, but eliminating all pads is not the way to go. Thin, pads or even the wedge pads can be helpful when applied correctly for certain things.

    The thick stacks can certainly be a better disguise of all things hidden within. Pressure shoeing can also take on a number of different applications. Using shoes that are too small for one, clips can narrow the hoof over time and cause soreness as well as the hoof taking on a 'boxy' look. The horse may not appear as sore as the BL horses in the ring, but over time, the damage will be done. This can be done to any horse of any breed. Think about wearing your own shoes one size smaller each time you buy them...

    Part of this problem is the circulation in the hoof is reduced. As it is reduced, the feeling is also reduced in some cases. When the shoes are removed and the blood starts to flow again- the small area is restrictive and serious pain is involved. The cup hath nowhere to runeth over. This may lead people to putting the shoes back on... compounding the problem.

  6. Ackkkkk! I've heard of soring but never looked much into what it was and couldn't figure out what in the world that horse was doing until after I read the article. I have never seen a horse stand like that in all my years of being around horses, how could someone not care that the horse was hurting?
    I'm also curious as to how they get the horses to endure this? My horse has a tizzy when I try to apply baby oil to her chestnuts.
    My horse also had one pad under each shoe, she doesn't need them anymore but they must serve some purpose beyond the gaited world.

  7. CNJ,

    "USDA could very rightly pull it, look up the entrants and visit their farms for a quiet, discreet, one on one, unannounced inspection of the premisis. I would recommend taking an officer along to keep the peace and maybe for personal protection? They obviously abuse the horses in public, who knows what means they would go to to protect their 'secrets' at home."

    No, legally, the USDA can't go to someone's home, which we know is where the most abuse lies. The HPA only protects horses on the show grounds, and since the USDA can only enforce the HPA, they must abide by what it governs. However, a local Animal Control officer can go and inspect for cruelty under any State or Federal laws regarding animal abuse.

    We ABSOLUTELY need to ban pads from the show ring. The reason why is because pressure shoeing can be hidden with pads--it's done all the time. Now yes, there are medical reasons to need pads--my SSH mare needed pads before I discovered riding boots, a better hoof supplement and went barefoot. But my philosophy is that if your horse has bad enough hooves to need pads for medical reasons, then you shouldn't show it. The show ring is for the quality examples of TWHs. One with bad hooves is NOT a good example of a TWH as we should be breeding for soundness, not flaws.

  8. Horsemom - They punish pain with pain. I can't remember if it was Katphoti's blog or somewhere else that I read this, but the trainers will sometimes run 'inspection training' for lack of a better way to put it, where someone will mimic the inspector, and if the horse shows any signs of flinching, pain, or discomfort, the horse gets beaten or whipped.

    So they get it for showing pain too.

    There is a level of terror that these horses have to endure that is unimaginable to most of us.

    As for the pads vs no pads... I'm torn both ways. I've known many horses that were simply thin soled, with otherwise healthy, normal hooves, that were already on hoof supplements (and good ones at that) that still required pads to be comfortable.

    I know the argument for going barefoot - put down the pea gravel, and let them 'toughen' up their hooves that way over time. However that is not always feasible for everyone in every situation...how is a boarder in a large facility going to put down gravel just so her horse can make better hooves over 6-12 months?

    If pads must be banned from the TWH show ring to help stop the abuse, then I'd be for it. But saying NO horse anywhere should never have pads again - thats a bit extreme. I know thats not what you are saying here Katphoti, I am taking it that far for conversations sake.

    Its not an easy question to answer at all.