I LOVE that title.
Here's an excellent, current article about what's going on in the sore horse industry from the magazine Animal Sheltering. Click here for the article. It's a phenomenal way to learn about what's happening to these horses.
These are the quotes from the article that had the most impact on me.
"The problem is that this breed has embrased and steeped itself in a very bizarre and artificial look for the horse," says [Keith] Dane [director of equine protection for the HSUS]. "And so, no matter how [some owners and trainers] have to accomplish it, they'll find a way to achieve the gait.
These practices [stacked shoes and soring] are often used on horses early in their lives; yearlings are fitted with stacks and shoes, and are usually under saddle by the age of 2, before their bodies have had proper time to form. The emotional and physical suffering brought on from such training often ruins the horse's placid disposition just as it ruins his feet.
Though these signs [of soring] are as clear an indicator of abuse as a 50-foot banner reading, "We're soring our horses," United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors are only permitted to assess violations of the federal law on show grounds. APHIS inspectors can't enforce the law in private stables--and sadly, this is where the vast majority of abuse takes place, making for a gaping loophole in the system, and allowing soring to thrive.
"It is sad that innocent people purchase these horses thinking they are getting an experienced, well-trained, gaited horse, only to find that they have been trained for one purpose and one purpose only when it comes time to ride: Go fast, straight, and hot," says [Tamara] Sissom [owner of a formerly padded and sored mare who cannot be rehabilitated to be a flat shod show horse]. Naive new owners either get hurt, spend thousands of dollars on training with little results, or promptly sell them thinking all gaited horses are hot and uncomfortable to ride. Not to mention that the horse is continually passed around via sale barns, because nobody knows what to do with the horse, unless the owner is from the same background of training."
This out-of-the-frying-pan, into-the-fire situation is a sad resolution for everyone involved--particularly the horse.
"Today, Tennessee Walking Horses are known throughout the industry
as the breed that shows abused and tortured horses."
~ Jim Heird, Ph.D., Do Right By The Horse, February 2010
"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity,
you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."
~ St. Francis of Assisi
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