It is important that we stop the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration because it encourages trainers to torture their horses just so they can entertain a crowd and impress judges. During this competition, the big prize goes to the horse that has the best "big lick" style walk. To achieve this unnaturally fast and high-stepping walk, trainers put "stacks" on their horses' hooves (think platform shoes for horses) and wrap the legs in chains or rollers to add weight.
Some Tennessee walking horse trainers even go so far as to use "soring" to make it so painful for the horse to put their hooves down that they immediately pick them back up again. This makes the horse pick up their legs higher and faster. The methods used for "soring" horses are barbaric. The most common is to put chemicals like mustard oil, salicylic acid, kerosene, or diesel fuel on the horses' hooves and legs. They end up with painful blisters and scars. Other ways to get that prized "big lick" style walk are to overtrim hooves, wrap the legs in chains dipped in chemicals, and put nails and screws under the pad. In the most extreme cases, trainers have been known to beat horses and use cattle prods to get the gait they want. Apparently, the more pain the horses are in, the more likely they are to wow the judges.
If you watch videos of Tennessee walking horses, you will see the discomfort in their eyes, their pain, their cries for help. Look at the pictures of the soring, the neglect that the horses go through. This is not the life they deserve.
After decades of public outcry over these horses being routinely tortured, "soring" was made illegal in 1970. But making "soring" illegal didn't stop trainers from continuing to hurt their horses. So, in 2006, the USDA decided to do a major crack down. But even surprise inspections and competition disqualifications didn't stop the trainers. They just figured out new ways to mask "soring." Disgustingly, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA tested all of the horses competing in the 2013 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and found that 67% of them tested positive for substances meant to cover up "soring."
It is obvious that as long as there are Tennessee walking horse competitions, there will be soring. Enough is enough! These competitions must be stopped, and the first one that needs to go is the biggest and most prestigious - the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. Sign this petition to demand that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)/USDA shut down the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration once and for all.