Graphic video shows abuse of TN walking horses - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Graphic video shows abuse of TN walking horses

Soring causing horses to take unnaturally high steps (Source: HSUS) Soring causing horses to take unnaturally high steps (Source: HSUS)
Soring involves using corrosive chemicals on horses' lower legs. (Source: HSUS) Soring involves using corrosive chemicals on horses' lower legs. (Source: HSUS)

The Humane Society of the United States released a graphic video showing abuse of Tennessee Walking Horses for the second time in four years. 

The Humane Society said they got the video from a stable worker at Thorsport Farm in Murfreesboro, TN.  The farm is a major player in the world of Tennessee walking horses.

"Trainers involved with this stable knew exactly what they were doing," said HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle. "They had been cited for horse soring violations in the past, yet they continued."

The video shows the illegal practice called soring-- the intentional harming of horse feet and legs to create an unnatural step or 'big lick.' 

In the video, trainers can reportedly be seen wiping caustic chemicals, such as diesel fuel, on the horses' lower legs while they stand in high heels.

"The horses were forced to wear heavy chains and metal rollers where horses were being ridden to exacerbate the pain caused by the caustic chemicals," said HSUS for equine protection representative Keith Dane.

During the investigation, agents tested more than 60 wrapping samples. All of the samples tested positive for banned substances.

"As a veterinarian, as a Tennessean, it is not only embarrassing, but it is extremely corrupt and abusive," said HSUS Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Michael Blackwell.

The Humane Society is still investigating a previous Tennessee walking horse investigation that exposed Jackie McConnell, a trainer in Fayette County. McConnell pleaded guilty to 12 counts of animal cruelty charges.

'Soring' has been outlawed for decades, but HSUS hopes that by releasing this video, they will be able to lobby Congress for stricter laws and stiffer penalties.

Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen released a statement regarding the issue:

“I am disappointed—but not surprised—that evidence of Big Lick trainers abusing horses and disregarding state and federal animal welfare laws has once again come to light,” said Congressman Cohen. “Our society’s treatment of animals is a reflection on all of us. Causing pain to animals to win a prize is unacceptable.  It’s inhumane and unsportsmanlike. It is cheating to win by physically abusing horses. There is no ribbon, no prize nor championship worth one’s humanity.”

The Congressman continued: “Soring horses is both illegal and morally unacceptable, but trainers are clearly taking advantage of lax oversight and wide loopholes to do it anyway. We need to modernize our laws by passing the bipartisan PAST Act to finally put an end to these terrible practices and unequivocally say that Americans treat animals humanely.”

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