The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

Mighty Mouse says, Say NO to Horse Soring & YES to treats!

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on August 19, 2010

This is an issue that hits a little close to home for me and Mighty Mouse… There was a “person” at the WH&B Adoption back in May that had made a statement about the way Mouse steps. (He has a beautiful gait naturally that looks close to a prance.) This person made further comment that he “would make him step higher”. I quickly promised him that no, he would not be making Mouse do anything. Needless to say, I kept my promise. The following information describes how exactly this “person” and certain people of the same mindset “make him step higher”. 
(Mouse likes to play with the feed buckets… And anything else he can pick up with his teeth LOL!)

Animal Protection, Horse Industry Groups File Petition Seeking New USDA Rules For Horses

August 04, 2010 

WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Horse Protection Association, Friends of Sound Horses and former U.S. Sen. Joseph Tydings filed a legal petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service seeking new regulations to strengthen its enforcement of the federal Horse Protection Act. Tydings was the original sponsor. 

The Horse Protection Act was passed in 1970 to safeguard horses from the cruel practice of soring — the intentional infliction of pain to the limbs and hooves of Tennessee Walking show horses to create an artificial, animated show-ring gait known as the “big lick.” 

The petition asks APHIS to permanently disqualify from competition chronic, repeat violators of the law as well as horses scarred by soring. It further calls for the implementation of certain mandatory enforcement protocols — including minimum penalties for HPA violations — and the decertification of non-compliant industry groups certified by USDA to conduct inspections of show horses. 

“Forty years after passage of the Horse Protection Act, soring is still a widespread problem in the performance Tennessee Walking horse show industry,” said Keith Dane, director of Equine Protection for The Humane Society of the United States. “Federal law requires USDA to protect horses from the intentional cruelty inflicted by the practice of soring. This broad coalition of horse advocates has come together to help USDA in bringing a prompt end to this egregious and blatant abuse.”  


The most common form of soring is performed by applying caustic chemicals to the pasterns (ankles) of show horses — sensitizing the area and forcing the horse to lift his front legs high off the ground in an attempt to avoid pain.  The horses are then ridden and shown with metal chains around their ankles, which further accentuate the high-stepping action with each painful stride. Soring often leaves telltale scars — including tissue change, calluses, bleeding, inflammation, and skin and hair loss  —all of which are evidence of this cruel and illegal practice. 

For decades, horses found by federal and industry inspectors to have been sored (and scarred) in order to achieve the artificial “big lick” show-ring gait, have been allowed to continue to compete—forced to endure painful abuse for years throughout their show careers. 

Many winning trainers in the Walking horse industry have repeatedly been found in violation of the HPA, yet these individuals continue to train — and sore — horses for customers while on suspension from showing. There is little concern for being caught soring, as the consequences are mild, and there are far greater monetary incentives to sore horses rather than abide by federal law and train horses naturally. 

Several horse industry organizations that have been certified by USDA to conduct HPA inspections have consistently failed to detect and disqualify non-compliant horses at a rate comparable to that of the agency’s own veterinary medical officers. Yet no such organization has ever been decertified for non-compliance, as authorized by the HPA and regulations. 

The HSUS is represented in this matter pro bono by Latham & Watkins. 

To learn more about soring abuse, visit 

Horse Soring

Makes horse soring a misdemeanor penalty on the first offense (with prohibition on showing, exhibiting, and sales) with increased prohibitions and a felony penalty for subsequent offenses.
Our Position: Support
Bill Number: KY S.B. 156
Bill Sponsor: Sen. Tom Buford (R, 22)
Bill StatusDied
Legislature Status: Adjourned 
Text and Status

The HSUS Offers $10,000 Reward for Information on Horse Soring

The Humane Society of the United States has announced it will offer a reward of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any violator of Tennessee’s “horse soring” law, which prohibits the deliberate infliction of pain to horses’ feet to produce an artificially high-stepping gait. Ads announcing the reward will appear throughout middle Tennessee, an area still believed to be a hotbed of soring activity. 

“Soring — the deliberate infliction of pain upon a horse to increase the animal’s entertainment or monetary value — is incredibly cruel, and must end,” said Keith Dane, director of equine protection at The Humane Society of the United States. 

The soring of Tennessee Walking Horses and other breeds of gaited show horses is one of the most heinous forms of abuse inflicted upon equines in the U.S. The practice involves the use of caustic chemicals and chains on the legs of the horse, creating severe pain and forcing an exaggerated, high-stepping gait. 

Pressure shoeing — another especially egregious form of soring — is the abusive technique of cutting a horse’s hoof almost to the bloodline so the shoe puts painful pressure on the horse’s sole with each stride. In some instances, foreign objects are placed between the hoof and the shoe to create painful pressure on the sole. 

Passage of a federal law (the 1970 Horse Protection Act) has not had the intended effect of eliminating soring. Tennessee also has a state law prohibiting soring, but enforcement of these laws has proven difficult, and this illegal practice continues on a widespread basis. Therefore, The HSUS is offering this reward in order to encourage citizens to come forward and help end this entrenched cruelty. 

In 2006, the annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn. failed to name a World Grand Champion when most of the finalists were disqualified for violations of the federal Horse Protection Act. 

Constituents, who support HSUS’ efforts and understand the need to end this cruel practice, have generously agreed to supplement the reward amount. In the past, supporters have offered similar backing for increased rewards in particular cases of animal cruelty. 

Anyone with information on this cruel practice should call 1-866-411-TEAM (8326). The Humane Society of the United States will protect the identity of all callers.


9 Responses to “Mighty Mouse says, Say NO to Horse Soring & YES to treats!”



  2. morganlvr said

    Oh yeah, soring has been going on since before I was born I think. I’ve read that in the 1950s at the big Walker shows, when the horses did the Big Lick blood would fly off their feet and into the audience. Can you even IMAGINE such a thing? And no one thought anything of it!

    Of course, they still do it. I think when they first decided to stop it, they had what they called a Designated Qualified Person (DQP) going around and palpating the fetlocks checking for soreness. Well, the trainers trained the horses not to flinch – no kidding. They would sore the horse and then check the fetlock like a DQP. If the horse flinched, they beat him/her with a whip. The horse soon learned the wiser action. This was going on in the 1980s I KNOW.

    Now they’re using a heat-detecting device. Of course, they can’t check every horse at every show, so when they show up all those who know they’ll get caught if their horse is checked just leave. Last year at the big Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration in Tennessee, the checkers arrived and SO many people left, they didn’t have enough entries to hold the show!!
    Does that make you SICK or what?

    Ever seen the Big Lick? I think it’s absolutely hideous – SO unnatural. Horse is squatting in back and throwing the front feet almost as high as his/her face. They look like deformed crabs or something. YUK!

    I’ve always thought that horses were the most abused animal of all. We use them, and it seems there is NOTHING some people won’t do to a horse to make a name for themselves. Seriously, I’ve often wondered why the 1200 lb. horse doesn’t turn to the 150 lb human and just stomp them into a little grease spot on the floor. Especially these men who like to dominate. I’ve often watched thinking, “Come on, horse! Kill the SOB!” Of course, they don’t. That’s ONE reason I think horses are also the most remarkable creature too.

    I guess you noticed this is a subject on which I have strong opinions…

    Tracie, Mouse sounds a LOT like my Morgan gelding, Indy. Not only will he pick up and examine anything he can get his lips around, he has a reach that you would NOT believe. Even when you think something is out of his reach, it probably isn’t. The first week we had him, he managed to pull a bag of baled shavings into the stall area, opened it and spread it all over the place. Never a dull moment! ;0)

    • LOL nope, never a moment without some new antics! He’s just so sweet with soooo much personality that you can’t help but laugh at him!
      I’ve known about soring for most of my life, sadly enough. The “person” at the adoption who threatened Mouse with this is from a certain group of people in my region. This is common practice to them, along with a few other “tricks” they use to make the horses step higher. It just doesn’t make any sense to me how they see this as attractive. The higher the horse steps, the more they like the horse. Honestly, it’s really ugly to watch. I mean, really, they look stupid. I’ve never understood what the purpose was and I guess I never will.

  3. reveil said

    I had already read about this and found this despicable.
    To make a horse or any animal suffer for the sole pleasure of the viewer is beyond cruelty. It is hideous.
    Thank you for bringing this to light. It’s time to educate the general public.

  4. reveil said

    More photos of mighty mouse!

  5. […] Mighty Mouse says, Say NO to Horse Soring & YES to treats! […]

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