Horse Health

Bill to End Horse “Soring” Draws Lobbying, War of Words

Sue Wallis’ cohort, Mindy Patterson, President and co-founder of the Cavalry Group, written about in “Horse Meat ‘Snake Oil’ Salesmen Fool Cattle Ranchers” has also lobbied to continue the practice of horse soring .  Seems like slaughter just isn’t enough for Mindy, she wants horses to have abuse and pain before they start a journey to slaughter, too.   – Debbie Coffey

by Monica Vendituoli on July 29, 2013 4:00 PM

A bill introduced in April to end the practice that gives Tennessee walking horses their distinctive gait brought the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) to the Capitol last week to give a presentation on horse “soring.”

Anything with a name like that seems unlikely to be a happy experience, right? As it turns out, some walking horses don’t come by their high-stepping naturally or with the usual kind of training.  Sometimes, it’s the result of kerosene, mustard oil and other irritants, as well as heavy boots, chains and collars, applied to the horses’ hooves and lower legs.

The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (H.R. 1518, or the PAST Act), sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), aims to do away with soring.  Lobbyists on both sides of the issue have saddled up.

“If [the general public] knew the way these horses are being treated… the irritants that are being used just to get them to accentuate their lifting of their leg — the ‘Big Lick’ as they call it — I think they would be quite appalled by it,” Whitfield said in an interview with CRP.

Soring is already against the law — the Horse Protection Act (HPA), passed in 1970, bans horses that have experienced soring from shows and sales. However, currently the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has the resources to police just 10 percent of the nation’s 500-plus annual walking horse shows.

The PAST Act would increase enforcement as well as penalties for violators.

Many of the horse, veterinary, and animal rights organizations that endorse the bill have lobbied on it this year.  The AVMA spent $310,000 and the American Horse Council spent less than $5,000 on lobbying through June 30, with the anti-soring bill among their agenda items.

The Humane Society of the U.S. and the Humane Society Legislative Fund, a separate lobbying affiliate of the Humane Society, spent $30,000 combined lobbying in the second quarter of the year, listing the proposal as one of the bills they’re concerned about.

The Humane Society and others oppose the fact that horse industry organizations, which are tasked with enforcing HPA because USDA doesn’t have sufficient resources to do so, use inspectors who are often owners or trainers, presenting a potential conflict of interest.

Those in the walking horse industry say they want to eliminate soring, but fear the walking horse economy will face the real penalty if this law is enacted.

“The Humane Society saddled up with USDA and they have been bullying horse owners,” said Mindy Patterson, president of the Cavalry Group, an animal owner rights group that lobbied against the bill in the first quarter, in an interview with CRP.

According to Jeffrey Howard, chief information officer for the Performance Show Horse Association (PSHA), formerly the Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization (TWSHO), the industry brings $38 million to Shelbyville, Tenn., every year for the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, as well as millions to other areas of the Southeast.

“We want to eliminate soring.  They want to eliminate the horse,” said Howard in an interview with CRP, talking about the bill’s supporters.

Opponents cite a potential conflict of interest among the animal rights groups.  Connie Harriman-Whitfield, the wife of the legislation’s sponsor, is senior advisor of presidential initiatives at the Humane Society.  The group gave $5,000 to Whitfield’s campaign in 2012.

Howard’s group has been working with members of Congress and hopes to develop legislation at some point to help stop soring on terms more favorable to the horse industry.

However, either side will be lucky to get legislation passed.

“In the United States Congress, anytime you talk about animal legislation, there’s a reluctance to deal with it,” Whitfield told CRP.

11 replies »

  1. I can not believe anyone being for this kind of abusive torture towards horses and burro’s! I would be willing to bet she is also a child abuser, because they say that 99.9 % of animal abusers start by abusing animals. Mostly because they can not fight back. I am so tired of people picking on these beautiful creatures God gave us to enjoy. They will not be happy till they have killed them all. Just answer this question, When you have hunted all the animals to nothing! What are you gonna hunt, and slaughter! Humans?


  2. And it’s funny that this is what the hold up was on or horse slaughter bill. Comes a bit late after the Tennessee walking group admitted defeat On this issue. Oh well, a daddy late and a dollar short but better than nothing at all.


  3. Why, oh WHY, is this thing even an issue??? If you feel you can’t compete without physically and psychologically damaging an animal, then you’re no friggin’ competitor, are you?

    THAT makes you a Cheat.

    Walkers became what they are because of their natural ability to step high; it’s genetics. Fast tracking a horse by brutalizing it into an unnatural performance? That makes you a Cheat!

    Of course, in order for the term ‘cheat’ to have any merit, you’d have to have some things like a conscience, ethics, morality and an actual talent for working with horses. Any psychotic can force a horse to do something with the right caustic and a 2 x 4.

    What’s worse is the owners and trainers who find the only thing wrong with cheating is the money they’ll lose; getting caught is certainly no barrier. The perimeters for cheating have been so minimized and softened, it’s relegated to the same category as belching or farting in public – a little tacky, but EVERYBODY does it.



  4. This horse soring thing outraged us when I was in the Walker Industry=as a horse trainer in the Quarter industry moving over to the gaited industry for experience I was excited and thought this will be AMAZING, first worked at the then Grassy Lakes Missouri Fox Trotter Farm, which also began purchasing Saddlebreds and Standardbreds. So I was getting plenty of gaited training. However, they had a serious desire to become the top in the industry of Walkers so he began buying and showing. We went big into the gaited shows and I was very talented saddleseat rider and driver, so I got to go all over the Nation with these horses-but then the truth late nights started slipping out. The abuse, the beatings, and BIG LICK was real! Horror shows of abuse nightly, poles, cane beatings, the armour the horses wore when they went to their stalls, chains, kerosene poured in drilled holes under the coronary band. The gasoline, vasoline packed over the top to keep in from oozing out. They actually said don’t light matches near horses. We saw straps with nails in them on the inside for the reins the tacks or nails were pointed to cause more action. Their torture relentless. But I will tell you personally where Mindy Patterson is coming from. They used torture devices on horses in AQHA as well, many have been banned, but the “great” trainers still use abusive head tying, foot tying tactics, withholding feed, water, and a great deal of gimmick devices, constant kicking the horses, Cleve Wells was busted for such abuse and it was brought to the common publics eyes. It was so bad the animals were bleeding profusely from wounds from spurs in the arena’s and the trainers just keep grinding until rock-grinder spurs were supposed to be banned. Of course, Mindy doesn’t want to save the Tennessee Walkers, because then their private training facility would be scrutinized for years of actions to train their show horses would be proven as abuse. Trust me those fighting against saving the horses are fighting to save themselves. They don’t want things to change because they would have to become better people. Lastly, do you folks really think Dave Duquette is a gentle trainer. Think on that one for a minute…. Finally the security talked about in all the news with all the sophisticated cameras for security that were at Roswell plant apparently did not catch the sneaky attempt to burn down the needing to be replaced refridgeration unit in Roswell, of course its suspicious, I mean a ninja dressed, cowl hooded navy seal would have had to gotten past the armed security guards, on camera slip across the open desert landscape, avoid the biting, barking dogs then with ninja skill attempt to set fire to the one thing really needing repaired. ??????????? Animal rights activists are being implicated. I am sorry, but with all this security how the f did a horse person do this? That proves he either lied about the security and the cameras and the costs he was out because of the activists or they set the fire themselves. So which is it?


  5. Please help the horses. Soring should not be allowed. It’s bad enough we slaughter horses do we have to hurt them too? No horse should be hurt just to “step the right way” That is abusive bigtime!


  6. I think the ones that believe in doing this should be made to demestrate this On Their Own Feet; the same way they have done to horses! Sorry if this sounds too harsh, but enough is enough! After their display they should pay for years & be marked for their greed & disrespect of animals. Leave the weights & etc. On their


  7. Mary Lou – YOU don’t sound harsh! These greedy abusive morons are beyond harsh. If they want to stop soring – CHANGE the mindset of trainers & judges & owners. This law against soring is dated 1970!!!!! 43 years ago. Of course the wild horse & burro act was in the 70s also – just goes to show how long something good can be pushed on into the future for the good of these marvelous human beings that also want to “harvest” our horses. What a description of a brutal, inhumane act.
    Yeah, lets put the weights & mustard & nails on these people who are so concerned about THEIR rights to do what they want to – as in torture horses.


  8. I left the industry went back to cattle horses, why? Because we dont have to abuse horses to get the very best results, at congress in aqha i realized i didnt want to be abusive i saw my own friend digging spurs into a friendly, fragile mare, i wound up owning the mare when it was over. She said it was worthless, i earned her trust showed her and top ten in the nation, then went into to professional cutting with her. Never rodewith spurs since, my dressage stallion had spurs for show, once a judge commented my heels were out, i apologized, he said no its admirable to ensure not to touch the horses.


  9. It is so disgusting to see photos of horses in varing degrees of torture – that is what it is – with credit for the photo given to USDA. The crimes continue to happen. And let me add that the reason these crminals get away with it is the ignorance of the public and the cordoned off training areas at shows. Now – the pubic willl want to know thehorses are mmoving naturally, something they thought before.
    Banning horse slaughter will weed out the abusers and breeders, for once they cannot dump ruined or “excess” horses, they will have no use for any of it.


  10. I really can’t believe I’m reading this. And they’re worried about losing money? This practice needs to be done away with, period. You can’t torture animals because it is profitable. People really are terrible.


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