Horse Health

Horse Sold at TN Auction Allegedly Victim of Soring

Reported by Hayley Mason as published on

“They put diesel oil, mustard oil, right in a very sensitive area. They actually cook these chemicals into the leg…”

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – The Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration is gearing up for another night of showcases, but one horse won’t be in the spotlight.

The horse exhibited several signs of soring. (WSMV)

The horse exhibited several signs of soring. (WSMV)

Earlier this week, a champion breed horse was found bleeding and with signs of chemical burns.

Animal cruelty activists say the burns and scars on the horse’s legs and feet are all signs of soring, an illegal method used to make horses perform with an exaggerated gait in competition.

Most trainers say they don’t practice soring anymore, but one rescuer says she has proof that’s not true.

Tawnee Preisner, president of the Horse Plus Humane Society, said the horse, Skywalks Magical Dream, was on his way to a slaughterhouse until she stepped in to purchase him.

Video recorded at an auction in Cookeville Tuesday shows the horse. Preisner said he was the only horse there in stacked shoes and chains on his ankles.

“We’ve got hair loss right here. These are actually open wounds,” Preisner said as she inspected the horse in front of Channel 4’s camera.

Preisner said those are signs of a show horse that has been sored and injured.

“They put diesel oil, mustard oil, right in a very sensitive area. They actually cook these chemicals into the leg,” she said.

That makes the horse flinch, she said, causing an exaggerated high-stepping gait known as the big lick.

“They’re actually flinching when those chains hit the pasterns, when it hits the tender burnt skin, and it causes them to flinch, which gives them that big lick,” Preisner said. “And people in the crowd start cheering for animal abuse and that’s wrong.”

Channel 4 looked at the horse’s registration paperwork to determine who might be responsible. The owners are listed as Sammy and Gayle Cagle.

Channel 4 contacted the Cagles about the soring allegations.

“It’s kind of surprising because we traded him off in January for another horse. That’s the last I’d heard from him,” Sammy Cagle said.

The couple said they traded the stallion in January to another local breeder. They received the horse Extra Special Jose, who just won the top prize in the celebration last weekend.

Sammy Cagle said they had not seen Skywalks Magical Dream since he traded him in. He insisted the paperwork should’ve been changed to reflect the trade. He added he had nothing to do with the alleged soring and insisted his horse is not injured.

Channel 4 called the Triple W Horse and Mule Auction to see if they had record of the last owner. A manager said he thought the horse had been sold at The Celebration last weekend, but later said he wasn’t sure.

“We don’t know exactly who owned him. When horses are consigned in the auction, we don’t get the consigner’s information. That’s why we’re hoping the USDA will get involved and fully investigate this case,” Preisner said.

Animal cruelty activists want greater accountability in paperwork, auctions, and inspections.

“This is horrific for the state of Tennessee,” said Clant Seay with Citizens Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty. “The state of Tennessee is better than this.”

Seay, who rallies activists to boycott The Celebration, is hoping the USDA will get tougher laws passed.

The USDA is currently in the process of gathering comments on the controversial issue. If legislation passes, chains, stacked horseshoes and other action devices could be banned at competitions.

8 replies »

  1. Who are you find believe? These lying ass owners? Barn managers who are afraid of losing their jobs and other charges? Trainers who profit from the abuse that they inflict on animals? Or the animals themselves? I think it’s quite apparent who should be believed…..animals don’t lie.


  2. Calls must be made to the USDA and Legislators. Everyone needs to push to pass HR 1942 and the accompanying Senate bill. The auctions and slaughter pens are owned by foreign companies who pay the Kill Buyers to run them. They are down right damn liers when it comes to not knowing who owned the horse or horses consigned. The USDA has to clean up this disgusting and tragic system. Kill Buyers at the border fill out their own health certificates which are given to them by the USDA to fill out. Therefore, sending thousands of pounds of contaminated meat into the Global food market. Just recently samples of beef from Mexico was found to contain 40% horse meat. So if it says grass feed beef chances are you are eating horse meat. Check the labeling for your safety and that of your family. If it indicates anything other than US, I would leave it to.rot on the shelves.

    The corruption is never ending. Laws need to be strengthened to the max. Auction houses and kill buyers held accountable along with the last owner of record. Don’t tell me you can’t remember who you sold the horse to. I’m a assuming you signed off on paper work. This is why you should clear and make sure the new owner of record is known. In my personal opinion they.should all go to jail. And what the hell is wrong with the USEF? I’m assuming these are sanctioned shows. If not they should not be allowed to be put on. The people that cheer these sored horses on are Morans. I am calling the Governors office later today. Just disgusting that some Politicians would stand behind this cruelty. But it doesn’t.surprise me because the foreign companies pay Lobbyist to pay off some of our Legislators in the R party. They have held the Safe.Food, Safe Horse Export Act hostage in committee for months. They csre only about the money ….nothing else. Not the humane treatment of horses or other equines nor the fatality of the human or animal eating the contaminated meat. The horse industry has become tainted with inhumane, greedy people living off the blood money of our beautiful horses both Wild and Domestic! Are we all going to stand by and let this happen? Please let your.voices be known for our horses and other equines who can’t.speak for themselves!! And to those who repeatedly sore these horses…your punishment will be the same. We should rub your legs with caustic solutions, wrap as tight as possible then drive a few nails into your feet and make you jog and run an entire football field without stopping!!!


    • You are so right on every point! They expect us to believe they don’t know who they sold their horse to? All of it is evil and laws need to be made stronger. More penalties, monetary and jail time for these cruel and inhumane people.


  3. That is not the first horse wearing chains that Tawnee Preisner had found at the auctions they attend during the month. Last week they rescued 8 horses several of them were Tennessee Walkers and one mare almost ready to foal that had a large part of her neck missing with thick scar tissue on both sides. Once the mare foals, they will look for a home for her and her baby. I have been getting this organizations news letters for 6 or 7 years and they are on the level. They have two other rescues, one in Calfornia and one in Oklahoma they said the auctions in Oklahoma are loaded with horses being bought by kill buyers.
    The anti-slaughter organizations in Canada are working to try to stop horse slaughter in that country, they are going after the politicians over the drugs that most of the horses coming from the U.S. have been given along with horses in Canada.


  4. The government is allowing horses to cross the border into Mexico to be slaughtered even though there is a law against horse slaughter in the United States. More horse laws will not help! The fact that this stallion is sent to auction rather than bred speaks volumes, the Big Lick classes are on their way out! As no one with a Champion Stallion of any breed sends it to an auction rather than standing it for breeding! A charity must be formed and sponsored by one of the big name feed companies, saddle companies etc. to find and rehabilitate Big Lick horses so they are not sent to auction and slaughter. The charitable coalition would need to contact known owners looking to get out of the Big Lick horses as well as scour adds and auction sites where the horses are and will be “dumped” as well as create education classes for kids and teens as well as young adults. I know that the horses can slowly come off the shoes, perhaps horse foster families can help with that. Action is the answer to this Big Lick mess! I as well as everyone here cannot understand why this was ever done, but looking through history humans have done a lot of stupid and awful things. Education was and is the way to change for the better of all living things. Additionally the horses that are even tempered after the shoes come off should be able to be donated to the wonderful horse programs here in the United States and abroad, in England,Scotland,Wales for pony trekking and disabled children horse centers and charities. These charities have horses and teachers who use horseback riding therapy to improve the lives of physically and mentally disabled kids, as well as teens and adults.


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