Let’s Make It a Crime to Stick Nails in Horses’ Hooves

Tennessee Walking horses made their way into the national spotlight last year when the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released an undercover investigation that exposed the cruelty these horses are forced to endure to get them to achieve an unnaturally high step known as the “Big Lick.”

The practice involves putting caustic substances, such as mustard oil, Croton oil mixed with kerosene or diesel oil, on the sensitive skin around their hooves at their pasterns, bulbs of their heels and coronary bands to cause blistering, burning and irritation and wrapping them in plastic wrap to make sure its absorbed, which makes them quickly lift their legs to avoid pain. Chains may be used on top all of this to cause even more pain. Pads or stacks may be used to add even more animation, and can be used to hide objects like nails between the pad and the hoof to cause even more  discomfort. To further the abuse, some trainers also condition horses not to react to the pain in order to evade detection.

After the investigation aired, trainer Jackie McConnell was fined $75,000 and given three years of probation after pleading guilty to a single charge of animal cruelty and more recently faced state charges and was indicted on 22 counts of animal cruelty by a Fayette County grand jury.

While soring of all horses is illegal under the Horse Protection Act (HPA), it is still done by unethical trainers and the HPA only protects horses during transportation and shows, not while they’re at home. The investigation led to calls to amend the HPA to add additional protections for horses last fall, but the bill died in committee.

The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, HR 1518, was just introduced with bipartisan support by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Steve Cohen (D-TN) as an amendment to the HPA and will help horses in a few different ways. It will ban the act of soring, instead of just banning showing or transporting horses who have been abused, ban the use of action devices, including chains and stacks, that cause pain on top of soring, increase civil and criminal penalties for violators and give the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) more control over inspections.

“In Tennessee, soring horses is illegal and unacceptable. Those responsible for abusing these horses should be punished severely and banned from the sport.  How we treat animals is a direct reflection of our character, both as individuals and a nation. There is no ribbon, no prize nor championship worth the price of one’s humanity,” said Cohen in a statement.

The bill is also being supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners, along with organizations that support natural gaits, including Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH).

“Soring is still rampant in many segments of the industry,” Teresa Bippen, president of FOSH, told The Horse. “Without this bill, there will be continued abuse of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Spotted Saddle Horse, and Racking Horse.”


Please sign and share the petition urging your representative to support this bill and help end the cruel practice of soring.

Please also stand up for animals in Tennessee by sending a message to Governor Bill Haslam at bill.haslam@tn.gov asking him to veto SB 1248, which would make it a crime to expose animal cruelty.



Related Stories:

Should We Ban Horse Slaughter Once and For All

Lawmakers Seek to Stop Sadistic Abuse of Gaited Horses

Cruelty Exposed in Gaited Horse World


Photo credit: Thinkstock


Gina H.
Gina H5 years ago

Soring show horses is disgusting and there is nothing I find nothing beautiful about horses forced to walk such an unnatural gait. Soring is used with saddlebreds, morgans, arabians and any breed forced into show rings. I have heard little of dressage folks riding Andalusians, thoroughbreds and the like ever using soring on their horses. I could be wrong. I also doubt that the Lippizaners have been exposed to the practice either. Horses are beautiful without stupid human ideals for show forced upon them.

Prima B.
PrimaAWAY B5 years ago

I signed!

I have never heard of this and I don't even know what to say or think. It doesn't surprise me there's something else going on hurting and torturing animals. OMG, these poor babies/horses. People are vicious. What they will do to look good and the greed.

I do not watch any horse shows/animal racing , etc... This is sick!!! How can it be allowed?? Seriously I don't understand why It's allowed.. MONEY?

I'm really disgusted and too sad.

Elise Swansborough

Atrocious. Barbaric. this is just beyond belief, signed of course.
I'd really like to get my hands on these sub humans.
Those poor horses.

Carrie-Anne Brown

already signed, thanks for sharing :)

Annmari Lundin
Annmari L5 years ago

This is disgusting. I've never heard of this before and turns my stomach.

Linda S.
Linda Sams5 years ago

Yea, when I was a kid I wanted to be a "Cowboy" , ride horses, rope, etc.
Well, I grew up - and - I do ride, train, show, rope, rodeo, etc. all that with horses : I never LOST THE LOVE FOR THE HORSE enough to treat a horse this way ---- " THESE HALF RAISED " so called ? people ? have disrespected the real " COWBOY " whom loves his horse, rests his head on his saddle to sleep out on the trail : at horse shows & rodeos you always have that one person that disrespects his mount by abusing him because he / she don't know how to properly train to get his horse to do what he wants - so he beats, etc, this is disgusting abuse ----
And this needs to be stopped / I wonder how they treat the horse they are riding ------ someone needs to investigate everyone whom participates in such ASSINING events :::::::
" Yea; I want to be a COWBOY " ---- NOT THIS KIND OF cowboy :((((( degrading and disgusting !!!!!!!!

Nancy G Ellison
NANCY G ELLISON5 years ago


Colin Wright
Past Member 5 years ago

Animals should not be forced to perform, period. Nevermind soring.

N R C5 years ago

signed & passing it along 2 everyone I know

Susan B.
Suzzel B5 years ago

How about we add protecting the horses that are being captured to be sent out of the country and killed for food. How about we add not allowing our states to kill horses for meat. Everything we do involves killing animals. Poor horses. Poor wolves. Pathetic killers we are.