If we look at the description of this breed, it will be said that the Tennessee Walking Horse was bred in Tennessee in the mid-1930s. A walking horse is a gentle and intelligent animal, obedient and well-meaning. The gaits characteristic of the Tennessee pacer are congenital smooth amble, frisky amble and gallop.
Both amble are free four-stroke movements with a high extension of the front legs. When moving, the horse nods its head to the beat of the movement, and the hind legs step on the front tracks. Between themselves amblers differ in pace. Frisky amble is very fast and is often used in show rings. Horses develop this gait at long distances up to 13 km / h, and at short – up to 24 km / h.
But at what cost is this spectacular gait, considered the national treasure of America ?!
For more than 50 years, any show or national holiday is complete without showing the Tennessee horse. They perform both under horseback and in harness. For horse owners, this has become an entire industry that brings huge profits.
But at what cost do horses pay for this sight? Their unusual amble walking is achieved through pain and suffering. It is achieved by causing constant severe pain in the legs.
The U.S. Animal Husbandry Society has enacted the Söring ban law (this is the name of the “horse mocking” training). It defended the breed that is national and beloved by all Americans. The US Congress has passed a law prohibiting the use of brutal training.
These beautiful and unique animals are deliberately suffering because of the spectacular nature of their exceptional amble.
In 2006, Shelbyville, Tennessee National Day was closed due to violations of the law governing the protection of these horses and the prohibition of the Söring method, due to violation and continued use of cruel methods by the owners. All horses examined experienced leg pain.
But in 2007 the holiday took place again. At the same time, the organizers of the show said that Tennessee riding is an ingrained culture that carries the country’s long traditions. As always, a crowd of spectators gathered at the show and no one spoke out in defense of animals, referring to the traditions of the nation.
The inhumane practice of “Söring”
This is a deliberate infliction of pain on the horse’s legs in order to increase its gait. This is achieved by applying caustic chemicals to the delicate part of the horse’s legs above the hoof, after which the legs are wrapped with a film to achieve a greater burning sensation, and then chains or other irritants are attached around the inflamed area. Hooves are compressed by forging and cut so short that the horse experiences severe pain when stepping under its own weight. Further, the hooves are strengthened on special shoes and a large number of nails are driven into the sensitive part of the sole.
In stalls, horses stand with difficulty. Almost always they lie on their side. Their eyes are dull and unexpressive, and not shiny, like ordinary horses. Often they can see collars or other devices on them, since they suffer from bite from constant pain, they try to gnaw at the disturbing shoes and itchy skin of the feet with their teeth.
But the Americans do not sympathize with the animals caused to suffering, they are not ready to give up entertainment and this show.
Inspectors, who must monitor national holidays and animal shows, often turn a blind eye to violations and the show continues to exist. Söring’s inhumane practice continues.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Lexington Forum has proposed finally ending Söring. And overcome the system that allows this tradition to be maintained.
In 2010, the Söring ban law was promulgated, which was supported by most members of Congress, the US FCC, and the American Veterinary Association.
In February 2015, a number of requests and petitions from the United States Society for Humane Treatment were carried out and they were supported by the Department of Agriculture.
However, horse owners and trainers protested, as this industry has existed in the country for over 46 years. But during this time they did not try to change the training, but made it more and more sophisticated in causing pain to the horses.
They also appeared at U.S. Department of Agriculture meetings and recalled a rule in Tennessee and Kentucky that legitimizes their brutality. They claimed to love animals and care for their well-being.
At the Lexington forum, opinions were expressed both in defense of horses and against the prohibition of this method. At the same time, supporters of the second point of view argued that as a result of the prohibition of this practice, the breed will lose its unique abilities that have developed over decades.
Kentucky State Director of Kentucky Kathryn Callahan said: “There is growing public outcry over the pain of these horses by trainers and owners who are more concerned about material gain rather than animal welfare.”