This week’s Metro Pulse has a sickening cover story on the practice of abusing Tennessee Walking Horses in order to achieve the crowd-pleasing “big lick” gait.
Writer Leslie Wylie gives the best explanation I have seen so far on how and why trainers abuse these horses. She quotes a marketing consultant as saying that the National Walking Horse Celebration, which takes place every August in Shelbyville, has $38 million annual economic impact on the region. That sounds high to me, but there is no question that the Celebration pulls in large numbers of people and dollars.
The repeated accounts of soring, reported this year in The New York Times and other publications, make Tennessee look terrible. What other state hosts such a large event centered on abusing animals? The Walking Horse industry, controlled by the very people who benefit from soring, will never, so to speak, take the right steps.
It is time for Tennessee state government, working with the feds, to bring soring to an end. Increase the fines, put some people in jail–whatever it takes. This practice has to stop.