Big Lick, or Soring what is it?
A recent www.change.org request, to stop the use of stacks, on Tennessee Walking Horses made me think that many people haven’t a clue what stacks are and why they are used and maybe a little explanation is in order.
Tennessee Walking Horses have what is known as an exaggerated gait which became popular in the late 1940’s and 1950s. Trainers were able to have the horse achieve this exaggerated gait by being lite shod, but it still required extensive training.
However, as this natural gait caught judges’ fancy, along comes the “Big Lick” where trainers started using other practices to enhance movements such as weighted shoes, stacked pads, and weighted chains. It wasn’t long before the methods used became more aggressive—heavier weights and chains placed against the sole of the hoof to induce pain, and the application of caustic substances on the pastern or coronary band to induce pain when those areas were rubbed by the chain.
The practice of blocking is when they grind down the sole of the horse to expose sensitive tissues in the hoof and make the hoof shorter than the sole. Then they insert hard objects between the horseshoe and the pad, standing the horse on raised blocks then they tighten a metal band around the block.
In addition to the use of chains and blocks chemicals such as kerosene, diesel oil, mustard and other caustic substances are applied to the pastern and coronary band region of the horses front legs. As the device rubs against the skin, the chemicals exacerbate the pain.
These practices are called “soring” and the final result is a horse that snatches its forelimbs off the ground.
One way to tell if a horse has been sored, is the exaggerated head movement in a sored horse as opposed to a horse that has not been sored. It is clear when they are put side by side.
Tennessean newspaper Sportswriter Mr. David Climer, is quoted in the change.org request as saying, “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty to Tennessee Walking Horses is akin to “Dog Fighting” and “Cock Fighting”. For years, many of those involved in the Tennessee walking horse industry have yearned for its competitions to be taken seriously as a legitimate sport. Bloodsport, yes. Legitimate sport, no. Sorry, but I’m calling horse excrement. Soring is still in common practice, and everybody knows it.”
Please take a moment and sign this petition.