Are the days of the Big Lick Walkers numbered?

Fran Jurga reports in her Hoof Blog that the USDA has taken action to restrict the use of Pads and Action Devices.
Fran Jurga reports in her Hoof Blog that the USDA has taken action to restrict the use of pads and action devices. Read her article here.

My first reaction when I saw Fran’s article was, it’s about time! Big Lick Walking Horses have been (in my opinion) subjected to an unusually perverted form of torture under the auspices of “performance” for many years. Who, after all, actually wants their horse to have gaits like this so badly that they use keg shoes, chains and soring?

Compare this to the more traditional Tennessee Walking horse below.

Obviously, the exaggerated gait achieved in the show ring, is not exactly natural. The sad part is how it is achieved. The video below is from an investigation undertaken by the Humane Society.

According to the Hoof Blog article:

The out-of-the-ordinary rule will strip hoof equipment off show ring “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking and racking horses, once and for all. While pads, shoe bands, weighted shoes and action devices (“chains”) may not directly “sore” the horse, they have been implicated as part-and-parcel of the decades-long soring debacle.

Walking horses will be forbidden to wear their trademark pad stacks and pastern chains, beginning 30 days from the filing, which may be today or early next week. Beginning January 1, 2018, a horse may wear a pad or pads only if it is prescribed by a veterinarian to treat a specific condition.

The new rule does not impose a shoe weight limit or a toe length limit, but does limit use to a “keg or similar conventional horseshoe”.

Note that the ban doesn’t prevent horses from being shod in pads, rather it bans the use of pads that raise the heel over 1″. And even then, they can be used for medical purposes.

Let’s just hope that this makes a difference for those Big Lick horses, because despite years of exposure, the practice is still going strong.

5 thoughts on “Are the days of the Big Lick Walkers numbered?

  1. Blows my mind that a horse woman who had a pony ride business at a farmer’s market near Malibu had to shut down due to “animal cruelty” concerns (non-horse people felt it was wrong to make the poor beasts tote kids around in a circle one day a week) a couple of years ago and yet this “industry” has still been accepted and not criminalized. I remember my niece took riding lessons for a very short time at a Saddlebred barn and she said the horses were never outside in daylight because they weren’t allowed to let their coats fade from the sun. Ug.

    1. Yes, I feel the same way about the fuss and bother that’s made by animal rights activists over very benign activities when compared to some of the true cruelty that exists. And yet, there are people who love the Big Lick horses and will fight to continue these practices.

  2. Those poor horses. The one in the show ring looks absolutely tortured to me and I can’t watch it without crying. Anyone treating a horse like this should be harshly punished (maybe nail some weights to their feet and make them do the can-can all day long for a few years?).

    I really hope this new ban helps those otherwise unbelievably beautiful horses come back to their natural gaits and beautiful performance steps.

  3. I am an Australian who owns horses. I feel sick reading about what they do to these horses. This is barbaric and these people should really be gaoled for such cruelty. I find it hard to believe that such a civilised country as the US allows this to continue.

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