Soring is a process used in Tennessee Walking Horses to increase their foot action and make their foot action faster and higher in an exaggerated gait for the show ring. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP)have recently called for a ban of soring. Although soring has been illegal for 40 years, horse trainers seem to find increasingly shrewd and more difficult to detect methods of soring and soring still plagues the walking horse industry. The AVMA and AAEP statement indicates they support a ban on the use of action devices and performance packages in the training and showing of Tennessee Walking Horses. Action devices used in training of these horses include chains, ankle rings, collars, rollers, and bracelets of wood and aluminum beads. When used in conjunction with chemicals that irritate the skin in the area of the pastern, the motion of the action devices creates a painful response that results in a more exaggerated gait.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates irritating foreign substances are detected at a very high rate on the pasterns of these horses at pre-show inspections. Also, performance packages that are also called stacks or pads are attached below the sole of the natural hoof and have a metal band that runs around the hoof wall to keep them in place. These performance packages can be made of plastic, wood, leather, rubber, or a combination. These packages add weight to the horse’s feet causing the feet to strike with more force and at an abnormal angle to the ground. These performance packages also conceal items causing pain on the sole of the horse’s feet that also increases the height of the horse’s gait.
VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org.