The Horse of the Month of February 2017 is the Driving Horse.
Driving horses are popular all over the world but the huge cost associated keep the sport out of the reach of most folks interested in the sport. The example pictured below shows a US driver, Suzy Stafford who ended up in 2nd place at the 2016 Single Horse World Driving Championships held in Piper, Austria.
The Horse of the Month of January 2017 is the Tennessee Walking Horse.
Soring - Note front hoofs
Alyson Wright/Chattanooga Times
Photo Courtesy USDA
X-ray image of a "performance package" on a Tennessee Walking Horse, showing shoe, "stacks"- multiple pads, multiple extra nails placed in pads to add weight and possibly pressure (known as "pressure soring") and band across hoof to hold it all on.
Natural movement - no soring
A Walking Horse Ranch
More at this link
The Tennessee Walking Horse is a tall horse with a long neck. It has been described as “refined and elegant, yet solidly built.” This breed is also known for its calm disposition and smooth gait. For this reason you will not only find it showing off its sure footedness in the show ring but it also popular as a pleasure or trail riding horse.
Tennessee Walking Horse show competitions include two categories:
1) flat shod – the horse wears regular shoes which cause it to show less exaggerated movements.
2) performance – the horse wears built up pads or “stacks” to create the very animate “Big Lick” style.
The use of stacks is, however, prohibited at USEF sponsored shows. For this reason The Tennessee Walking Horse breed is the most affected by the Horse Protection Act of 1970 which prohibits abusive practices such as the use of stacks and the application of chemical agents which create acute pain causing the horse to elevate their steps.
I received a case a few years ago that is not all that common…but it does happen.
A client and purchaser of a supposed very competitive Tennessee Walking Horse was about to sue the seller of the horse. The reason was that the show records of the horse were a bit fuzzy, as in it was impossible to find them. The reason was that the point giving associations were balking at providing stats on the Tennessee Walking Horse at all. All this because of soring the shins of these very nice horses.
The horse had been shown in the Country English Hack Division, which was very competitive indeed. Now if you’ve been asleep for many years you’d know that the Tennessee Walking Horse has to be shown under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture which required a DQP, (Designated Qualified Person), be on hand to examine the specified horses to determine there was no evidence of soring.
Soring had been widely used for many years and encouraged the horse to step his front legs very high since they hurt so much. Obviously, the national governing body, (The American Horse Shows Association now the United States Equestrian Association), kicked the Tennessee Walkers out since they continued applying the soring agents when showing, and at the time would not change.
The “BIG LICK” Walking Horse Shows in Tennessee where hundreds of hopeful spectators protested and then just didn’t show up at the 2015 shows forcing shows to all but cancel their performances. When you’ve got some time look up “Big Lick Tennessee Walking Horse Shows” and you’ll learn lots about why and how these very nice horses have been abused through the years and how it’s being brought to an end by thoughtful citizens.
Be prepared to see evidence of cruelty perpetrated by supposed “horsemen” who should be caring for their horses, not making them sore to try and get a higher.
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