Horse soring is a common practice that is banned in most states, but it is still rampant in the southeast. To avoid being caught in this practice, horse owners are encouraged to follow federal law and have all horses inspected after winning a class. Many states have also enacted state laws to prevent soring.
The US Department of Agriculture has a policy against soring, but it is not enforced. This is because of insufficient enforcement and a weak self-policing system. The USDA conducts some inspections, but it relies on “designated qualified persons” (DQPs) to identify abuses. Most DQPs are exhibitors of Tennessee walking horses, and this often results in ineffective enforcement, allowing those who abuse horses to get away with it. In 2010, an inspector general’s investigation into the DQP program found a clear conflict of interest.
Soring is cruel to horses and can result in laminitis and painful skin. Chemical agents are often used in this practice. Diesel fuel, kerosene, and mustard oil are among the most common chemicals used for soring. The chemicals can burn and cause blisters on the horse’s legs and can also be toxic or carcinogenic. Horse trainers must wear protective gloves when applying these chemicals. Another common practice involves pressure shoeing, where the horse’s feet are over-trimmed.
There are two main methods of soring horses. The mechanical method involves putting chains or weights on the front hooves of the horse. A third method is chemical soring, in which a horse’s sore feet are treated with caustic substances, which cause blistering and pain. These substances can include mustard oil, kerosene, and salicylic acid.
While chemical soring involves applying a caustic chemical to a horse’s leg, mechanical soring involves applying a device to the horse’s hooves. These devices cause the hooves to become painful and may increase the horse’s gait.
Thermography is a diagnostic tool that can help veterinarians determine if a horse has soring problems. It is a non-invasive procedure and does not involve touching the animal. It is also ideal for evaluating the effects of medications and hoof care equipment. A thermal imaging camera will capture the infrared radiation that is coming from the skin of the animal. The results will be displayed on a colour screen. The colour of the hot spots will reflect the severity of the inflammation, with red being the most serious.
During the thermographic examination, veterinarians should make notes regarding the horse’s age, gender, type of performance, training intensity, saddle fit, and previous veterinary examinations. Thermography can detect subclinical inflammation as well.
The United States Equestrian Federation has a ban on the use of chains for horse soring. However, some organizations exempt certain devices for use in horse shows. Specifically, the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TNWHEA) allows the use of chains.
A recent study found that horses with light weight chains felt very little pain when rung. Despite that, chains have been a visual representation of the industry’s biggest problem. Soring involves applying chemicals to the horse’s ankles, which irritate the skin. The intention is to make the horse kick higher and feel more pain.
A new law will prevent soring practices by forcing inspectors to become licensed through the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Currently, the horse industry trains its own inspectors, which creates a conflict of interest. Moreover, the USDA has noted that federal inspectors consistently find more sored horses than private inspectors.
Equine welfare groups oppose soring
The practice of soring horses for human consumption is widely opposed by animal welfare organizations. This practice is cruel and is prohibited by the Horse Protection Act. The procedure involves causing blisters and irritants to the forelegs of horses. The process is done to make the horses appear more impressive in competitions, especially those that use walking horses.
Equine welfare groups oppose the practice for several reasons. They argue that the procedure violates both animal welfare laws and First Amendment rights. They also claim that the surgery is extremely risky and can cause the mare to die from trauma and complications.