Bridlepath Hall of Shame: the “big lick” TWH industry

24 09 2006

(Hello Gaits of Gold readers! I hope you enjoy my blog, and feel free to leave a comment 🙂 )

The 2006 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was cancelled after USDA inspectors disqualified six out of nine horses in the championship class for soring. Soring takes many ugly forms, but one common practice is the application of caustic substances (including: mustard oil, kerosene, crotonaldehyde, salicylic acid, diesel oil, collodion) to the coronet band and fetlock in order to get a more animated gait. You’d be throwing your feet around too if they looked and felt like this:

“Big lick” TWHs can also be subjected to having chains around their fetlocks, or heavy stacks or pads nailed onto their feet to “enhance” their gait:


Mike Walden, the owner of a horse named Private Charter, was disqualified and he was later banned from the Celebration for two years after he reportedly offered three three trainers $10,000 each to withdraw their horses. Meanwhile, an organization separate from the Celebration event – the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association – announced its plans Thursday for another event to be held Nov. 24-25 in Murfreesboro.”As far as I am concerned, we won’t be there,” trainer Bill Bobo said about his horse, Rowdy Rev. “The world championship has come and gone. This is just another horse show.” C’mon, Bill; put your big-girl panties on and face reality. According to this site, you were not only Walking Horse Trainers Association Trainer of the Year in 1989, but you were also fined and suspended on three separate occasions for soring violations. (I guess you’re in good company, though; in 33 years of this Tennessee Walking Horse industry award, only 5 recipients have no recorded violations. 23 of the honorees have been ticketed for HPA violations; 18 of them with Federal cases. Five of these HPA violators were honored more than once. Startlingly, Rowdy Rev was one of the three horses who passed inspection at this year’s show, so I guess you’re making progress)

Just to add to the fun, a horse stabled at the Celebration tested positive for rabies. Boy, that takes a caring owner, doesn’t it? Good for you, 4J Land and Cattle Company! Routine vaccinations are for wimps!

I found an interesting video on YouTube (I won’t embed it here because I don’t want the sick mofo to think I’m endorsing it) which shows the general melee after it was announced the show was cancelled (fast forward it about a minute or so). The uploader, “utlaw97” says “Rides made after last class of 2006 Walking Horse Celebration was canceled. 9.2.2006. Not the best video, but you get a good idea of what happened. Takes me a minute or so to get to a spot where I could see, and then a little more time before moved camera to get a better view. Gives a good feel of the atmosphere after the show.” His rote response to other YouTubers (heh) who commented on the abuses? “Go hug a tree.” Classy.

On the one hand, it’s wonderful to see that the USDA inspectors actually did some good by exposing the abusive practices which are still going on, but the stubborn “good ol’ boy” mentality still seems to prevail. Never mind what they’re doing to a horse’s legs and heart; much more important to get that damn ribbon. Are we seeing a pattern here, dear readers? Yes, I think we are.

There are some wonderful, caring and brave TWH owners out there. The Jackson family saga is particularly instructive: they took their beautiful stallion Champagne Watchout to the 1999 Celebration, aiming to show him in the World Grand Championship class as a flat-shod horse. They were thwarted at every turn but did manage to enter him in the end. Watchout and his young rider Natalie Jackson were roundly booed; people tried to spook the horse, and in the end they needed a police escort back to their trailer. You can read about the whole sorry mess here; be sure to watch the videos.

Don't they look nice?

Natalie Jackson and Champagne Watchout

Just to be clear, there are plenty of owners and trainers who use ordinary keg shoes on their TWHs and would never subject them to such abuse; those fortunate horses live happy lives and are well-loved and cared for. These people deserve our applause and support. In the meantime, kudos to the inspectors who pulled the show. It’s gotten a lot of attention even in the non-horsey press; maybe the days of abusive, cheating, racist hicks dominating the breed are finally numbered. The horses deserve no less.

Further reading:

Linda Polk at the Houston Chronicle site has blogged about this too: The ugliness around us, Hoping for the best, When does it end? Also see this post at Horse Training Success, and Katie Allison Granju’s letter to the editor. (The comments are particularly…enlightening)

The Sore Tennessee Walking Horse has more information, including some hard-to-look-at photos.

Lots of good info at The Soring of Horses.

Understanding Soring and Helping to Stop It has some good photos showing the odd posture and gait of sored horses.

Tennessee Walking Horse Heritage Society promotes calm, steady trail horses with little or no breeding from padded bloodlines.

Update: (9/26)

A published report in Chattanooga says two of the three judges who were going to judge a new Tennessee walking horse show in Murfreesboro have pulled out.

Brian Martin told the Chattanooga Times Free Press he got “all kinds of calls” telling him National Horse Show Commission bylaws prevent him from judging noncommision shows. Texas resident Martin says it takes a lot of work to earn a judging license and he doesn’t want to start over.

Allen Forman of Georgia cited the same restriction in canceling his agreement to judge the Murfreesboro show.

The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville ended in August without naming a national grand champion after several horses were disqualified by government inspectors. They cited evidence the animals had been “sored” to make them exaggerate their natural strutting gait.





57 responses

25 09 2006

how awful! what is WRONG w/ people?

and rabies? thats just plain crazy.

Ive heard of soring amongst the gaited horses community. Thnx for the informative post.

my heart aches for those horses that are being mistreated…

26 09 2006

Sounds like the stuff with the Jackson family smacked of a wee bit o’racism, nes ce pas? Were I them, it would be hard for me not to feel that way. Grrrr……

26 09 2006

What’s also impressive is that Natalie Jackson had just turned 15 when she rode in that class.

26 09 2006
I love my TWH

I own a TWH and respect what the Jackson family with their stallion. The “Big Lick” can be taught, but it takes several years. Trainers use the padded shoes, chains and chemical to get their money quicker. I refuse to be a member of the TWHBEA because they support padded shoes and chains. Plus their monthly magazine only caters to the “Big Lick” walker. CNN did an excellent report in 1986 on soring. You can see it at

28 09 2006
Lynda Polk

Thanks for posting a well-researched entry. The more we can get the news out, the better it will be (hopefully). Fortunately, there aren’t many Walking Horses whose feet look like the picture above – that would be too obvious. Instead, these days, we get the less obvious methods. Just last month a horse at another show was found to have ball bearings between his shoe and hoof. You can’t respect this type of trainer. Those of us who have TWH just because we love them will keep waging our small battles.

4 11 2006
Sandra Duke

Finally the horrors are being exposed, thank you for helping get the word out. I own a TWH, ex show horse, those days are over forever for him. He has some arthritis from his Big Lick days, so I don’t ride him hard. I believe soring will end in my lifetime, I pray it’s so. Again, thanks!!!!!

4 11 2006
Sandra Duke

Forgot to say I believe what happened with the Jackson family, does smack of racism. Sad.

22 11 2006

I think there is progress being made only because of the TWH world’s exposure to the outside world. They can’t operate behind a curtain of secrecy anymore.

I also own a TWH that was a show horse. I don’t know the details, but he was suspended for a year. I shudder to think what must have been done to him to earn a year’s suspension in that society. When he couldn’t be shown, he was sold to the guy I bought him from, who only used him as a trail horse. He’s a great horse, and I thank his lucky stars that he escaped the show world.

11 12 2006

Twenty years ago when I stopped showing I thought that soring was on its way out; a world champion American Saddlebred stallion had just had to be put down in his stall because he was in too much pain to rise. And stewards were being instructed to sniff under horse’s tails for ginger (to make the horse hold the tail high). Looks like things didn’t change as fast as I’d hoped.

11 03 2010
Claire Dement

American Saddlebreds are not “sored” because they must be able to trot sound. There simply isn’t any incentive to do it as one of the major criteria Saddlebreds are judged on is soundness. I don’t know what you think you saw in a stall all those years ago, but whatever difficulty this stallion was in it wasn’t because he had been sored or lamed. The abuse some big lick WHs have inflicted on them is as horrifying to Saddlebred owners as it is to anyone who cares about horses.

12 12 2006
Dark Sunshine

When I first read of this digusting and abusive pratice and saw the above photos I was horrified and digusted, almost numb and disbelieving that anyone could do that to such an innocent creature. Then I felt acute sadness for the horses that are put through this torture, the more I read about it the sadder I became, not that I wasn’t sad to begin with. Hopefully this horrific and heinious practice is on its way out, the sooner the better.

17 12 2006

I showed Saddlebreds in the 60’s and never saw a sore Saddlebred (though I saw many, many sore TWHs). I saw Weanlings gingered for halter classes, but that is all. I still own Saddlebreds because they make wonderful, tireless and brave trail horses and I love their people friendly dispositions, but I have no interest in showing them. I have never and will never own a horse with a cut tail and I will not shoe my horses in such a way that they have to spend their lives in a stall. In fact, I will never shoe a horse again. My horses have a natural trim and are sound on gravel without shoes. Two of my horses have had so much action barefoot, people constantly ask me how I “make” them do that. I don’t. It’s just who they are.

15 03 2007

I dont believe there is anything wrong with the big lick. i just think theres something wrong with the people that Abuse there horses. to the extent at the top of the page..if your going to show them in the big lick then do it right not like that…!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3 04 2007
Top posts, 2007-04-03 « Bridlepath

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8 04 2007

Those people who do that to those poor horses need to be put in prison. While in prison they need chemicals brushed on their ankles and then made to run in stillettos really fast with chains on their ankles……and when their ankles get all blistered, MORE chemicals need to be brushed on, then they need to be ran even faster!

18 04 2007
Stephen Aymett

What you failed to mention about Natalie Jackson and Champagne Watchout is that her father forced her to show in that class, to her dismay, as well as force himself on her for years prior to that night. She testified to all of this in a California court about six months later and he is now in a federal prison for child molestation on multiple accounts. Natalie has recovered, I am glad to say, from her horrific years with her father – as well as her embarrassment that night – and leads a much more peaceful and happy life. She still shows Tennessee Walking horses, only now she shows in the classes that she chooses – not the ones that she is forced to – FOR SOMEONE ELSE’S CAUSE! I’m sure none of this interests you, though. After all, it’s the truth.

19 11 2009
N. Wright

Have you ever met the Jackson’s and Champagne Watchout? Natalie is Watchout’s biggest fan and although she will tell you she was afraid of the class because of the hostility towards her and her horse, she wouldn’t have traded it for the world. Also, the pictures after the class prove her father was thrilled for her performance and how she handled herself. Her smiles and genuine hugs for him show no fear or detest, just happiness. Watchout and natalie are still doing demos and exhibitions proving to the world that the light shod walking horse is the way to go.

18 04 2007

Stephen: got a source for this? When I Googled your name, it seems that you’re pretty successful Big Lick exhibitor so I’m sure you’re not biased.

Nice scholarship. I went to a real university, btw.

2 05 2007
Bridlepath top posts, 2007-05-02 « Bridlepath

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23 05 2007


24 08 2007
Nathanael "The Preacher" Jackson

WOW! I was sent this link and was surprised, pleasantly so at the sentiments of other folks about the issues surrounding the soring practices in our wonderful breed of horses. First off, I have never been to prison, I did serve two years in Viet Nam as a Combat Medic, (they never seem to factor that in)…and none of my kids have ever been molested by me or anyone else….

In every major milestone in the world of major change…there was an “Polarizing Event” that got it started…Pearl Harbor, Rosa Parks, Sept 11th, Fort Sumter, these events polarized people to act together as one and stop the in-fighting and focused their attention to the problem before them….Our showing the Flat Shod Sound Moving Tennessee Walking Horse in 1999 …shone the light on many distrubing practices going on…it polarized many from across the world to weigh in on the issues. People do not like to see animals, especially domesticated animals abused, such as Dog fighting, Walking Horses,…Cock Fighting does not get the dander up as much as these because quite frankly, we eat chickens…..

But animals that we endear ourselves to as pets, companions, and yes, friends..we do not like seeing suffering.

Folks like you and me…say and do something about this injustice as we should…we were COMMANDED by God to be “Good Stewards” for these animals and some don’t care what The Good book says to do as long as they get their fun out of it…well, in civilized society…we try our best to put a stop to it….and that’s is what list like this do…I commend you all for fighting “A Good fight”

Thank you for your support

Nathanael “The Preacher” Jackson

2 09 2007
Rhea Ellis

My husband and I have had TWH for years I have often said only a horse with the sweet trusting nature of the TWH would stand and still trust people .Soring is not the the least of it broken glass nails anything that causes pain and the foot to be lifted higher and to get away from the pain.
I am an avid flat shod person . It is not just TWH though I have see QH necks tied up high for hours and bled before a big show. Lots of things are done to horses in the name of the almighty dollar.

3 09 2007
Pleasure Gaits

Also in Europe we are concerned about what is happening in the USA.

In 2006 we’ve founded Natural Walking Horses. “Natural Walking Horses” is a group of Tennessee Walking Horse enthusiasts who support the Tennessee Walking Horse and the natural ability and gaits where they are originally bred for.

“Natural Walking Horses” foster the respectful and humane treatment of Tennessee Walking Horses through increased public awareness and education, and to encourage the enhancement of each animal’s natural gait through good horsemanship.

Our aim is to give a good example so others will follow. Another achievement would be that people will realize not all Tennessee Walking Horses are on pads and sored.

Feel free to visit our website: and show your support or join our NWH forum!

27 09 2007

Here’s a great article by Robert Miller. Sums it all up.

And YOU, Mr. Aymett, your accusations (true or false, I don’t know) are beside the point that the big-lick horses really are just… WRONG. How anyone, anywhere, justifies that kind of thing done to horses is beyond me. It’s even worse than AQHA Western Pleasure or maybe even Thoroughbred racing, which are bad enough. Ugh.

2 10 2007
ashley blair

people like most of you all on here are why the industry is in the shape it is. Showing a light shod horse in a stake class is the dumbest thing i have ever seen show him in a class he is shid for. go to a race track and see how many horse have hurt legs and there tryin to get one more damn race out of them. go to a saddlebred barn they drive them crazy see what there doin to them. It is not the walking horse people all at blame. There are alot of people mad cause of some of the prices where gettin for these horses and there plug ass horses arnt worth the sweat on there butt. i have a 3yr old that takes no fixin and a 3 ounce chain and can step good real good. but a 3 ounce chain is cruel. so is shootin al those different things into a race horses veins. what about the amish check them out. padds arent cruel cains arnt cruel there no different than you wearing a bracelett if you take care of it it wont get in bad shape. padded horses have been around a long time and i do see them goin anywhere anytime soon. Theres enough money in the industry to keep all the back yard know it alls out. so shut up and let us show are horses

9 02 2014
Suzanne Francis

, I totally agree with you! I have had walking horses for 40 years show horses and pleasure horses.What that little girl did was wrong and the bell boots were banned fron the horses years ago because they cut the horses ankes,why was she aloud to use them? My best show horse had a stack that weight 2 lbs and showed in a 3 ounce chain, a piece of rope for a bit no curb chain and obeyed voice and leg commands .I did not wear spurs.We won almost every class we enterd.It took a year to teach him to canter,I sat still and did not move my hands,it was like a rocking chair! Just because the horse wears pads and chains does not mean they are sore! People are getting carried away with this soreing thing,some horses stand funny wene they are wearing a tail set,its not very comfortable,they only wear it for a liitle while. I saw a saddlebred trainer put a gunny sack over a his horses head and then light it on fire,then ript off and the horse went crazy! They then went into the show ring,I saw a saddlebred given Cocain sayin, ? She will be higher than a kite! ” chains under the bell boots with blood funning down,I was told to mind my own business! A fire extinguisher was set off in the face of a Hackny Pony ,he went crazy, they showd him like that and the second way of the ring he jumped the rail smashing the cart and throwing the driver,the horse lay still,dead!!! All of this is discusting cruel! Its time for other breeds to clean up their act.

2 10 2007
ashley blair

hey mr.jackson you said people eat chickens people eat horse in france. i like your horse hes not stake horse material. light shod material i think you would do really good in that class maybe but probly not now. i bet you dont know a thing about go jo or any other kind of forgien substance used on horses there alot of horse out there sound but are on pads thats why there performance horses.

2 10 2007

they padd saddlebreds thats ok. they also fix them. thats ok to cause there is only one horse on the planet and thats a walkin horse

5 10 2007
Tony Cheval

So I watched the show video.

Out of all those horses, I saw exactly ONE that fit the description set by Johnny Cash in ‘Tennessee Stud’.

I’ll leave it to you all to figure out which one that is.

29 01 2008

i think you all are ridiculous. yes, the walking horse industry does this but so does every other horse industry. I mean look at what they do to the saddlebreds. They are so inbred, they are insane. Even the Quarter Horse, “Americas horse”, if you look closely, you will see how much pressure it puts on their hocks when they go around a barrel, pole, cutting, or calf roping. If you had any sense at all you would clearly see their legs are going to be shot after a few years. Even the western pleasure horses, they give them shots to calm them down or bleed them, and either tie their necks up all night or put a weight on their necks to make their head hang down so low. It’s stupid everyone is so anti-walking horse, just because we use a pad and chain in public, look around and you’ll see every breed does something to their horses.

8 02 2008
Melissa Kaminski

This is in response to the above comment by Blaze. Are you seriously going to use that excuse? ‘Other people do it, so it is okay that I do it.’ It is not okay that any breed of horse do any sort of cruelty. I am not affiliated with any gaited breeds, but I feel compelled to do something about this. Anyone one that reats theri animals in this way better not ever say they love their horses. The fact that other people are being cruel does NOT make it okay. I have to say that your comment is ridiculous.

10 02 2008

I’m not saying that, I’m just saying you all are very ill-informed. Everyone is very discriminatory towards the walking horses, just because they do a different lick from from other breeds.

6 03 2008

I’m sure the fact that the industry closes ranks every time the spotlight swings its way has nothing to do with it, or the racist, semi-literate, libelous shite that comes out of the rednecks’ mouths, or the whole hee-haw mentality. Yup, nothing to worry about there, so long as you can impress the other hicks with your horse’s grotesque spidery movement.

3 05 2008

They don’t sore horses anymore (maybe, at one time in the 80’s..before they had the DQP that would inspect the horses at EVERY show)–Check out a trainers barn once in a while idiot. These horses are treated better than most humans are today! These horses that are being shown get food, water whenever they want, exercise daily, baths daily, shelter, haircuts, brushing and their mane/tail combed and braided to reduce tangling. At my trainers barn (and pretty much every other barn with show horses) each one has a personal fan right beside its stall that is used when its hot, and they are covered in warm blankets when it is too cold.I remember being at a horse show where I was sweating my butt off, and I looked over to see my little horse with a huge fan blowing on her– They are treated with the most amazing care! The chains that are on their feet are also generally less than half a pound (2 ounces and 4 ounces are the usual..anything more than 6oz is illegal–do you know how light that is? Pick up 3-4 pens and that’s about the same weight).
Oh and the chains are only there to keep the horse in rhythm–They are pacy without them..If you guys even know what that means. lol.

It makes me so mad how most of the people who post things like this are forming opinions based on what they have heard from the media NOT from firsthand experience of seeing a person soring horse (its not even done anymore). Wake up and form your own opinions guys. And please, think for yourselves. Once, we bought a padded horse just to keep at our barn and practice riding (not to show). He stepped up very high, and I know I NEVER sored it–nor did our vet, nor did our friend we bought him from.

These horses naturally step up without pads. Quarter horses or morgans couldn’t reach out like our breed if you put pads on them.

Anyone want to ask me any questions… or send me hate mail for sticking up for a breed that I love–drop me a email at


3 05 2008

OH and another thing I forgot, check out the race horses..At the Ketucky derby one had to be put down RIGHT after he competed! Much dangerous sport! When have you ever seen that at a Walking horse show?? I have many old horses in my pasture that used to be show horses (and one has won multi world grand champions) and they range from 15-39 years old! How well you take care of a horse determines how long they will end up living..Just goes to show how well these horses are taken care of!

4 05 2008

So did you read the first line of the post or not?

The 2006 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was cancelled after USDA inspectors disqualified six out of nine horses in the championship class for soring.

I’ve written about the racehorses plenty of times…idiot. Today, even.

4 05 2008

Amazing how some will justify hurting an animal. It is so common to move the attention to something else (early breakdown of racehorses, etc) to take the heat off oneselves or the issue they do not want to discuss.

Why put pads and chains on a horse? Why cut his tail? Why not enjoy him for what he is, not a grotesque pawing-the-air, staggering, cartoon character of a horse? What will it take to make the people who do this to their horses understand that it is a violation of humanity and God’s will – Hey, but that’s ‘tradition’! Don’t mess with tradition! Be like a sheep and follow the crowd instead of your heart. Sorry, I just can’t understand the mindset…

It’s a disgusting practice that needs to be stopped. I fully support FOSH and the Jacksons and everyone else who has the heart and conviction – and the strength – to fight soring.

4 05 2008

And yes, there are a lot of bad practices out there still involving the horse world, but the subject here is soring in the TWH breed.

23 05 2008

I think Mary is the only one on here with some sense. Everyone else: get your facts straight or mind your own business. I’m so tired of hearing people falsely acuse the walking horse industry when half the time they don’t know what their talking about.

30 05 2008

So did you read the first line of the post or not?

The 2006 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was cancelled after USDA inspectors disqualified six out of nine horses in the championship class for soring.

I’ve written about the racehorses plenty of times…idiot. Today, even.

Yes, I did read your post, and the USDA hates us, I’m fully aware of that. They will pinch, poke, and prod until the little horse they are inspecting moves just a little bit. Then, they will get them for the sensitivity rule. I’ve seen it done MANY a time by the USDA. The horse will pass with flying colors through the DQP, then those ugly men in the blue jumpsuits (the USDA) gets ahold of the horse and does everything in their power to stop the horse from entering the ring to show. When you squeeze a horse’s leg…Say even a 2 year old..for about 5-8 minutes, they probably WILL move. They may be JUST shifting their weight, but chances are, they will move….And the USDA will be there to call you on it. Pathetic.

9 06 2008

C’mon people………….you all do realize that yes, we are talking about the Tn. Walking Horse, but regardless of that… abuse can be prevelant in all breeds!!!!! I think people concentrate more on the padded Walking Horses because they have such a distingushed gait when on pads!!! What gets me is, you go to these shows… DQP’s check your horses and the sored horse gets through anyway (most of the time), then the Government shows and all of a sudden the same horses that were getting through cant pass and trainers are getting ticketed!!! Why are the DQP’s not getting ticketed??? You know, I have struggled with this whole soring thing for about 2 years… my daughter has shown padded before and loved it…we also have shown flat shod and loved it… the Tennessee Walking Horse is like no other breed in my opinion… they are something else to own and to show!!! What I want everyone to realize is that even the flat shod Walking horses can be sored!!! It is not just the padded horses!!!!!!!!! What I ask of those who are putting so much effort to make the TWH industry so known… look into the other breeds…it’s everywhere…not just the Walking Horse!!! I will say this… I think anytime a horse is hurt to the point that it can’t walk, or it is laying down in the stall and can’t get up, or it is in the show ring, and it is struggling, or it is just not “happy” acting.. the person that did harm to that horse ought to have someone do the same thing to him, but triple worse….they will have to answer for that harm in some way some day. IT IS NOT OKAY, but…………if you have a horse that can go out there, and do that big lick, with there head held high, and an owner that is on the sidelines watching or on the back of that horse, I say there is nothing any better!!!!!!!!! I think you can take anything to the extreme, but if you have a good, honest trainer and a good horse, I say let the Tennessee Walking Horse ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

17 07 2008
Shawna Bloom

I am the proud owner of 5 Tennessee Walking Horses. They are all extremely well gaited, smooth and adoring animals that carry us effortlessly and comfortable over miles and miles of trails. Every one of them is animated and has great timing to their gait. One of our mares actually breaks at the knee while still maintaining her timing and smoothness. She is animated and showy. Did I mention they are ALL BAREFOOT? That’s right!! Animation and extension as well as perfect timing of gait CAN BE BRED FOR!! It does NOT have to be artificially produced. I have a great idea for the TWHBEA that would all but eliminate the soring/pressure shoeing problems that have infiltrated this breed… Require that for the next 5 years ALL TWHBEA horses must be shown barefoot. HIre judges that KNOW GAIT. Prize the horses on their INHERENT qualities, not their man-made ones. The horses should be judged on their conformation as well as their “PURITY OF GAIT”.

I would bet everything I own that if the horses were required to show barefoot not only would the breed clean up it’s act but the TRUE well gaited horses with the NATURAL INHERENT running walks will be those that prevail. Not only will the breed clean up it’s image BUT the breed will improve! The pacier “Big Lick” fake movers will be bred out and the natural gait will come back even stronger.

IF JUDGES QUIT PLACING the fake-gait type of horses, people will start showing what they can win with… The natural ones. JMHO -Shawna

24 07 2008


There are alot of padded horses out there that are “natural”. You can usually tell by looking at a padded horse if they look forced in comparison to the ones who look very natural, sort of like they are walking on a cloud….. BTW some padded performance horses have gone flat shod and done well too 🙂

30 07 2008

wow, u ppl that just go around reading about how HORRIBLY the TWHs are treated need to SERIOUSLY get your facts straight!!!!! I own a double-registered, TWH, SSH. she’s amazing. she’s a lite-shod horse, but for a long time i was at a professional training barn. Yes, i agree, soring should be banned, it’s horrible! But what’s the problem with pads and chains? if worn and cared for correctly, they don’t cause a problem at all. many padded horses are natural and not sored. and yeah, it wasnt exactly smart of the Jacksons to ride a lite-shod horse in a stake’s class. it is quite frowned apon. and, defrostindoors????? spidery- looking???? well, i think ur saddle breds and quarter horses look strained and drained. speaking of which….saddle breds are sored on all FOUR feet, and get wedges on all 4. i was at a SMALL show, and i saw some REDICULOUS saddlebred trainer that had something (idk what) attached to the horse’s feet and then elastic straps running to it’s bit. ?????what is that? and those poor, poor quarter horses, having their blood drained out of them until they’re about to collapse. i think a little chain is a LOT better than that. Bash us walking horse supporters all you want…. at least we know first hand what we’re talking about.

3 01 2009

I have been riding and showing American Saddlebreds for a long time – I don’t know much about TWH’s, only having ridden one (coincidentally a Big Lick stallion, ‘unsored’). However, those of you ‘downing’ chains and padded shoes should maybe go pick up one of these ‘outrageously heavy’ items and actually see just how ‘heavy’ they are.

A pair of 5 lb padded shoes is no more weight to a 1200 lb animal than it is for us to wear a pair of heavy shoes ourselves. These padded shoes act as a SHOCK, as on a car, to lesson the impact when the foot meets the ground. They act very smally as a ‘gait enhancer.’

As far as chains are concerned – these are used as a gait enhancer – and used only during excercise as encouragement to help strengthen the leg muscles (Ever heard of ankle weights or weight lifting?). If you actually felt the weight of them – these are less struggle, again, for a 1200 lb animal than wearing a bracelet or watch is to you or me.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t condone ‘soring’ of any sort – But please know the difference between training aids and cruelty before making accusations.

27 05 2009
Bridlepath Hall of Shame the big lick TWH industry Bridlepath | Shed Kits

[…] Bridlepath Hall of Shame the big lick TWH industry Bridlepath Posted by root 1 day 1 hour 46 minutes ago ( I hope you enjoy my blog and feel free to leave a comment much pressure it puts on their hocks when they go around a barrel pole cutting or calf roping at my trainers barn and pretty much every other barn with show horses each one has a personal blog at w Discuss  |  Bury |  News | bridlepath hall of shame the big lick twh industry bridlepath […]

17 01 2010
T. May.

The Big Lick is nothing more than a fashionable LIMP and is the epitemy of
A-B-U-S-E Plain and simple. If you take the pads, shoes and everything else off those same horses’ hooves and walk them around the ring they would not have the same gait and you all KNOW IT! Which means a FACT: The only reason they are walking that way is because of the crap you’ve got nailed all over their feet. That isn’t natural. It’s nothing more than making a horse uncomfortable in order to make it step a certain way. The very idea of it is retarded to say the least. What do you people get out of making an animal so uncomfortable that it fights and struggles with a contraption on it’s feet making it walk oddly like that? Oh right. I forgot. It’s that good ol fashioned Soputhern pride and tradition isn’t it? Well, so was hanging black people from trees. But we don’t do that crap anymore either! You backyard rednecks need to learn once and for all that animals aren’t commodities and they also aren’t made of rubber. Your Big Lick gait you’re all so proud of is nothing more than a glorified LIMP. An animal limping because it’s in pain and or extremely uncomfortable. But no matter because the way things go in this country, sooner or later (sooner is my predicton) people are more and more becoming politically correct and the more attention is brought to this type of thing, the more people will get disgusted by it til it’s finally cut of it’s funding, it’s donations, and it’s audiences. It WILL end. All it takes is media attention and people will be more and more outraged. Just like they get over any abused animal story. It just takes the right headline. And it could happen overnight. You people don’t honestly believe that making these animals limp like this will go on forever do you? In the day of Marley and Me, and Barbaro. It wont be long. Peta loves to stir the pudding on crap like this. TWH shows are numbered. Mock my words.

17 01 2010
T. May.

To Eric’s comment.

These animals are having their front legs jacked up with the rider seated just behind the shoulders putting extreme pressure on the nerves in legs and back muscles. How about you try this. Go get some of those big, wedge, wooden platform shoes people wore in the 70’s and 60’s. Weight them down a bit with a chain. Put them on, now pick up anyone’s 10 or 12 yr old child (preferably one who’s overweight), put them up on your back piggy-back style…. now go jogging for a half hour or so…then come back in here and let us all know how ya feel.

30 03 2010

Stephen Aymett- I dont know where your getting your information from but as my dad said what he said. I think you should Know the facts b4 you try and distroy someone bc when ur facts are wrong u end up lookin like a HATER.


1 04 2010
Nathanael Jackson


“Train up a child which way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it’

She is her father’s daughter…we know the truth of the matter of what happened and at that time we did not undertand all of the why’s…but 11 years later, we can see how pieces now fit together in that situation.

I enjoy a good discussion of differentng opinions, many people around the world do not get that chance, so I say to you all…go on, say what you feel…but let’s try something different…let’s pretend we are the horses…what do you think they are saying about it all?

In the barn area, like in the story “Animal Farm’..exactly what do you think they are saying to each other? you think they see their trainers and riders as Farmer Brown?…And do you remember what happened to Farmer Brown?…makes ya kinda go “Hmmmm?” don’t it?

The Preacher

12 04 2010
JM Degville

Jesus Christ, will you please help these people. Mary YOU are a friggin idiot. YES soring still exisits, your so called trainers are just way more savvy on how they do it so they won’t get caught and get a little slap on the wrist. You are also probably one of those individuals that sends your horse off to a “trainer” where it stands around in a stall all day long developing all sorts of ulcers and wonderful stall vices. You probably come out to ride your “show horse” once every two weeks and then show up at the shows and when you don’t win your class you tell your trainer to “FIX IT” and he does just that. I show horses and have for 20 years, I have owned every division of horse and I know what goes on in training barns. No, not all big lick horses are sored but most are chemically enhanced and DO NOT DO THAT ON THEIR OWN. I am going to assume you are one of those individuals that BELIEVES that the USDA is out to get you. LMAO Um, hello, the scum bags of the walking horse industry brought that on themselves and people like myself and my friends I show with are forced to put up with all the mistakes people like you and your so called trainers have caused. I am going to assume that you think the Tungston shoes are a brilliant idea too? And that Gojo is not “fixing” a horse? If it’s not fix then why do it? Why not just like the other people have suggested on here, show barefoot? Because your horses can’t do it and you breed for a horse that you need gimmicks and chemicals to win with. What’s so frickin funny is that it’s not like you win anything in this industry anyway. You win a god damned ribbon, that’s it. And all of you people saying to other breeds do this and that, shame on you for trying to justify any abuse to these animals by recounting other abuses in other breeds. Its all horrible and the punishments are a slap on the wrist. It’s embarrassing and I for one am glad the USDA and people like Tony Edwards are running the horse show HIO’s and checking these horses for pressure shoeing, soundness, and all over your trainers “tricks in a bag” approaches to what the call TRAINING your horses. These big name trainers are a joke, most of them are just master chemists, they do exactly what needs to be done with chemicals to make their horse step and mentally condition them to the abuse, then when a show is in a few days they “let up” on the “motion lotion” and the horse only knows to walk like it’s been fixed. The industry has cleaned up SOME, but really, for the most part, they have just figured out better ways to cheat without getting caught. That is of course where the tungston shoe, pressure shoeing and your overly tight caveson and saddle bur tricks all came from….your top notch “trainers” – What many of you don’t understand is that if you make something hurt WORSE on a horse’s body, like put a saddle bur under it’s saddle or tighten the caveson or curb chain so tight that’s all the horse thinks about, so if it’s feet hurt from being sored or pressure shod, the horse is only thinking about it’s newest or greatest spot of pain, not it’s feet. The other area of pain is taking precedence over it’s sored feet, so the DQP inspects the horse and the horse seems to be compliant. No one is to blame for the TWH industry’s downfall but the crappy ribbon hungry owners and the trainers themselves who will do anything for a dollar. Stop placing blame on everyone else, own up to your cheating ways and take responsibility for having shitty horses that can’t do what they are bred to do without gimmicks, gojo, 50 pound shoes, and fix, then we can move forward. Until then, I will be turning the POS trainers and owners in to the USDA and the show commissions, I don’t care if you are my friend, if you cheat and I find out, I am turning you in. You don’t like it, quit cheating and get some effin dignity. You people walk around with your crosses on and bow your heads at the beginning of a horse show to pray for the safety of these horses blah blah blah, what a joke, you people are the biggest danger to the safety of these animals, you and your egos to win a god damned ribbon.

Kudos to the Jacksons, I was there that year at the Celebration and that family did something many of us only dreamed of doing. They are a great family with great NATURAL horses and this industry should thank them for what they did. ANYONE should be able to enter the stake, it is the BEST IN SHOW of the WORLD TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE CELEBRATION, just as Shout – the mare should have won it years ago, our good ole boy politics came into play.

12 04 2010
JM Degville

and they gave it away to the person who wrote a check to the judge for the highest dollar amount. Not only do TWH horse people have to show with cheaters and animal abusers we have to deal with the ridiculous politics of judges and former DQP’s. I show becasue I love to show my horses with my friends, sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t but I still congratulate those that beat me and I don’t go back to my barn and mix up some chemicals as a plan to beat my competition, no, I tell myself that I am going to need some more sweaty saddle pads and riding time and hope that my horse’s natural talent and good breeding will prevail in front of an honest judge.

9 11 2010
Nikki J.

I was told how to properly train a TWH horse when I first acquired one in 2002. Despite the fact that I had competed in dressage, hunter, jumper and CTR’s, I was told all of this knowledge I had could not be used on a TWH. The first “sin” i commited was working the horse in a true two beat trot. Contrary to what all of the so-called experts said, the horse did remember his god-given flat and running walk afterwards. Trotting him helped with creating roundness in the topline and balancing him equally in both directions. Second “sin” was only using a full cheek or ring snaffle on him for training. All bits were also smooth; no twisted wires, chains, bicycle chain mouths or curb shanked bits used here. The third “sin” was teaching the horse to move laterally. We could shoulder-in, haunches out and sidepass down the trail, all at either the flat walk, running walk, TROT, and canter. This came in handy on a CTR (competitive trail ride) when one obstacle was to step over a log with the front feet and then side pass down the length of the log (10 feet). There were many, many other horses who could not complete this task. Fourth and final “sin” was our jumping training. I frequently took this gelding foxhunting and we did jump with the rest of the pack. Additionally, we trotted over ground poles and even jumped courses at the house. Of course at the end of the hunt, I could put him into a nice running walk next to all of those warmbloods and tb’s who were jigging back to their trailers! They were flabbergasted to see him move and thought he was “one of them” while we were in the field. Also, we did all of the above barefoot as he had feet like iron.
It disqusts me to see TWH’s showing. I often wondered why it was such a big deal for them to change direction until I read the Jackson’s story. Now I think I know why. When I was looking for a horse, a big selling point people used was that the horse knew how to back up! Like it was a miracle! Anyone with any horsemanship can teach a horse basic commands, it’s those who resort to shortcuts and inhummane methods that often lack the fundamentals of horsemanship.

31 08 2011
Joe Scott

It’s funny that the people and trainers that always deny that this practice takes place never actually say that they DON’T believe in soring. They only deny it and say they’re unfairy accused, “look at the other breeds etc.” If they’re not soring and doing what they’re supposed to do, I doubt they would have trouble making it through an inspection. Ain’t nobody gonna convince me that there is such thing as a big lick horse (that can win in big time competition), that hasn’t been sored. All these trainers that claim to be innocent of all this, I would like to issue them a challange. Let an inspector set up camp in a motor home next to your barn, say for a couple of weeks before the Celebration. Allow no one in that barn unless he’s in there. Allow him to overlook everything that goes on, nothing off limits. I know if I was persistently, “wrongly”, being accused of something I was innocent of, I would do anything to clear my reputation. I would be willing to bet my
right testicle that none of these big time, big lick, “trainers” (joke), would allow such. And why??, because the results they are paid to obtain would not be obtainable under those circumstances. I recall the above Mr. Aymett being interviewed on TV, 15 or 20 years ago, about
how the walking horse industry had cleaned up it’s act and in no time, he was up for some kind of big time violation and suspension. It’s a joke man. Besides torturing these horses, the next saddest thing to me about it all is that the foundation and purpose of the TWH has been lost in something that is totally unnatural. And sadly, that is what most people that go to the shows really want to see. I shudder to think what the likes of Mr. Albert Dement and other early breeders and
trainers would say if they could see what it all has turned into. And the next thing is that it ain’t gonna stop because there is too much money behind it. 250,000 plus people ain’t gonna come to Shelbyville to watch an old timey, natural walking horse. It would be like at a NASCAR race announcing to the crowd, ” hey folks, next week you won’t be seeing these rockets on the track anymore, we will be racing again the cars like we had in the 40’s and 50’s. Go over like a lead balloon. The Jacksons proved that with what they did in 99. I was there. I commend them for what they did and the point they tried to make. It also makes me sad to think about what the walking horse would be today had soring never gotten into it… only focusing on real training and breeding on the building blocks of the best natural horses that ever existed instead of the ones that could handle soring
and excel at the artificial gaits. To end soring is to do away with the Celebration and a lot of other big time stuff. It ain’t gonna happen,
kinda like drinking and drugs, here to stay.


13 11 2011
steve gilbert

If the horse with the big lick,wasn’t gifted with natural motion,no matter what he was wearing on his feet wouldnt give him his extended motion.THe Idea of the build up of pads is to give the horse exagerated motion,which is what is wanted with the high going show horse.This is the same for the trotting horses,such as Morgans and Saddlebreds.The Morgan has a limit in toe length with pads,in both the Park classes and pleasure classes.Even the Arab uses a pad,but its more for protection of the foot

22 05 2012
more soring in the news - Page 3

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22 05 2012

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