A video capture of a horse being sored.
Batson Children’s Hospital is pulling itself from a list of charitable causes donated to by a Tennessee Walking Horse competition due to allegations of animal abuse.
A spokesperson for the University of Mississippi Medical Center told The Clarion-Ledger, which broke the story, that the hospital was thankful for past support from the Mississippi Charity Horse Show, but the controversy over soring brought the decision. “We are not in a position to evaluate the strongly held beliefs and assertions on either side of this issue, so our decision is intended to remove the Children’s Hospital from the controversy,” said Marc Rolph.
The Mississippi Walking Horse Association paints a different picture for the public of what they will see when attending the Mississippi Charity Horse Show, calling padded horses “the Peacock of the Show Ring.” The show is one of ten sanctioned by the state association.
Some in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry have been scrutinized for the use of soring, an illegal and inhumane practice used as a training shortcut to get horses to perform the “Big Lick”. Items like bolts are driven into horses’ hoofs, foreign objects are attached to horses’ legs, or chemicals like mustard oil are used to produce pain and sensitivity.
The altered gait, which is considered abuse by most horse enthusiasts, is seen as desirable for some that compete in gaited breed shows. Soring causes the horse to quickly lift its legs high after every step to alleviate the pain caused by caustic substances and contact with the ground.
The Mississippi Charity Horse Show is scheduled for late March.