What’s wrong with that horse?
It’s a question most people who are unfamiliar with the Tennesse Walking Horse show circuit usually ask when they see a padded or “Big Lick” horse move for the first time.
The horse in the following video makes us like yesterday’s sellers a little better. At least their youngster wasn’t started under saddle yet! This one’s apparently a late yearling, but I guess “coming 2” sounds better – because by 2 all horses are ready to cart around a grown man, right?
If you’re wondering why she’s being encouraged to move like an epileptic German Shepard, it’s because that’s what wins in the show ring. Don’t believe us? Here’s the victory lap of the 2010 TWHNC World Grand Champion…
Funny how Tennessee Walkers were originally bred to be smooth strided horses who could quickly cover long distances with minimal effort. What ever happened to the good ol’ days when horse shows were about how well suited a horse was for a specific purpose? Now people go to incredible lengths to screw up that naturally smooth gait.
But how does one
screw up a horses natural gait train a “Big Lick” gait? We’re glad you asked – but you may not be after reading what we found out.
There are three main (for lack of a better word) “techniques”:
1. “Pads” (aka “stacks” or “packages”): Are added onto the horseshoe and held on by a metal band that runs across the hoof wall. These pads can be up to 4″ thick in the heel and 2″ in the toe. Imagine being forced to wear stilettos, but never, ever being able to take them off!
2. “Action Devices” AKA Chains: so-called trainers are permitted (on and off show grounds) to put chains weighing 2, 4 or 6 ounces on the horses front pasterns to encourage the “Big Lick” walk. This practice is intended to be used with lubricant to allow the chains to slide easily along the horses pasterns. I’m sure if you ask an inmate if his handcuffs would be more comfortable with lubricant he’d say yes, but would still vastly prefer not have them on at all!
3. Soring: Sounds pleasant, doesn’t it? Using this “technique”, caustic substances are rubbed onto horses pasterns, the bulbs of their heels or coronary bands resulting in burning and/or blistering of the exposed areas. This is often used in place of the lubricant to make the “action devices” that much more effective. This causes the horse to accentuate their gaits because THEY ARE IN SO MUCH PAIN!
Another abusive and fiery-death-deserving soring practice includes pressure shoeing. Wherein the hoof is trimmed down so much that the sole is in direct contact with the shoe or pad. Some horses are ridden for extended periods on hard surfaces so as to purposefully induce road founder (the horse is in pain and doesn’t want to put its hoof down, thus it elongates it’s stride). Some “trainers” will go so far as to purposefully introduce foreign objects under the pads (ex. nails or screws) with the knowledge of, and intention to, cause intense pressure.
We’re not saying every TWH trainer uses all of these techniques, but when more than 400 soring violations are recorded at one show, there’s clearly a problem!
By the way, if you’re curious as to what a real running walk should look like:
Posted on September 22, 2011, in Bad Horse Ads, Bad Riders, Conformation and tagged Big Lick, Horse, running walk, Snarky Rider, soring, Tennessee Walking Horse, TWH. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.