Skip to content

The Tennessee Walking Horse Questions and Answers



Editor’s Note: The Walking Horse Trainers Association has prepared some questions and answers to better equip industry participants when fielding questions about the Tennessee walking horse.



 

The Tennessee Walking Horse

Questions and Answers

 

The following has been prepared in response to questions that occasionally arise due to a misunderstanding of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry today.

 

Q – The Tennessee Walking Horse has a very unique, high-stepping gait.  Some have said that in order to win shows, the horse is intentionally made lame, or “sore” to encourage him to step higher. Is this true?

 

A – The Tennessee Walking Horse does have a unique high-stepping gait, and is a smooth, comfortable riding horse.  This is a natural gait for the horse, and is enhanced by professional training, just as professional athletes train to enhance their abilities. Unfortunately, many years ago, various techniques that caused pain to the horse were used.  However, over the years, soring horses has become an unacceptable practice in the industry. New training techniques have been developed, and acceptable training techniques of today do not allow practices that cause pain.

 

Q – There have been some statements made that it is common practice in the industry to use caustic chemicals that burn the horses, or mechanical devices such as screws in their hooves, or a painful method of trimming the hoof called “pressure shoeing” to make the horse lift its feet higher.  Is this true? Is this acceptable in the industry?

 

A – This is not true.  These types of practices are completely unacceptable in the industry today. Those found to have used these practices are prevented from showing horses, and are subject to severe penalties imposed by the industry and by the federal government. To confirm its opposition to these practices, in 2007 the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association adopted a new Code of Ethics. This Code of Ethics states that licensed trainers must “Treat all horses in their care humanely, and with dignity and respect. Trainers shall use proper care in training, handling, and showing them, and shall not utilize techniques known to inflict pain for the purposes of performance enhancement. Trainers found to have used pressure shoeing shall lose their training license and be banned from the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association for life.”

 

Q – Show horses often have high pads or “stacks” on their hooves. Are these stacks painful to the horse? Are horses wearing these stacks forced to remain in barns their whole lives, or are they allowed to go out into pastures?

 

A – Pads or “stacks” are not painful for the horse.  They are not heavy, and parameters for the size and angle of the pads are defined by USDA regulation. Show horses that have pads on during the show season are extremely well cared for.  As are show horses of other breeds, they are maintained in stalls during the show season, but are taken out daily, often several times daily, to be exercised, groomed, and otherwise cared for. The barns show horses are kept in are well kept and well ventilated, with skylights in many of them. Horses with pads are also sometimes turned out into paddocks.  Mares that have had successful show careers are often used for breeding, and may spend the rest of their lives outdoors. These well-cared for show horses often live long healthy lives and some show well into their teens or twenties.

 

Q – What are the chains around some horses’ pasterns? Are they painful to the horse?

 

A – Those chains are known as “action devices” and encourage horses to lift their feet higher. The chains are light, weighing no more than 6 ounces. Research conducted at Auburn University’s School of Veterinary Medicine determined that 6 ounce chains used as action devices on Tennessee Walking Horses do not cause any detectable pain or tissue damage to the horses. These 6 ounce chains are legal to use.

 

Q – It has been stated the USDA made a commitment in 2006 to enforce the “Horse Protection Act.” What is the “Horse Protection Act”, and why did the USDA decide to start enforcing it in 2006?

 

A – The Horse Protection Act was enacted in 1970, and USDA, APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) has been enforcing it for many years, in partnership with the industry. Since the enactment of the HPA, the industry has evolved significantly, and the welfare of the horse has become of paramount importance. USDA and the industry continue to work together to ensure compliance with the Horse Protection Act. The recently adopted Walking Horse Trainers’ Association Code of Ethics reaffirms this commitment.

 

Q – It has been stated that industry has spent $1 million to try to change and weaken the law, and that industry has hired a Washington insider, previously an official with USDA to try to weaken the existing regulations. Is that true?

 

A – There had been some previous attempts by some in industry to modify the law. A new Washington firm was hired in 2007 to interact with USDA and the industry to assure consistent interpretation and enforcement of the HPA. This firm is not in any way attempting to change the law. On the contrary, the firm is working with USDA and industry to assure compliance with the HPA, and to help the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association (WHTA) move the industry forward.  The focus is on protecting the horse and preserving the industry for future generations. The WHTA would also like to partner with others to develop new training methods focused on the welfare of the horse, and on improved detection of sore horses. The Washington firm will be working to facilitate those efforts and to develop strategic planning to continue to move the industry forward.

More Stories

  • SHOW Judges’ Committee set for 2020

    The SHOW HIO recently approved the members of the 2020 Judges’ Committee. Following the 2019 show season two members of the committee rolled off per the committee’s guidelines. Jennifer Bingham, who was chair of the committee for the last several years and Doyle Meadows were the two members whose term expired in 2019.   Read More
  • Surrounded by horsepower

    An MTSU graduate is expanding her family’s multi-faceted business ventures which range from showing horses to owning NASCAR championship racing teams to developing real estate. Allison Thorson owns and manages ThorSport Farm on Barfield Crescent Road in Christiana. The 500-plus-acre farm has an indoor training facility and 80 stalls, plus countryside riding trails, she said... Read More
  • Obituary – Nancy Elliott

    Nancy Caroline Ballentine Elliott, age 65, passed away unexpectedly and peacefully on Friday, November 29, 2019 surrounded by her family. A social hour with family and friends will be held on Friday, December 6, 2019 at 1:00 followed by the celebration of her life at 2:00 at her beloved Ballentine Farms Venue, 6921 Sunset Lake Road, Fuquay Varina, NC. Read More
  • Thorsport to host Holiday Open House

    ThorSport Farm is hosting their annual holiday party and open house this coming Saturday December 7th from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Barn and facility tours, food and beverage, horse competitions, and lots of fun to be had!  Read More
  • 2019 Readers' Choice Ballot

    You don't have to be a member of anything to vote for your favorite horses, exhibitors, trainers and shows in The 38th Annual Walking Horse Report Readers' Choice conducted by The Walking Horse Report... Read More
  • SHOW to host judges' clinic

    SHOW is hosting a Judges’ Clinic for returning SHOW licensed judges and new applicants. The clinic is scheduled for Saturday, February 15, 2020 in the Blue Ribbon Circle beginning at 9:00 am... Read More
  • NCWHA announces 2020 Officers and Board of Directors

    The following individuals have been elected for the North Carolina Walking Horse Association Board of Directors... Read More
  • NAS to hold two webinars on December 2nd

    The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will host two webinars open to the public at 11:00AM and 6:00PM ET on Monday December 2nd. The NAS committee will hear from two invited speakers as part of their task to look at the best and most objective ways to conduct inspections at horse shows.   Read More
  • Obituary – Kaitlyn Dixon

    Kaitlyn Dixon, age 20 of Monroe, Georgia passed away on Wednesday, November 20, 2019. Funeral Services were held on Sunday, November 24, 2019 at Center Hill Baptist Church. Rev. Steve Moon and Rev. Marion Prather officiated... Read More
  • Equine Obituary – Drop The Hammer

    On Sunday, November 17, multi World Grand Champion and World Champion Drop The Hammer passed away in his stall. In 2012, Drop The Hammer was lovingly cared for by the Dr. Jim Baum family. The Baums gave him a great home after his stunning show ring career... Read More