Soring is a process of intentionally causing pain to a horse's front legs and hoofs to enhance a gaited horse's gait for the show ring.  Soring is illegal and inhumane.

An example of a horse that has been sored. 

Mainstream Media on Soring:

Good Movies on the Subject...

CNN Special Assignment: (do you know the date of this older one?):

See It Through My Eyes won its creators the coveted Gold Award from the Girl Scouts of America. The DVD was produced by three senior Girl Scouts in Franklinville, New York. The Gold Award is the highest nationally recognized award a Girl Scout can earn.

Isn't Soring Illegal?

Yes, soring has been federally illegal since the Horse Protection Act (HPA) was first passed in 1970.   More information is available on the USDA website, which is the agency tasked with enforcing this Act.

Is Soring Still Done Today?

Yes, there have been over 1,000 suspensions issued for violations to the Horse Protection Act in the last 12 months.  Sadly, these are only the people who have been caught at inspection stations at shows and sales.  

The USDA operates on very minimal funding for this enforcement, and can only afford to attend under 10% of the shows where Tennessee Walkers and other gaited breeds are exhibited.  They have tasked 11 other "Horse Industry Organizations" (HIOs) to inspect shows in their absence.  Unfortunately, the HIOs that hold the largest "performance" shows (performance in this industry means padded and plantation shod Tennessee Walking horses) where soring is prevalent don't do a very effective job of self-inspection:  they write 8x to 22x more tickets when the USDA is present auditing their inspections than when they are not  present. 

If the USDA could afford to inspect 100% of the Tennessee Walking Horse shows, the total Horse Protection Act violations could be as high as 10,000 or 20,000 per year!

Map charting 4,000 incidences of soring violations by state since 2002

FOSH tracks all of the soring suspension data, and issues press releases to keep the public eye on the issue.  For more information on this, e-mail .

How Do People Sore Horses?

A variety of cruel and devious methods are used to sore horses.  They can include painting caustic chemicals on the horse's pasterns, such as diesel fuel, kerosene, mustard oil, etc., and then wrapping the legs in plastic wrap with leg wraps over the top so the chemicals can "cook" into the flesh.  Injections of harmful chemicals and drugs are also made into the horse's pastern area above the hoof using hypodermic syringes.

Mechanical means such as pressure shoeing involve putting a foreign object, such as a screw or bolt, or half of a golf ball, against both of the horse's front hoof soles, and then shoeing with a pad and horse show over the object.  Each time the horse steps or puts weight on that hoof, it causes pain.  Pressure shoeing also involves cutting a horse's hoof wall and sole down to the quick, where it starts to bleed, and then nailing a shoe over that surface.  This makes a very tender hoof that is sore again each time pressure from the animals' weight.

The book " From the Horse's Mouth ," written by a FOSH member, is a novel detailing the methods and results of soring.  (available on the FOSH web site.)

How is Soring Detected?

At horse shows, the USDA inspectors use a combination of palpation (pressure on the horse's pastern to see if the animal flinches in pain) with observation of the movement of the horse, and more technical methods of gas chromography (or the "sniffer") to detect foreign substances, and thermography (to check for heat from pain.)

HIO DQPs (trained inspectors) usually use observation and palpation.

Pressure shoeing is difficult to detect without pulling the shoe and using hoof testers.

Scar rule violations are detected by observation, and feeling the pastern skin:

Example of scarring from the USDA training program.

FOSH is opposed to soring.  FOSH is also opposed to the style of performance shoeing called "Big Lick" or "Padded."  Chains, called "action devices" are put on the horse's pasterns to cause more percussion against the pastern, which might be sensitive from soring.  This is the style of classes where the highest incidences of soring are found.  However, now some "Flat Shod" exhibitors and trainers are also using soring to enhance their horse's gait for the show ring.

Performance shoe with pads, also called Big Lick or Padded.

Why are 49 nails being used in this Performance Horse package?

A "Flat Shod" hoof, with an exaggerated toe length to enhance the gait.

A barefoot, naturally gaited Tennessee Walker, "Papa," owned and ridden by FOSH member Anita Howe.


A barefoot Tennessee Walker hoof, with normal or "virgin" pasterns.

What Does "Performance" vs. "Naturally Gaiting" look like?

Look at the movement in these videos available at the web sites:

            Performance Gaits:

            Natural Gaits:

What Can I Do to Help End Soring?

1. Join FOSH :  FOSH is the leading organization in the USA working to end soring.  Your membership ($30/year) and any additional donation you could afford will help our cause.  Join FOSH at this link .

2. Be an informed consumer.  If you are selecting a trainer or buying a horse, ask questions about their training methods, their violation suspension history (this is unfortunately not public information at this time), whether they show performance horses, and whether you are welcome to stop by their training barns at any time without an appointment.  View the horses in their stalls:  are they happy and healthy?  Do they get turned out daily?  Signs of soring include horses spending much time laying down in their stalls, groaning, needing encouragement or whipping to lead out of their stalls, plastic wrap under leg wraps, suspicious chemicals or equipment in the training areas, etc.  Pop in unexpectedly and watch training sessions.  Ask known sound-horse supporters about the person's reputation and history.

3. Get active with the cause :  FOSH is always looking for people willing to work on projects to end soring, get active on our Executive Advisory Committee or even our Board of Directors.

4. Write to TWHBEA :  Send a personal letter to the Executive Director and President of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed association, telling them your opinion of soring.  They need to be an active leader in the battle to end soring, starting with their own by-laws reform so that individuals with Horse Protection Act violations are not serving on their board of directors.  They are the organization with the largest annual budget involved in this issue. or TWHBEA, PO Box 286, Lewisburg, TN 37091

5. Write to your federal Congressmen and Senator :  As various issues come to focus requiring political comment, FOSH asks individuals to contact their politicians and the USDA with their statements of support.  If you are a FOSH member, we can keep you informed when your action is needed.

Horse Protection Act Listening Sessions Presentation

This is a large (approximately 28MB) Presentation .  The file should be saved to your local computer before opening it.

This is a PowerPoint presentation. If you don't have a copy of PowerPoint, you'll need to download the PowerPoint viewer from Microsoft.

NOTE: This information is from the USDA website.

Below are a few of the slides from the presentation, click to enlarge.

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FOSH and Anti-Soring Public Relations Listing 2008

United States Department of Agriculture 
and Horse Protection Act Information

Scar Rule Proposal

USDA/HIO Teleconference Summary - January 11, 2005

USDA/HIO Meeting Summary - December 14, 2004

Soring Fact Sheet

Sore Winners

A Face in the Crowd (address correction here)

American Horse Defense Fund

The Tennessee Walking Horse, Star and Martyr

More Than Sore

HPC 2007 OP-Letter of Recommendations

HIO Teleconference Summary - August 8, 2006

HIO Teleconference Summary - July 11, 2006

HIO Teleconference Summary - June 13th & 14th, 2006

HIO Teleconference Summary - May 9th, 2006

HIO Teleconference Summary April 11th, 2006

HIO Teleconference Summary - March 14, 2006

HIO Teleconference Summary - February 14, 2006

HIO Teleconference Summary - January 10, 2006

HIO Meeting Summary - December 13, 2005

HIO Teleconference Summary - November 8, 2005

HIO Teleconference Summary - October 14, 2005

HIO Meeting Summary - September 13, 2005

HIO Teleconference Summary - August 9, 2005

HIO Teleconference Summary - July 12, 2005

HIO Meeting Summary - June 14, 2005

HIO Teleconference Summary - May 10, 2005

HIO Teleconference Summary - April 12, 2005

HIO Meeting Summary - March 8, 2005

HIO Teleconference Summary - February 8, 2005

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