FOSH is the only international organization dedicated to the promotion of the sound-gaited horse emotionally, mentally, and physically.

We educate our members on how to treat, care for, and train gaited horses across the U.S. and Canada.
Friends of Sound Horses

Got Gait – Go FOSH

What is Soring?

Fighting Against the Illegal and Inhumane Soring of Horses

At FOSH, our mission is to promote all “sound,” naturally gaited horses, with a specific emphasis on Tennessee Walking Horses. We focus on educating horse owners about humane treatment, care, and training of all gaited horses for their physical, emotional, and mental well-being. We only support barefoot or flat-shod horses and never favor any event that uses stacks and/or chains as action devices, nor any mechanical, chemical, or artificial means to modify the horses’ natural gaits.
Horse That Has Been Sored
This picture shows an example of a horse that has been sored.

Mainstream Media on Soring

See It Through My Eyes is one of the good movies about soring. This film has won its creators the coveted Gold Award from the Girl Scouts of America. Three senior Girl Scouts in Franklinville, New York, produced this DVD film. The Gold Award is the highest nationally recognized award a girl scout can earn.

Isn't Soring Illegal?

Yes, soring has been made illegal on the federal level since the Horse Protection Act (HPA) was first passed in 1970. Find more information about this topic on the USDA website. USDA is the agency tasked with enforcing this Act.

Is Soring Still Done Today?

Yes, more than 1,000 suspensions have been issued for violations of the HPA in the last 12 months. Sadly, this count only includes the people who have been caught at inspection stations at horse sales and shows.
The USDA operates on very minimal funding for the Act’s 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” or HIOs to inspect shows in their place. Unfortunately, the HIOs that hold the largest “performance” only show where soring is prevalent but don’t do a very effective job of self-inspection. Please note that “performance” in this industry means padded and plantation shod Tennessee Walking horses.
These HIOs write eight times to 22 times more tickets when the USDA is present auditing their inspections than when they are not around. If the USDA could afford to inspect the Tennessee Walking Horse shows 100%, the total number of Horse Protection Act violations could be as high as 10,000 or 20,000 every year!

FOSH puts effort into tracking all of the soring suspension data and issuing press releases to keep the public informed and updated about the issue. For more information on this, you can email

This is a map charting the state’s 4,000 incidences of soring violations since 2002.

FOSH puts effort into tracking all of the soring suspension data and issuing press releases to keep the public informed and updated about the issue. For more information on this, you can email

How Do People Sore Horses?

People use various cruel and devious methods to sore horses. They can include painting caustic chemicals on the horse’s pasterns, such as kerosene, diesel fuel, 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. Harmful drugs and chemicals are also being injected into the horse’s pastern area above the hoof using hypodermic syringes.
Mechanical means such as pressure shoeing is 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. Every time the horse steps or puts weight on that hoof, it causes them pain.
Pressure shoeing also involves cutting a horse’s hoof sole and wall down to the quick, where it starts to bleed, and then nailing a shoe over that surface. This makes a very tender hoof sore again when pressured by the animals’ weight.
A FOSH member has written a book called “From the Horse’s Mouth,” — available on the FOSH website. It is a novel detailing the methods and results of soring.
Example of Scarring
This photo shows an example of scarring from the USDA training program.

How is Soring Detected?

At horse shows, the USDA inspectors observe horses’ movements and do palpation wherein they put pressure on the horse’s pastern to check if the animal flinches in pain. The inspectors also carry out technical methods of gas chromography, or the “sniffer,” to detect foreign substances. Thermography is done as well to check for heat from pain.
HIO DQPs, who are trained inspectors, usually use palpation and observation.
Pressure shoeing is challenging to detect without using hoof testers and pulling the shoe.
Scar rule violations are detected by observing and feeling the pastern skin.
FOSH strongly opposes soring and the style of performance shoeing called “padded” or “big lick.” Chains, which are also called “action devices,” are put on the horse’s pasterns to cause more percussion against it, which might already be sensitive due to soring. In this style of classes, the highest incidences of soring are found. However, some “flat shod” exhibitors and trainers are also using soring to improve their horse’s gait for the show ring.
Example of a Scarred Horse
Performance Shoes
Padded Hoof Radiography
Anita Howe with Her Naturally Gaited Tennessee Walker
Barefoot Tennessee Walker

What Does "Performance" Versus "Natural" Gaiting Look Like?

It is easy to determine the difference between performance and natural gaiting by observing the movement of horses. Please watch the videos uploaded on these websites to see how performance gaits differ from natural gaits.

What Can I Do to Help End Soring?


FOSH is the leading organization in America that works to end horse soring. Your membership ($30/year) and any additional donation you could afford will be a big help for our cause. Visit our website to join FOSH.

Become an Informed Consumer

If you are buying a horse or selecting a trainer, ask questions about their training methods, whether they show performance horses, their violation suspension history (this is unfortunately not public information currently), and whether you are allowed to stop by their training barns at any time even without an appointment.
You should also view the horses in their stalls and see if they are happy and healthy and get turned out daily? Signs of soring include horses groaning, always laying down in their stalls, needing encouragement or whipping to lead out of their stalls, suspicious chemicals or equipment in the training areas, plastic wrap under leg wraps, etc. We also advise you to pop in unexpectedly and watch training sessions. You could also ask known sound-horse supporters about the reputation and history of the horse seller or trainer.

Get Active With The Cause

FOSH is always searching for people who could volunteer their time to work on projects to end soring, get active on our Executive Advisory Committee, or even our Board of Directors.

Write to TWHBEA

Send the Executive Director and President of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breed Association a personal letter, telling them your opinion of soring. They have to be an active leader in the fight to end soring. TWHBEA should begin their action by having their own by-laws reform so that individuals with Horse Protection Act violations are not serving on their board of directors. Their organization has the most significant annual budget involved in this issue. Send your letter to the TWHBEA website or mail it to TWHBEA, PO Box 286, Lewisburg, TN 37091.

Write to Your Federal Congressmen and Senator

As various issues, which need political comment, come into the spotlight, FOSH asks people to contact the USDA and their politicians with their statements of support. If you are a member of our organization, we’ll inform you when your action is needed.

Horse Protection Act Listening Sessions Presentation

Please visit the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website to see their presentation about the HPA. The file is about 28MB, so it 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. We provided a few of the slides from the USDA presentation below; you can click each picture to enlarge them. You can also visit our Soring page to learn more.

  • FOSH and Anti-Soring Public Relations Listing 2008
  • United States Department of Agriculture and Horse Protection Act Information
  • Soring Fact Sheet
  • Sore Winners
  • More Than Sore
Some Parts of a Hoof
Comparison of Scarred and Non-Scarred Hooves
Scarred Leg
Posterior Pattern on Skin
Scars on a Horse