When I attended the Sound Horse Conference in November, a big lick trainer, Winky Groover, talked to us about how he wanted to help changed the show world of the padded big lick horse. After he talked I asked him if you really could have a big lick horse that wasn't sored using chemicals around his ankles or using pressure shoeing. He assured me that one could. He stated that he had wanted to bring one of his sound, not sored, horses to the conference so folks could see, feel and even ride the horse. He was denied.
This brings me to my point of the day. I am against animal/horse abuses in any form, especially in training show horses. I explain my feelings and experiences about sored Tennessee Walking Horses in my book: The Horse That Wouldn't Trot. There is one group of Tennessee Walking Horse people who are against the padded/big lick horse PERIOD.
Now a group of big lick trainers would like/are trying to develope/show/train a horse that isn't sore, but is still on big stacks or pads and still wears a 6 oz chain. Is it feasible to expect the big lick horse to go away? I say it probably is not. I would like to see more support for those trainers who want to show a big lick horse that is not sore. It is simply a fact that folks like pizazz whether in race cars, race horses or show horses.
The purists do not want horses locked up in a stall 24/7. Granted, that is not the best of horse worlds, however, in the walking horse department, if a show horse can be stalled and not be groaning and moaning in pain from soring and pressure shoeing, that is a HUGE improvement.
Perhaps a next step/option would be a smaller pad and then no action device such as chains. Slow improvements are better than none.
here is a big lick horse that is owned by a friend and I trust and believe her that the horse is not and never has been "fixed" by soring. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xdu1cQBlsGg note the small bit, the pleasant attitude of the horse.
here is a clip of another big lick horse in training taken from the internet. There are several things to note here: long shanked bit, blinders (I do not see a reason for this at all!) unhappy horse in many ways, but most importantly, the squatting exagerated step of the back end. A horse will do this when the front hurts as in SORED, so he shifts his weight to the back. In my opinion, there is nothing pretty about this picture:
Here is video of the 2010 Trainers show. This points out the problem. Note all horses are squatting and the front end is very exaggerated. These horses passed the preliminary inspections. Are any of the sore? (my guess is yes). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRR2AzTKUms&feature=related
Most of the horse loving public abhor this look (with the exception of the walking horse fans) Keith Dane of HSUS suggested that a video be made using a sound horse and that would be given as the "Standard" for judging. That way horses doing "too much" as in the video, would be out. Trainers would be encouraged to train sound as the exaggerated movements caused by soring would not be rewarded.
Here is a video of Saddlebreds showing. These are fancy show horses and the "cousin" of the walking horse. By looking at this, one can see why the trainers started copying the showy gait, but have gone too far.
Soring and other abusive training must stop. If the Tennessee Walking Horse world wishes to keep their big lick horses, another standard must be adoped...in my opinion.