Footage courtesy of The Humane Society of the United States
Warning: this video contains descriptive details that may upset you. Is he telling the truth? What was edited out? What does his body language suggest? The man being interviewed is former trainer Barney Davis. He uses a lot of lingo; "walk" refers to the unique Walking horse show gait; "band" refers to the hose-clamp style band around the hoof. "DQP" is a "designated qualified person", or non-USDA inspector performing inspections under USDA regulations.
The Humane Society of the United States conducted an on-camera interview with Barney Davis, a former Tennessee horse trainer who pleaded guilty to various violations of the Horse Protection Act last November.
Davis served most of his one-year sentence in prison and was also ordered by the court to cooperate in the production of an educational video describing pervasiveness of the abusive practice of horse “soring.”
The practice causes intentional pain to the feet or legs of horses through the application of caustic chemicals to burn their skin, or by inserting foreign objects to the sensitive areas of their hooves. In reaction to the pain, horses lift their front legs high off the ground, producing the exaggerated “Big Lick” gait rewarded in the show ring.
At his sentencing hearing in February, Davis admitted to routinely soring horses during their training, and explained that this illegal activity is so rampant as to be commonplace throughout the Tennessee walking horse industry.
In The HSUS’ exclusive interview, Davis described common horse soring methods and their effects. He flatly stated that trainers must make their horses suffer to be competitive at “Big Lick” events, including the biggest of them all, the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration currently underway in Shelbyville, Tennessee.
And he demonstrated how inspectors can better detect sored horses.
“The only way to win at the Celebration is to sore,” Davis said. “I’ve shown at the Celebration three, maybe four, times. I trained them myself and they were sore. I’m not going to lie.”
“Barney Davis’ testimonial underscores that soring is now a regrettable, and illegal, norm throughout the Tennessee walking horse industry. And industry self-policing is failing the horses miserably,” said Keith Dane, director of equine protection for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States urges the leaders in this industry to abandon their denial and finally institute real, meaningful reforms that will rid the Celebration and other performance horse shows in the industry of this despicable horse abuse.”
Earlier this year, The HSUS paid a $10,000 reward for information that led to the arrest and conviction of Davis, who has competed for the title of World Grand Champion, the industry’s highest prize.
As awareness spreads about the abusive treatment of Tennessee walking horses in the top levels of show competition, The HSUS is continuing its commitment to help bring violators to justice through the offering of this reward to crack down on abuse of these animals.
Anyone with information on this cruel practice should call 855-NO-SORING or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The HSUS will protect the identity of all callers.
--end of text provide by The HSUS
The Walking Horse National Celebration is currently going on in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Please don't think that this is a single-breed issue or that it does not involve you or affect your work with horses. How the humane organizations, law enforcement and the government perceive and act on allegations of abuse are important to all of us. Your breed or discipline or livelihood could be affected somewhere down the line even if you have never seen a Walking horse and wouldn't dream of abusing any animal.
Chances are, what happens in Shelbyville this week won't stay in Shelbyville.
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