Shadow is a Tennessee Walking Horse (Tennessee Walker or TWH for short). He has a heart as big as the world. Shadow is not only our resident Drama Queen, he is the self-appointed leader* in the big pasture, total egomaniac, people washer and treat vacuum. He is also our official farm mascot. He loves attention; particularly when people tell him how handsome he is (even though he already knows).
Believe it or not, Shadow has his very own blankie to help him through those dramatic episodes.
*Reality: If something scary is happening, like fireworks (or a ferocious horse-eating squirrel is on the loose), someone else is absolutely in charge because Shadow went into hiding. He is the first to flee in such situations, frequently running over any and all of his pasture pals in the process.
I had never heard of the practice of soring until Shadow had a massive meltdown seemingly out of the blue. The episode led me to do some research into possible causes and introduced me to the shady side of the show ring in the Walking Horse industry. If you're interested in such things, click the button below to read my article on Equine PTSD. I wrote it that it might help someone who unknowingly purchased a big lick horse like we did.
At lease ONE of them was supposed to be working.
This video clip by Discover the Horse talks about the Tennessee Walking Horse breed, their traits, and shows the horse's natural gaits as they should be.
Below is the Humane Society video which discusses the illegal and abusive practice of soring. Compare the natural gaits in this video clip to the gaits you see in the next video clip.
Soring is still being used at many barns today even though it has been illegal for more than forty years. There is a lot of money to be won in the show ring and, unfortunately, the horse is the one who ultimately pays the price.
Horses carry 60% of their body weight on their front end, (this includes the rider). In an attempt to alleviate the pain in their front legs/feet, the sored horse shifts the bulk of their body weight to the back legs, which are not built to carry it. While this brings the front up, which results in the desired "big lick" gait, it also forces an unnatural bend in the back legs. You can see in the Humane Society video below, some of these horses are literally staggering.