Yesterday, The Humane Society released undercover footage it took from a stable where Tennessee Walking Horses were horrifically and systematically abused. The trainers — if the word can be applied to these people — beat, shocked, and burned their horses with chemicals in order to achieve a high-stepping gait called “the big lick.” If you were hoping to have a nice day, I don’t recommend reading any further.
The Humane Society’s investigation revealed treatment that is not only unethical, but also illegal. The head trainer, Jackie McConnell, is already on probation and yet was clearly seen continuing his work of beating and mutilating show horses. Not only that, the investigation revealed trainers using caustic chemicals applied to the horses’ feet — a practice known as “soring,” which was banned 40 years ago by the Horse Protection Act.
The footage here was said to have been used in new legal proceedings against McConnell, and featured as part of a Nightline special report. ABC reports today that, as a result of the investigation, Pepsi has pulled their sponsorship of an upcoming Walking Horse competition. Thankfully, many of the horses abused at the hands of McConnell and his stablehands have already been rescued by federal enforcement agents.
Though criminal charges and public shaming are certainly satisfying, it does little to mend the physical and psychological abuse these animals have already suffered.
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