Missing Documents on Horse Soring/Scarring

Photo by Marty Barr

In order to get Tennessee walking horses to make those exaggerated high-steps, some trainers “sore” the horses. This involves injecting or applying caustic chemicals, such as mustard oil or gasoline, to the horses’ lower front legs, causing non-stop agony. They may also uses devices such as heavy chains and nails on/in the hooves. Soring is against federal law (the Horse Protection Act of 1970), and APHIS is in charge of inspecting walking horses for signs of soring, which induces scarring. (Thus the “Scar Rule,” which says that horses that have almost all types of scars on both front legs have been “sored.”)

APHIS has removed at least three documents that go into detail about examining horses and determining whether they’ve been sored. Two of these documents are filled with large, color photos showing close-ups of all manner of scars created by soring, and the other is filled with thermographic imagery of sored horses. I am reposting all three documents here. No matter why the documents have been taken offline, even if it was a benign move, they’re important references that need to be kept available.

Scar Rule: Definitions and Violations” (2007) [PDF]

Understanding the Scar Rule” (2001) [PDF]

Utilizing Thermography to Assess Compliance With the Horse Protection Act” (2009) [PDF]

There are still documents about soring and the Scar Rule on APHIS’s website, but they have far fewer photos than the deleted “Scar Rule: Definitions and Violations,” and the photos are smaller. And there’s no longer any document that collects thermographic (and radiographic) images of sored horses.

More info on the Horse Protection Act is here.

Content warning: Photos of scarred, sored horses’ legs









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