I'd like to say a huge thanks to MissMellyMel for giving me a link to a very interesting article regarding the big lick industry.
Very interesting. And profoundly disturbing. I'm officially boycotting the words "discipline" and "sport" in instances in which they are used in the same sentence as "big lick" or "performance Tennessee Walking Horses". Instead, I will be replacing those words with "activity".
The lengths people will go to in order to achieve a despicably horrendous and unnatural gait. I'm sure most of us are aware of the cruelty involved with the big lick practice, but seeing it in writing really makes it sink in.
Big lick people have actually issued death threats to advocates of sound horses. Some have even had their barns burned down (with horses inside???). Just to give you an insight on what big lick people are generally like. Don't they sound like a jolly bunch? Just the kind of people every equestrian aspires to be like.
If they would issue death threats to people who stand up for sound, healthy horses, can you imagine what they must do to their own horses? What are you so afraid of, big lick people? What do you have to hide? Why so defensive? You guys must know you're doing something wrong, or else you wouldn't be going to so much trouble trying to sweep your dirty little secrets under the rug.
As we all know, soring is only a small tidbit of the rest of the picture. Stacks, chains, 10" shanks, tail sets, blinders, training shackles, stewarding, the list goes on. These cretins put an unbelievable amount of effort into making their horses miserable. Human beings (women in particular) are willing to torture themselves for the sake of beauty, but apparently that isn't enough for some people. They have to force their foolishness onto voiceless animals that have no choice in the matter and have to bare their agony in silence. If those horses could talk, what would they say about their owners? Nothing nice, I'm sure.
If there was nothing wrong with the TWH industry, this controversy wouldn't exist. I think big lick people are so set in their ways because a lot of them honestly (or at least outwardly) believe there's nothing wrong with what they're doing. Why? Because they come from long lines of big lick people. It's been hard wired into their brains that either 1) all the fancy artificial gadgets don't hurt the horse at all or 2) it's completely ethical to cause your horse discomfort in order to win. Children are being taught how to sore horses. Young riders are discouraged or even reprimanded for asking too many questions concerning big lick horses. Just goes to show what a sneaky and slimy industry it is.
It's no wonder 99% of the rest of the equestrian world has zero respect for this activity. Not only is it completely devoid of any taste, talent, or artistry, but abuse is so rampant that the government has to step in! That fact, if nothing else, should slap people in the face and make them open their eyes.
Another point I'm sure we can all agree on is that the consequences for soring or other abusive practices are way too lenient. Anyone found soring a horse should have all their horses taken away and be banned from owning ANY animal ever again. See it Through My Eyes is a really good video. It reignites your resentment for this activity every time you watch it. At about 5:10, that footage almost kills me. Can you imagine that horse's agony as he stumbles under the pain of first or second degree burns on his legs, coupled with the weight of a rider and chains around his ankles that only aggravate it more? If that pain was inflicted on a human being, they'd be on the ground, writhing and screaming. But the horses are too saintly to offer an iota of protest.
Wrapping up, if you guys get the chance, visit these links. They have a lot of info on the gaited industries and they're just plain awesome.
Friends of Sound Horses
Sound Horse Conference