Belfast Horse Show
The Tennessee Walking Horse is a beautiful breed of gaited horse known for its unique walk and beautiful movement. It was first bred back in the late 18th century from different types of Pacers, crossed with some gaited Spanish Mustangs. In 1935, the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ Association was formed, and the first celebration of these horses occurred in 1939 at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, a now annual event that has undergone much controversy in recent years. The Belfast Horse Show used to be an integral part of the Tennessee Walking Horse Club’s event schedule, but lately has moved away from showcasing Tennessee Walking Horses due to the controversy surrounding “soring.”
For those who don’t know, soring is a practice that involves injuring or purposely causing pain to the feet or legs of the horses, by use of chemicals that hurt when the horses plant their feet on the ground, or adding nails into pads to create extra weight in the shoes. All of this is to encourage a horse to pick its feet up higher and faster than it would naturally do. We here at the Belfast Horse Show regard this to be a despicable practice, and although most breeders and shows have said that this process has been all but eliminated (especially with the passage of the Horse Protection Act in 1970), there is proof that the practice continues as enforcement is difficult and rare. One of the reasons for this is because judges at many shows still reward breeders for horses that step higher and faster than others, thus encouraging the behavior to continue.
This website was created to not only provide information and awareness about the issue of “soring” still prevalent in Tennessee Walking Horse Shows, but to also support those shows that have chosen to not judge “The Big Lick” as one of the categories for the horses. The new Belfast Horse Show, that takes place in August at Beech Memorial Field in Belfast, Tennessee, tries to find a compromise between the history of these majestic animals and the cruelty that was previously, and still continues to this day, in creating an unnatural behavior in their gait. We believe the natural gait of these horses is beautiful without the added abuse, and have removed the category of “The Big Lick” from our show. We hope you enjoy our site, and learn more about these horses and what can be done to prevent such abuses in the system in the future.