The Humane Society of the United States is out with another damning undercover investigation, this one into the mistreatment of the famed Tennessee Walking Horses, show horses known for their unique four-beat "running walk."
The investigation found many of the horses to be subjected to a cruel practice known as soring -- the intentional infliction of pain to feet and legs to produce an exaggerated gait known as the "Big Lick."
The video shows Jackie McConnell, one of the sport's leading trainers, and his stable hands beating horses with wooden sticks and using electric cattle prods on them to make them lift their feet in the pronounced gait judges like to see. McConnell's staff also apply caustic chemicals to the ankles of the horses and them wrap them with plastic wrap so the chemicals eat into the skin.
"That creates intense pain and then the ankles are wrapped with large metal chains so the horses flinch, or raise their feet even higher," said the Humane Society's Keith Dane.
Soring has been illegal for more than 40 years under the federal Horse Protection Act. As a result of the HSUS investigation, McConnell and his associates have been charged with felony conspiracy to violate the HPA, as well as numerous violations of the Tennessee Cruelty to Animals Statute. McConnell is expected to plead guilty to one count.
(Heads up -- graphic animal abuse.)