published Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Medicines to mask pain cloud walking horse soring picture

In this file photograph from 2012, Sherri Pollack, on the horse I'm P. Diddy; Clay Mills, on the horse Holyfield; and Justin Howell, on the horse Jose's Bummin' Around, from left, show during the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions, 15.2 and Under class at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn.
In this file photograph from 2012, Sherri Pollack, on the horse I'm P. Diddy; Clay Mills, on the horse Holyfield; and Justin Howell, on the horse Jose's Bummin' Around, from left, show during the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions, 15.2 and Under class at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn.

CELEBRATION TESTING

Many horses examined at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration have tested positive for substances that could mask soring:

• 2013: 67 percent

• 2012: 76 percent

• 2013: 98 percent

• 2010: 86 percent

WASHINGTON — Putting mustard oil, kerosene, diesel fuel and other blistering agents on Tennessee walking horses has long been part of the cruelty of soring — the infliction of pain on the animals' front legs and hooves so that touching the ground causes them to recoil in agony and achieve a higher-stepping gait.

But Department of Agriculture documents show the horses frequently face a second set of chemicals as well -- those used to mask scars and numb a horse's pain to fool inspectors.

And walking horses at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn. -- which starts Wednesday -- test positive for masking and numbing agents more often than not, leaving critics to doubt the industry's claim that at least 97 of every 100 horses are free of soring and their owners and trainers are in compliance with the Horse Protection Act of 1970.

View more at our news partner's website, tennessean.com.

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