Q: Is a "Unilateral Sore" violation part of the Horse Protection Act?

A: Unilateral sore is an HPA violation. I have discussed this with OGC in the past because of those type of statements circulating in the industry and this is what was received:

"To establish a prima facie case of soreness, the Department need only establish that a person has used a substance or device on any limb (which could be just one) of a horse or has engaged in any practice as a result of which the horse can reasonably be expected to suffer physical pain or distress . . . when walking, trotting, or otherwise moving (15 U.S.C. § 1821(3)). This understanding is consistent with the Secretary's view in the case of Charles Sims, 52 Agric. Dec. 1243 (1993), in which the Secretary laid to rest any notion that the Department must show that a horse manifests abnormal sensitivity or inflammation in both of its forelimbs or both of its hindlimbs, to prevail in a case. The broad language of the HPA and the Secretary's position in Sims is consistent with Congress' intent to "prevent and eliminate" the burdens caused by the movement, showing, exhibition, or sale of sore horses in commerce."

Please feel free to forward my response to anyone that may question this, as well.


Dr. Rachel Cezar, USDA Horse Protection, 5/28/09

How much weight per hoof is carried by padded performance Tennessee Walking Horses?

We asked this question of 5 people in this industry, and received these answers. If you have input, please e-mail us.

A1: The low end might be around 4 lbs.  That would include the stack, the shoe, the weights and of course the nails.  I personally have seen padded horses carry as much as 15 pounds on each foot.   It depends upon the horse and what the trainer thinks the horse needs. 

A2: The package that I have is a bit over 2.6 lbs. It includes a double nail-on pad, a wedge and 3 flat pads as well as the shoe (which is a moderate one). This set belonged to an open show horse.

A3: We have some stacks that weigh 4+ pounds, and I know they can go much higher.

 A4: The padded shoe/package that I have weighs 6 lbs. It's dimensions are; Toe 2" including the shoe. Heel 4 5/16" including rubber bumper. Length on top (hoof side), from toe to to back edge of pad 7 5/8". Length on ground surface 8". Distance across at widest point (hoof side) 5 1/2". Width at widest point on ground surface 6 5/8". Shoe on bottom of package size; 1 1/8 X 3/8. There is a piece of tire tread put across the back of the package approx 2 1/4'; wide. These pieces of tire extend past the heel end of the shoe, which is about 1 1/2" shorter than the package. These rubber bumpers are there to absorb some of the shock from the heel first landing that Big Lick horses do!   

The packages are allowed to be constructed of rubber, plastic, rubber, or a combination thereof, by law they can't be hollowed out to contain foreign matter. But until digital radiology is used this can't be checked for. The shoe on the bottom can influence the weight of the package from 1 to 5 lbs depending on the size of the package and the dimensions and composition of the shoe. A tungsten shoe could add up to 14 lbs difference!  

The package that I have was taken off a normal sized 2 yr old!  

A5: The average package weighs about 5 pounds per foot.

A6: Exaggerated use of nails has been seen as a method to add weight: the number of nails in this image provided at the 2008 Sound Horse Conference by Dr. Tracy Turner were weighed after the Conference, and the nails alone added 1.75 pounds. There is no other purpose for this many nails.

Q: What are the restrictions by the law (Horse Protection Act) on the weight of a shoe on a Tennessee Walking Horse?

A: There are none.

Q: Can you explain the restrictions on the artificial pads or extensions per the Horse Protection Act?

A: The only place in the regulations that mention shoes is that the pad can only be 1/2 the length of the natural toe. This is a reason for the long toes on padded horses. AND since the heel-toe ratio says that the toe must measure at least 1" longer than the heel we get horses with no natural heel and very tall (heavy) packages.

For example, if the natural toe is 7 inches, the pad, or extension can only be 3 1/2 inches for a total of 9 inches of toe length. This means that the heel can be no more than 8 inches total!

Q:  Which states have the most soring violations?