Whether soring is less of a concern than it used to be pretty much depends on whom you are talking with. But many of the folks who maintain that soring and pressure shoeing are still major concerns in the Tennessee Walking Horse (TWH) industry and with several other breeds, readily admit that the practice has gotten much more sophisticated and tougher for inspectors to identify.
With limitations in the current physical examinations that are used to identify soring concerns, several new scientific technologies are being evaluated as to the role they might play in helping identify soring and pressure shoeing violations.
Rachel Cezar, a veterinarian and Horse Protection Coordinator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says the government agency is evaluating several new technologies to make it easier to identify soring concerns. This includes the use of themography, digital radiography, pressure gauge response to pain, new biofeedback developments and chemically evaluating swabs taken during inspections from the pastern area for foreign substances to identify soring concerns.
“As an example, foreign substances are prohibited from being applied above the hoof except for lubricants and oils that meet certain restrictions,” she says. “We’ve found even sunscreen can block the results from thermography when used to identify soring.”
Cezar’s goal is to find new ways to solve the soring and pressure shoeing concerns. “By all of us working together, my hope is that eventually the industry will self-police itself,” she says.
Stephen O’Grady says relying on a combination of…