WRAL.com at the State Fair

Groups protest soring at NC State Fair

Posted October 18, 2014 10:35 p.m. EDT
Updated October 19, 2014 9:25 a.m. EDT

— One of the most popular events at the NC State Fair came under scrutiny Saturday after one group expressed concerns for the welfare of the animals in the Tennessee Walking Horse Show.

Michelle Disney is part of a group that believes a form of painful abuse called soring is happening among the Tennessee walking horses.

"We are trying to cancel a cruel horse show that is going on and we are asking people to send an email and make a phone call to the fair manager," she said.

Soring, a form of abuse that damages a horse's hoof and causes the animal to walk in a more exaggerated way, is a serious allegation, but one Disney believes to be true.

"They will put heavy stacks on the horse's foot and these sacks often hide sharp metal objects," she said.

The Horse Protection Act was passed in the 1970s to prevent soring and other forms of abuse.

Brian Long, spokesman for the state fair, said he is aware of the law and that procedures are in place for the animal's protection.

"The horses are inspected before the show and if evidence of soring is found, then those horses are not allowed to compete," he said.

Long said two horses were already disqualified this year and officials do not hesitate to disqualify horses if necessary.

"We are confident that we will catch any issues that may show up here at the show," Long said.

According to Long, USDA inspectors attend the show unannounced as an unbiased third party.