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Tennessee walking horse owner hopes to expose horrific soring practices in feature film

The owner of a Tennessee walking horse rescued from a life of soring aims to make a feature-length film raising awareness of the horrific practices involved in the “big lick” gait.

US actor Cameron Ring has already made a short documentary based on the life story of Awesome Gal, the mare he has owned for some 10 years, and he hopes to secure enough funding for the longer version.

“My mission is to end the horrific practice of soring that Awesome endured,” Cameron said.

“Though I cannot change Awesome’s past, I can change the future for thousands of other horses suffering the same abuse by telling her amazing story.

“This touching account will expose the dark side of the Tennessee walking horse industry and inspire anyone struggling through hardships.”

Soring methods used to help create the exaggerated “big lick” gait include applying diesel fuel and kerosene to burn the skin, grinding down hooves to expose sensitive tissues, and applying “sharp or abrasive objects to tender areas to maximise pain”.

Under the current system of industry self-policing, those who abuse horses often go unpunished, and although there was hope for a better future when the Prevent All Soring Techniques (PAST) Act was approved by the House of Representatives last July, Cameron told H&H this has got no further.

“There seems to be no desire to move forward on this,” he said. “Awesome’s got an incredible story and I think if we can tell it, we could create national outcry, and force the Senate into action.”

Awesome was “power-shod”, her hooves were cut down to the quick, but managed to escape the yard on which she was kept, and ended up at a rescue yard where she bonded with a girl who had come out of an abusive relationship.

Cameron took her on when the rescue yard had to close and the rest is history.

“Awesome’s is such a sweet story and hers has a happy ending,” Cameron said.

“But anyone who knows horses would look at [the horses in the ring] and see they’re in pain, and they have such a beautiful gait naturally.

“I’ve seen undercover footage of what goes on in the barns and it’s horrific.”

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Cameron’s film is at the voting stage at the From a Distance Film Festival but he said as soon as he can secure funding, he can start work on the longer project.

“There’s no real awareness of soring but if this can help get it out there, people can’t ignore it,” he said.

“We need the legislation passed and enforced, so these horses can be treated better, and to improve the relationship between horses and humans.”

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