Horse trainer speaks against 'soring'

7:00 PM, Apr 26, 2013   |    comments
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The investigation continues into the horse soring case in Blount County.

Thursday, authorities arrested Larry Wheelon and charged him with one count of felony animal abuse. Wheelon is well-known in the arena of competitive horse shows and has served in leadership posts overseeing the treatment of those animals. A mix of law enforcement and animal welfare experts helped seize 19 horses from Wheelon's Maryville barn.

Horse soring is when someone uses chemicals around the horses' hooves and / or drive bolts and other objects into their hooves and legs. It's a practice that's been happening with Tennessee Walking Horses for a long time to get them to step higher.

Tyler Irvine, of Irvine Training in Knoxville, said he does not practice soring.

"There's a right and a wrong way to achieve that kind of result with a high stepping, high action horse," Irvine said. "I'm not really familiar with nor do I use any type of anything that could be considered soring or anything like that."

Irvine is currently training a Tennessee Walking Horse named Skip to become a high-stepping show horse. instead of using the horse soring method, Irvine said he teaches Skip and other horses the fundamental rules of responding to physical and verbal cues.

Skip's been in training for less than a month. Irvine said it usually takes several months of proper training before a horse is show ready.

"A guy who I learned a lot from said the smooth, round rocks that you find that are very pretty take years of wind and water. And if you try to do that all at once, you'll break them," Irvine said.

Irvine added soring causes a lot of mental problems for horses and instills fear in the animals.

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