I had the pleasure of interviewing the President of Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH), Teresa Bippen this week for a story that will appear in the June issue of Trail Blazer and knew I had to feature them here today. FOSH was founded by Cherie Beatty with a vision to end "soring" in the Tennessee Walking Horse world. Soring is a horrible practice that employs such despicable techniques as smearing chemicals on horses' legs so heavy flopping chains wrapped on their legs will hurt when they rub the tender, chemically sored skin above the hoof causing them to fling their leg high to relieve the pain with each exaggerated step. Other techniques include shoeing with nails up into the foot causing terrible pain and forcing the horse to try to carry itself more on the back legs. There are other, and just as gruesome techniques, but that's the general idea of the "soring" style, or insanity, of training.
Cheri had a vision of not only fighting to end soring, but to open new venues for Tennessee Walking Horse owners to showcase their horses. Creating FOSH would make possible both those dreams. FOSH has come a long way in shining the light on the horrible soring practice by keeping pressure on legislatures to pass bills to protect the horses and informing the public. Much has been accomplished on that front, but sadly much is still needed. (At the most revered, Tennessee Walking Horse show, the "National Celebration" in Shelbyville, TN, this past August, the USDA swabbed 190 horses and 145 tested positive (76%) for foreign substances including caustic agents and numbing substances.) One way of informing the public has been FOSH's creation of a website that provides 57 year's worth of history on soring including thousands of violations and violaters http://www.stopsoring.com/
The second and third approaches to helping horses is that FOSH employs education, and creating fun. In the show venue their rule book and judges have been used nationwide for owners of all gaited horses to show sound horses. FOSH defines a sound horse as "one that has not been sored." FOSH will only support flat shod or barefoot horses and will never endorse any event that allows any artificial means to modify the natural gait of the horse.
|First Gaited Dressage Competition-1986 Red Deer, Alberta Canada-TWH Shaker's Royal and Diane Sept|
FOSH is the fastest growing gaited horse organization in the country and has become an umbrella group for all gaited breeds. Showcasing the agility, naturally beautiful gaits, fun and greatness of all the gaited breeds is their mission. They've created the "Gaited Sport Horse Program" with opportunities for owners of all gaited breeds to compete, play and learn. Check out the "The Gaited Sport Horse Program," here http://www.foshgaitedsporthorse.com/ ... You'll find the "Gaited Distance Program," and their "Equine Agility Program." And the "Gaited Dressage" program which FOSH has been on the forefront of promoting. In fact they've developed and written a non-specific gaited breed Dressage Test that makes it possible for riders and owners of any gaited breed to join in the fun, excitement and rewards of Dressage.
Visit the FOSH website http://www.fosh.info/index.html to learn how you can help them help.
Be sure to watch for my full article in the June issue of Trail Blazer http://www.trailblazermagazine.us/ to learn even more about FOSH whose motto is, "The Horse Comes First."
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry