BOOKS: From The Horse’s Mouth
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2003:
From the Horse’s Mouth
by Eugene Davis
Rhoman Books (1708 21st Ave. S., #146, Nashville, TN 37212),
2002. 181 pp, paperback. $14.99.
In this novel, Tennessee Walking Horses talk and dream about
their lives. Unfortunately, their lives are filled with horrible
abuse by men who care only about the financial rewards of winning at
competition. The book is rich with history and facts about the world
of Tennessee Walking Horses.
This could have been a bleak, depressing and hopeless topic
that would make many turn their heads in disgust and denial. Davis
does not shy away from the bleak truth about the horrors of soring,
brutal training methods, and the corruption often infecting the
heart of the competitive show world. He traces how soring, or the
process of applying caustic chemicals such as kerosene, diesel fuel,
and oil of mustard onto the horses’ legs, to cause them to step
unnaturally high, became an integral part of exhibiting Tennessee
Walking Horses. Eventually trainers who did not sore their horses
could not successfully compete, and unnatural gaits, impossible to
achieve without abusive techniques, became the standard.
There are now inspectors at horse shows who supposedly
enforce state and federal antisoring laws, but Davis shows how
devious trainers hide their tactics and defend them through lobbying
and violence. Davis notes that he has either seen all of the
practices he depicts or has been told about them by “undeniably
The story is kept psychologically manageable by the work of a
hero who tries to fight the abusive practices.
–Sue Ellen Brown, PsyD
[Further information about the abuse of Tennessee Walking
Horses is available from the Sound Horse Organization,
<www.walkinghorse.org> and Friends of Sound Horses