An illustration of a horse with one front leg raised.

The Big Lick

Episode #76

2017-10-06 23:38:03


The Tennessee Walking Horse has a natural gait that’s famously smooth. And, if trained in a certain way, it can perform a walk that’s even more spectacular, called the Big Lick. But, there’s a secret behind how, exactly, these horses are trained to do the crowd-pleasing step they’re celebrated for; it’s called “soring” and it’s been outlawed since the 1970’s. Still, some horse trainers still use the practice today in order to compete in the Big Lick.

When Marty Irby, president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, spoke out against soring, he lost everything: business partners, his father, even his wife.

Mary Helen Montgomery brings us the story.