Pepsi pulls sponsorship from Tennessee Walking Horse show due to animal cruelty
by Allyson Koerner
Categories: Animals, Causes.
Photo: HSUS

The popular soda company Pepsi has recently pulled its sponsorship from Tennessee’s Walking Horse National Celebration, a prestigious horse show, after startling and horrific videos surfaced of horse cruelty, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Last week, ABC News revealed exclusive footage of a horse, which was part of the show, being beaten over and over again by a trainer. The video was given to the news station by the Humane Society of the United States, after the organization conducted an undercover investigation.

“We have ended our sponsorship of the event,” Vincent Bozek, a Pepsi spokesman, revealed on Thursday. No further comment was given for the cancellation.

The exact reason why Pepsi pulled ads was not answered, but according to an expert on the Tennessee horse show, whose identity remains under wraps, it’s because of the video, which illustrates “soring.” This abusive horse practice is “the intentional infliction of pain to [horses] feet and legs to produce an exaggerated gait known as ‘Big Lick,’” the HSUS explains.

An animal activist filmed the footage in 2011, which shows horses being beaten with wooden sticks and poked with electric cattle prods. Chemicals were applied to the horses’ legs, while their ankles were wrapped with plastic to intensify pain.

The president of the horse show, Dr. Stephen Mullins, said “For any animal to be abused like that … I totally disagree with that.”

Keith Dane, the HSUS director of equine protection, fully supports Pepsi’s decision and said, “This procedure of soring has been going on far too long . . . the industry itself has been allowed to self-police and with very poor results.”

Dane also revealed the HSUS sent someone in to film, because the Tennessee Walking Horse’s self-policing strategies of “soring” were not working.

Doyle Meadows, the chief executive of the Tennessee horse show, said in a statement, “The Celebration has worked extremely hard over recent years to gain the trust of our corporate partners and we would do nothing to destroy that relationship. As the Celebration moves forward to promote a sound horse we hope that everyone will assist in our efforts to promote this magnificent breed.”

Below, is a video ABC News and the HSUS released showing the disturbing images of horse cruelty. Watch at your own risk, because the footage is very graphic.

To help stop this cruelty, click here and lend a helping hand.

About Allyson Koerner

Allyson Koerner first found her love of writing while attending Westminster College in Pennsylvania, and that passion evolved while she was earning her Master's in Print & Multimedia Journalism at Boston's Emerson College. She's an experienced writer dabbling in all things vegan, green, entertainment and TV-related. Feel free to keep tabs on her over at Twitter: @AllysonKoerner.

View all posts by Allyson Koerner →
  • Sue Emanovsky

    Kudos to Pepsi for taking the higher moral ground and pulling their sponsorship.

    It isn’t an isolated incident. In 2006 they cancelled the show because 6 out of 9 horses in the running for Champion were disqualified because of soring.

  • kat

    where are the judges in this? Surely they could see the soreness, the
    abuse going on! They should be fined as well, especially if they pinned
    the abuser as a winner. The whole association is to blame as are the
    spectators. And, who are the rest of the sponsors? They should be
    publicized as well. Pull their sponsors, educate people on the cruelty
    and soon they won’t have an audience or be after big $$ for the win.
    Also, I’m sure this was just one in a many abusers. Hopefully the fines
    and charges did not stop with this one abuser.

  • Debbie Shorten

    Thank-you Pepsi. As a life long horse owner I am beyond outraged and heartbroken by this cruelty. These practices have obviously existed in the Tennessee Walker industry for many many years. Even anyone who watches these horses has to know that is an unnatural way for the horses to move. And to somehow feel it’s ok to put chains around their ankles and bizarre shoes, let alone inject them and apply irritants and electric shocks ……..what is wrong with these people? How can this type of showing be allowed to continue? These are not ‘horse people’. They are abusers and self focused users of animals – on the same level as people who condone
    dog fighting. A lifetime ban on owning horses wouldn’t be long enough!

  • Terry Kerr

    This type of training has gone on for decades. One gets caught, gets a slap on the wrist & is right back at it.
    The entire walking horse industry is aware of this but they just let it go on. They need to not be allowed to show period for a very long period of time. In fact the shows should be discontinued permanently.
    Or maybe these horrible old men need a dose of the treatment they do to sore these beautiful animals. Maybe they need to have raw coronet bands, chains & the other torture devices they have used for decades.
    We are so lucky here in Ca., you don’t see many Walking horse shows here.
    I could not stand to watch that whole video…

  • Sandy B

    KUDOS TO PEPSI! Maybe now the association will do something about it!

  • Jasmine Westerman

    That is so cruel what is wrong with those people couldn’t they see the horse was in pain I wish I could treat them like there treating those horses to see how it feels