I’ll happily admit I’m an optimist. Ever the glass half full type of girl I find it hard watching the news or reading about the darker side of life. That’s not to say I have rose-colored glasses. I’m aware, but I don’t like to focus on the negative. As an avid animal lover, I find animal abuse to be the hardest. That’s why when Cameron Ring, the producer on the feature film in development about Awesome Gal, the Tennessee Walking Horse who had been “sored” only to be saved by a young girl abused herself- well, the story hit hard.
I feel that it is my job to protect those who cannot protect themselves. I’m a mother and an avid supported for animal rescue and health. So that’s why, despite the tragic start to their tale, I feel that this story is so important to share.
A little background first. I met Cameron and his mother at the 2017 Equus Film Festival in NYC. They are currently filming their story in Virginia and I cannot wait to watch the finished product, hopefully released in 2019.
What is Soring?
Soring is a painful method using chemical or mechanical agents such as mustard oil, kerosene, and other painful substances on the pasterns, bulbs of the heel, or coronary bands of the horses. This excruciating method causes burning and blistering of the horses’ legs to make them exaggerate their gaits in an attempt to evade the pain upon striking the ground. The ultimate goal is what is termed the “Big Lick”.
In a nutshell, it’s a form of torture and abuse. Plain and simple.
Chance’s Awesome Gal
Awesome Gal is a gorgeous tobiano Tennessee Walking Horse who had been sored and abused early in life. Cameron and his mother are her current owners and he was kind enough to provide some history:
“Chances Awesome Gal was born on a farm in Alabama. Like most Walkers, she has an incredibly calm, sensitive, and sweet temperament. At the age of two she was sold to a farm in Ohio which needed a broodmare. The owner wanted to be able to show a mare with a perfect gait to prospective buyers of the foals. That gait is known in the Tennessee Walking world as the “Big Lick Gait”.
We don’t know the entire situation in Ohio. We can only surmise that Awesome’s life must have been brutal because she was declared unmanageable, essentially meaning the soring didn’t work. There was a lot of money on, so the fact they couldn’t break Awesome is a testament to her incredible strength and spirit.”
While in Ohio Awesome was incredibly timid and fearful from her past experiences. During her first pregnancy she escaped and ran as far as she could before giving birth near a stream. The foal drowned and she was caught, further traumatized by the loss of her baby.
She did become pregnant a second time and both dam and foal were sold to an auction in Virginia. This is where her story changes. She was well cared for and had another foal as well, but her trauma made her terrified and distrusting of humans.
“She rescued us more than we rescued her.” Cameron Ring, Awesome Gal. Click To Tweet
The Human Element
I’ve often said that horses have a way of healing us. But it goes both ways. I feel it is the connection, that intuitive empathy that has the ability to bring us together on a deep level. The world has a way of bringing us into the path of what we need.
Sissy Lou was a shy young woman from an abusive household. Needing a job but utterly terrified of horses she became employed at the barn. They were drawn to each other despite their fear of the other species in general. Something in each called to the other. Horse to human and vice versa. Perhaps it was their shared history, similar in so many ways.
Deborah Ring, was a trainer at this same barn.
“Other than Sissy Lou, my mom was the only person Awesome would put any trust in. To this day, Awesome is only comfortable around three humans, I am the third. Why she chose me, or any of us for that matter, I’ll never know, but I am glad she did because she is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
She now lives with us,” Cameron said. “The farm’s owner got out of the business and there was absolutely no way we were going to let Awesome leave us. Sissy Lou visits often.”
The story has a happy ending, yes. But more importantly it brings to light the ongoing abuse that exists at the hands of some humans, whether it is soring, domestic violence, or another atrocity. Let us be aware of the practice occurring to horses today, and become a part of stopping it. Raise awareness, speak up, and donate today.
Cameron’s final but powerful note, “This is the incredible story that inspired us to write the script; it’s a story that needs to be told. Though I can’t change Awesome’s horrendous past, I hope telling her story will change the future for thousands of other horses suffering her same fate.”
Visit the official film website below and help them tell their story.
Additional reading (warning graphic content):