By Teresa Bippen
FOSH, Friends of Sound Horses, is a unique, all volunteer organization committed to supporting the welfare of the whole horse. The mission of FOSH is to promote all “sound, naturally gaited horses, with a specific emphasis on Tennessee Walking Horses.” (“Sound” means not sored). Protecting the welfare of the horse is not just about the physical but it also means protecting the animal’s emotional and mental well-being.
To provide a very brief history, FOSH was organized 15 years ago to provide an alternative show venue for owners of Tennessee Walking Horses who were unhappy with the soring abuse and use of stacks and chains. Along the way, FOSH became a voice for many other gaited breeds and has become a leading resource for all owners of gaited horses. This is done by focusing on three primary areas – each considered of equal importance.
- Educating people on sound training principles
- Supporting sound shows, events & activities
- Working to end soring
FOSH is happy that its work to end soring may soon be ending. After several attempts to pass new legislation—the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, relief may soon be in sight although not from legislation. The United States Department of Agriculture, the federal agency charged with enforcing the Horse Protection Act, has released proposed rules which would abolish the use of stacks and chains in a show ring on Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses and any other breed with a history of soring. As we go to press, we do not know the exact language but it appears the political stars are in alignment for these much needed changes.
Recognizing the many talents of gaited horses has led to the development of several FOSH programs.
The FOSH Gaited Sport Horse Program is about appreciating the talents and accomplishments of these equine athletes and promoting the gaited horse’s ability to participate in all equine sport disciplines.
The first section of the FOSH Gaited Sport Horse – FOSH Gaited Distance Program was launched 2013 to honor and reward gaited horses competing in veterinarian sanctioned Endurance, Limited Distance and Competitive Trail Rides. The second section, Gaited Dressage, was officially launched in 2014. The FOSH Gaited Dressage program honors and rewards gaited horses competing in Dressage competitions, including virtual competitions offered by the North American Western Dressage Association. FOSH dressage Tests for gaited horses are available for both English and Western Disciplines.
FOSH is a place where people who believe in using natural training practices can find a place to show and receive education in how to naturally train their horse without the gimmicks and harsh methods found in the rest of the industry.
Visit the website to learn more: http://www.fosh.info/