When it comes to horses, not everyone who has one treats them with kindness. And this is especially true in the behind-the-scenes world of horse soring. The Annual Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration has faced scrutiny for years from animal activist who want to see soring abolished. And Cameron Ring is one of those people. And so am I. He reached out to me with a story about his own rescued horse, Awesome Gal, a Tennessee Walking Horse which was once subject to this horrific act of animal cruelty on a regular basis. These poor horses have a story to tell, and the trouble is, few people are willing to stand up for what is right and give these voiceless creatures a platform at which to show the world just how evil soring actually is.
Horses shouldn't be harmed in order to achieve a certain affect. And dousing their precious hooves in toxic chemicals which erode them is never acceptable, not to mention forcing them to wear chairs and platformed shoes which cause them agony. This is horrific, and certainly not worthy of praise and medals. The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act hopes to change that, but trouble is, the pandemic has shifted the focus for many hot topics as of late in way of other more pressing issues. Cameron Ring, actor and Co-President of Andromeda Pictures, recently starred and produced a short film entitled Awesome Gal which tells the story of his own horse. (Click here to watch Awesome Gal on YouTube.)
Sadly, those who abuse these horses in favor of the "Big Lick" don't always feel remorse about the cruelty they inflict upon these defenseless equines. And worst of all, some don't feel guilty even after they've been tried and convicted for it.
For Cameron, his movie is more than just a movie, it's a movement, and his mission is clear:
"My mission is to end the horrific practice of soring that Awesome endured. Though I cannot change Awesome’s past, I can change the future for thousands of other horses suffering the same abuse by telling her amazing story. This touching account will expose the dark side of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and inspire anyone struggling through hardships."
I asked Cameron to answer a few questions that I had about his short film, as well as Awesome, his beautiful horse with stunning blue eyes you can see have a story behind them. Keep reading to learn more about his goals to get the PAST Act passed and about Awesome's happy ending.
1. How did you learn about Awesome's story, and where did you adopt her from?
"We found her at a rescue barn called Canterbury Farms, it's no longer in existence because the owners divorced and had to find homes for all the horses. We had been volunteering at Canterbury and fell in love with Awesome, we just couldn't stand the idea of leaving her."
"My mom has always been an equestrian, but her career in the Navy kept her away from it, so on retirement she started to volunteer at Canterbury so she could be around horses again. At that time, Awesome was shy, and would cower anytime someone came near the stall, except with one exception. There was one volunteer that Awesome trusted, and slowly over time, she gave my mom, Debby Ring, and me her trust as well. It was through this woman that we learned of Awesome's backstory, and she became the inspiration for the character of 'Sissy' in the short film."
2. How old was Awesome when she came into your life?
3. Is it safe to assume that Awesome competed in the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration before she was adopted by you?
"Believe it or not, she did not compete in the Celebration. She was declared "unmanageable", because she soring didn't break her like it does most other horses. Since she could make them money, she was sold to slaughter, and it was at the auction that Canterbury intervened. That's the tragedy of the TWH, either suffer the abuse, or die."
4. Awesome has obviously been through a lot. Does she carry that trauma with her still today?
Yes, very much so, though it's much better now. She used to cower at every person that came near her stall, but now she is much more open and friendly with new people, but it takes a long time for her to warm up. And there are still little things that trigger her - she's terrified of sunglasses, and of of things like tripods and even ran away from my business partner carrying her ukulele. Those all must bring back horrible memories - my guess is things like Ukuleles and tripods resemble the clubs they use to beat her with. And apparently the abusers wore sunglasses. Towards the bottom of our website, it will show you what I am talking about. Just to warn you - it is very disturbing."
5. What's something special about Awesome that you want others to know?
"Hmm, well there is so much. She is extremely protective of new horses that come to the pasture. She will protect them if any horse picks on them, and give them comfort and companionship. Basically, mother them. I think it goes back to when she lost her first baby at the soring barn. She refused to go into the barn to give birth, because she didn't want her baby born into that horror. They literally could not catch her. She stayed as far away as he could from the barn, and a rainstorm came.... she gave birth in the rain, and the baby drowned. She stood over the body for four days, before they finally roped her and dragged her back to the barn. She now has a very strong motherly instinct with all the newbies at the barn."
6. Is there anything else that you'd like to mention?
Yes, I'd definitely like to give Frank Calo of FMC Productions a lot of credit. The short film wouldn't have been made without him. He's an experienced director and producer who's been around forever (he even won Sundance in 2000). I showed him the first rough draft of the concept, and he immediately loved it. He wrote the feature length script, and directed the short film. Now he is working to secure funding for the feature length. Also, I'd like to give a shout out to my business partner Gabi Faye, my cofounder for Andromeda Pictures."
I'd like to give a special "thank you" for Cameron for allowing me to share Awesome's story. The world can certainly use more horse advocates like him who pioneer for the better treatment of our equine friends. If you know someone who'd enjoy reading about Awesome's happily ever after, don't forget to share this story with them.
If you'd like to contact your local legislature to let your voice be head in favor of the PAST Act, you can do so here. On July 25, 2019, the US House of Representatives passed the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act (H.R. 693), with 333 Representatives voting in favor of the legislation. But it still needs to receive a passing vote in the Senate in order to make it to the President's desk.