NASHVILLE, Tenn., Thu May 17, 2012 – Soft drink maker Pepsi said on Thursday that it was dropping sponsorship of a prestigious national horse show, one day after ABC News broadcast footage of a horse in training for a show being beaten by a trainer.
The Walking Horse National Celebration said that Pepsi had been a sponsor since 2010 of the nation’s leading competition for Tennessee Walking Horses, a breed known for its high-stepping gait.
“We have ended our sponsorship of the event,” Pepsi spokesman Vincent Bozek said on Thursday without elaborating.
Neither Pepsi nor officials of the horse show would confirm the reason for the cancellation of the sponsorship. But an expert on the Tennessee Walking Horse show circuit, who asked not to be identified, said he believed it was because of the ABC News report, which showed an abusive practice known as “soring.”
The Humane Society of the United States conducted an undercover investigation and filmed the video which was given to ABC News and broadcast, said Keith Dane, the society’s director of equine protection.
An animal rights activist went to work in a horse barn and secretly taped the abuse in March and April 2011. It shows the horses being beaten with wooden sticks and poked with electric cattle prods. The horses’ ankles were slathered with caustic chemicals and ankles wrapped with plastic to amplify the pain.
The chemicals induce pain and cause the horse to raise its front legs high while in the show ring.