Who Is FOSH?

FOSH, Friends of Sound Horses, is a unique, all volunteer organization committed to supporting the welfare of the whole horse. This means protecting the animal’s emotional, mental and physical well-being.

This is done by focusing on three primary areas – each considered of equal importance.

FOSH offers education into the proper training and treatment of horses.

The FOSH show program is based on rules that address the welfare of the whole horse. This commitment to animal welfare over the number of show entries makes FOSH unique.

Two-year-old horses are not allowed to be shown under saddle with FOSH because there is conclusive evidence that horses of this age are not physically, mentally or emotionally ready for such stress. Horses’ hooves must not exceed 41/2 inches in toe length because recent studies indicate setting the hoof at an unnatural angle proves detrimental to the physical and emotional well-being of the animal. Shoe size is carefully governed for the same reason.

In addition to an active show program, FOSH offers the Independent Judges Association. IJA judges receive extensive training in how to recognize and reward naturally gaited horses that are sound emotionally, mentally and physically.

FOSH is highly respected for its humane efforts in closely working with the USDA, American Association of Equine Practitioners, The Humane Society of the United States and Horse Inspection Organizations (HIO) to enforce the Horse Protection Act. FOSH is the only organization that provides public comprehensive information about individuals ticketed or suspended for soring.

FOSH also created and supports its own highly skilled and deeply committed HIO  with DQP’s who provide thorough, humane inspection for FOSH shows and any other gaited shows that don’t support stacks, pads, chains or heavy shoes.

Each year, FOSH reaches out to others promoting sounds horses by offering financial support and information. One year FOSH offered monetary rewards to writers doing effective and educational stories and articles on soring, its impact or alternatives.

The following year, a program offered financial incentives for youth who submitted written and video reports of their own sound training programs. In 2008, three girls scouts earned their Gold Award for a moving DVD on soring called “See it Through My Eyes.” FOSH helped provide information for the video’s creation and later supplied funds to have it reproduced and sent to girl scout troops in states most know  for soring.

FOSH was the founder and creative force behind the first ever Sound Horse Conference in 2008. Representatives from the USDA, various HIOs, veterinarians, farriers,  breed registries and other gaited breed were brought together to hear information on the current soring status and to work together to eliminate such suffering in the future. The 2009 Conference was in Florida and the 2010 Conference in Kentucky. Proceedings of the 2010 Conference can be found on line under Sound Horse Conference. Further information on the Sound Horse Conference can be found at www.SoundHorseConference.com or call 800-651-7993.

The FOSH rule books embrace a variety of gaited breeds, disciplines and activities. Gaited dressage, judged trail rides, competitive trail obstacle courses, equitheater, horse shows, educational clinics and equine retreats are just of few of the activities supported by FOSH.

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.

This organization is not a group of radicals. Rather, FOSH is an eclectic collection of people from all over the world united by the desire to seek out new methods to detect and prevent inhumane treatment of all gaited breeds by offering education and alternative, sound activities.


Dear FOSH Member:

Thank you for writing. Actually, there are many reasons for supporting FOSH and we consider ourselves to be substantially different from other equine organizations in many ways. Distinguishing between the groups’ differences is not always easy; however, I will give it a try.

The Horse: The horse comes first with FOSH–not exhibitors and the show ring. It is the HORSE. Because our philosophy is about putting the horse first, we no longer allow two-year olds under saddle, manhole cover shoes and feet longer than 4 ½ inches. Our philosophy is different from most other equine showing and inspection organizations, and we take risks with these rules. Sometimes, it’s about doing the right thing and not what’s popular.

Alternative Programs: FOSH honors and respects all breeds of gaited horses. FOSH has developed programs where all gaited breeds can compete with each other on a level playing field. The FOSH Gaited Sport Horse Programs offer opportunities for gaited horses to participate in sports such as distance riding, dressage, equine agility, jumping, gymknaha, cross country, combined driving and eventing and be recognized internationally as gaited sport horses.

Soring: No other gaited horse showing organization fights soring to the extent of FOSH. We have spent thousands of dollars attending Horse Protection Act (HPA) meetings, researching soring/pain/ pressure technology, and fighting the evildoers tooth and nail on ideas they try to slide through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). We post the HPA suspensions and Horse Industry Organization (HIO) Meeting Minutes on our website; organized three Sound Horse Conferences; and track and quantify thousands of HPA violations (this is a tremendous use of our dollars and time) so we can issue press releases and keep the world informed.

Other groups offer a sound show ring; however, offering a sound show ring is required by law. If you want a sound venue in which to show, there are several organizations where one can exhibit. If you want to support an organization that actively works to stop soring, puts the natural, gaited horse first and created the Sound Horse Conference, then I firmly believe you should rejoin and support FOSH.

Trainers: Because the horse comes first, FOSH does not allow trainers on its Board. We realize there are sound, wonderful trainers who are FOSH members; however, we have observed that some organizations suffer turmoil through trainer battles.

There is also a perception that trainer Directors have a show ring benefit over others or push for rule changes that provide advantages to them and their clients at the expense of the horse. This could cause the FOSH “horse first” mission to become watered down so we avoid this conflict by disallowing trainers.

Judges: We believe recognition of the Horse Protection Act is important to the world’s perception of whether an organization is sound, and FOSH will not license anyone as a judge who has past HPA suspensions.

IJA Exhibition Rules: FOSH IJA rules are designed to showcase a more natural horse because the naturally moving horse will be more marketable and less likely to end up at auction or with an unhappy owner and home. Newcomers to gaited horses should not need gimmicks or special shoes for their horses to gait; however, they should not be a complete newbie to horses either.

Organizations that sponsor exhibition of horses trained with gimmicks are not actively promoting the natural horse, even if it is a sound show ring. Let’s face it, enough gaited horses have been discarded through the years because they have not gaited properly. So, let’s get to naturally moving horses that judges recognize and owners and novices can easily ride without specialized bits and manipulative shoeing.

Transparency: FOSH strives for transparency in its operations and member communications. Communication is a two way street, and we encourage you to communicate with us if you have questions and concerns. Our budget does not permit us to have paid employees so a response may take awhile to reach you as we are all volunteers and many of us have full-time positions.

Education: We publish our Sound Advocate magazine six times a year to share news with our members about themselves and provide information on equine welfare, training, exhibiting, sportsmanship in the ring, gait biomechanics, hoof care and shoes, dressage for gaited horses, gaited breeds, non-show events for gaited horses, the HPA, USDA and HIO happenings and much more.

Inspections: Our inspections are the gold standard in the industry and our DQPs want to ensure sore horses are not in the show ring. We pay close attention to the HPA regulations and use our experience to negotiate the Operating Plan when it is up for revision.

Promotion and Marketing: Aligning with FOSH provides a marketing advantage to trainers, breeders and their clients. FOSH is highly respected and nationally known for the strides it has taken in promoting sound horses and in the fight against soring. Our rules may not be a convenient nor a popular fit with the desires of trainers, breeders, exhibitors and clients; however, the rules can be justified when people realize that if humans do not address the welfare of the horse, no one will. This provides another marketing tool as individuals, breeders and trainers sell and promote their breeding philosophy and/or training methods and horses.

In closing, if someone is going to choose a gaited horse group to join, we want it to be FOSH so that we can continue to fight soring, promote the humanely trained and exhibited horse and offer alternative programs for the sound and natural gaited horse. We do not have breed registry revenue–we only have membership revenue and private donations so we appreciate your continued or new membership and sharing our news with others.

Got Gait? Go FOSH!

 Whether you are seeking information on gaited horses or enjoying your horse or are interested in competing, Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH) offers it all when your passion is for the gaited horse. FOSH is a membership organization that welcomes participation by owners of all gaited horse breeds to come together and support the gaited horse in all equine pleasures and disciplines. With a robust set of resources for the gaited horse enthusiast whose needs are often not addressed in mainstream media or clubs, Going for a FOSH membership provides many rewards.

For those wanting to compete, FOSH launched its Gaited Sport Horse program in 2013 to recognize and honor the athleticism of all gaited breeds with three flagship disciplines: Gaited Distance–the first ever distance recognition program for gaited horses; Gaited Dressage— acknowledged by the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) and the Western Dressage Association of America (WDAA) as a resource for gaited dressage judges and competitors; and Gaited Agility—FOSH Ambassador, Lady C, agility horse extraordinaire, was honored as a Limited Edition Breyer Model Horse. (www.FOSHGaitedSportHorse.com).

If your desire is the show ring, FOSH provides licensed judges and the Independent Judges Association (IJA) Rulebook covering 15 gaited breeds for use with all gaited breed horse shows or for the shows offering gaited horse classes. FOSH is also a USDA certified Horse Industry Organization (HIO) and operates a Designated Qualified Person (DQP) program under the Horse Protection Act. Have a gaited horse and unsure of that gait? FOSH provides free gait analysis to those who submit a video.

Need gaited horse information and resources? FOSH publishes the Sound Advocate, the only all gaited breed horse magazine in print in the world. The Sound Advocate is a bimonthly international publication providing breed profiles, sound training and education for gaited horse owners and heartwarming stories of our members and their journeys with their gaited horses. New in 2014, FOSH will launch an all gaited breed saddle time and gaited horse owner personal growth recognition program.

So, if you enjoy the smooth ride of a gaited horse, then go FOSH because you got Gait!

FOSH is a national leader in the promotion of natural, sound gaited horses and actively fights against the cruel abuse of soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. For more information about FOSH or to become a member and join in the fun, visit www.fosh.info or e-mail data@fosh.info.