LoveStory, this is what Wikipedia says about the Big Lick. Just like a lot of other disciplines, it was created to win in the show ring, and when rewarded, was made bigger and more abusive just for ribbons.
History of the "Big Lick" |
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, when Walking Horses enjoyed a surge of widespread popularity with the general public, exaggerated front leg action, especially at the running walk, drew spectators to horse shows and helped further increase the popularity of the breed. This action was also rewarded by judges. Thus began the rage for "big lick" movement. While "lite shod" horses with naturally good movement could comfortably perform this crowd-pleasing gait at the time, it took both natural ability and considerable time to properly train and condition the horse.
Some individuals, wishing to produce similar movement in less-talented horses or in less time, borrowed practices used by other breeds to enhance movement. This included action devices such as weighted shoes, "Stacks" (stacked pads), and the use of weighted chains around the pasterns, all of which, within certain limits, were allowed.
As these methods produced horses that won in the show ring, and as ever-higher and more dramatic action was rewarded by the judges, some trainers turned to less savory methods to produce high action in a hurry. These methods including excessively heavy weighted chains, use of tacks deliberately placed under the shoe into the "white line" or quick, of the hoof, and the controversial practice of "soring," the application of a caustic chemical agent to the front legs to make it painful for the horse to put its feet down.