big lick saga continues - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 12-04-2013, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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big lick saga continues

Wheelon, Gunter, Lunsford, Primm Indicted For Animal Cruelty By Grand Jury - The Daily Times

Originally published: 2013-12-04 08:14:16
Last modified: 2013-12-04 08:41:12

Wheelon, Gunter, Lunsford, Primm indicted for animal cruelty by grand jury Iva Butler (
Four men were indicted by the Blount County Grand Jury Monday on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals, including long-time Blount County Tennessee Walking Horse trainer Larry Joe Wheelon, 68.

All four men turned themselves in at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday and were free on bond by 9:45 p.m.

Wheelon and his employees Randall Stacy Gunter, 44, and Brandon Randall Lunsford, 32, were indicted on charges of aggravated animal cruelty (conspiracy to commit aggravated cruelty to livestock) and aggravated animal cruelty.

They are all three free on $10,000 bond each.

Farrier Blake Tanner Primm, 44, was indicted on aggravated animal cruelty (conspiracy to commit aggravated cruelty to Livestock. He is free on $5,000 bond.

All three are to appear in Blount County Circuit Court on Monday, Dec. 9.
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post #2 of 11 Old 12-04-2013, 11:20 AM
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Next, somebody who lives close to these shows need to take pictures of these lowlives with their indictment details AND THE DATES, print them on flyers, pass them out, and hold them up to humiliate them next time they show as a protest. BELIEVE me, $10K is affordable for bond for more people than you would know. =/

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post #3 of 11 Old 12-04-2013, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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The bond is low because they aren't likely to run or pose a threat to a human. I'd much rather see them locked up and the key thrown away but you know that isn't going to happen.

Very interesting that they indicted the farrier too. Should put all facets of the sore lick on notice.
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post #4 of 11 Old 12-04-2013, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Corporal View Post
Next, somebody who lives close to these shows need to take pictures of these lowlives with their indictment details AND THE DATES, print them on flyers, pass them out, and hold them up to humiliate them next time they show as a protest. BELIEVE me, $10K is affordable for bond for more people than you would know. =/
A $10,000 cash bond requires a $1000 fee to the bondsman. Bond is not a punishment, it's a guarantee that the accused will show up in court.

As for flyers, how much money do you have? Can you pay the judgement and defense costs of a defamation suit if by some chance these guys were aquited? Or plead guilty to lesser charges?

I live not far from them. I attended a barn party at Wheelan's in the early '90s. Never went back. The recently disgraced head of the ethics committee has a farm not 5 miles from where I sit. I don't have enough money to take the risk you suggest.

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post #5 of 11 Old 12-04-2013, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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Tennessee Walking Horse trainer indicted for horse soring cruelty - National Pet Rescue |

another article about the Wheelon indictment.

Guilherme is correct. These are not people to mess with. Let the law take it's course. Some of the more outspoken people have been threatened, some have had to move.

An indictment isn't a finding of guilt it just means there is enough evidence to go on with a trial. It kind of weeds out the weak cases before wasting everybody's time. They could still be found not guilty. It was a freak technicality that got Wheelon off the first time. Could even happen again but I'm willing to bet they are going to dot every i and cross every t. Isn't going to be a typo to be found in anything this time.

I do hope somebody is writing a screen play. This tale has all the makings of a great mini-series or soap opera.
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post #6 of 11 Old 12-05-2013, 07:00 AM Thread Starter
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and the always delightful
Roy Exum column

Roy Exum: New Indictments Foil Plans - 12/05/2013 -

Roy Exum: New Indictments Foil Plans

Thursday, December 05, 2013 - by Roy Exum

Roy Exum

A carefully-hatched plan by loathsome yet desperate men to block federal efforts that would strengthen the Horse Protection Act of 1970 may have just been foiled by an ironic twist of fate. As both Congress and the Senate ponder bills that would finally put teeth into a horse industry gone horribly awry, a notorious trainer and three others were indicted in Maryville earlier this week on 18 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals by the Blount County Grand Jury.
Larry Joe Wheelon, a longtime Big Lick trainer with a colorful history of defying the Horse Protection Act of 1970, has been ordered to appear before the Blount County Circuit Court on Monday after the Grand Jury renewed efforts bring him, two of his workers, and a farrier to justice. The indictments came as a shock, especially after it seemed the four would walk away on a legal discrepancy.
Wheelon’s barn was raided in April of this year by law enforcement officials and 19 horses believed to have been brutally sored with caustic chemicals and “stewarded” by other sadistic means were seized after being thoroughly inspected and photographed by veterinarians. But during the testimony that was being presented, one witness unknowingly was present in the courtroom and heard evidence that was being given under oath by another. The judge was forced to dismiss the case rather than proceed over a flawed trial.
The Blount County District Attorney’s office, however, reviewed the evidence, including lab-test results, and presented it to the Grand Jury. Wheelon, along with Randall Stacy Gunter, Brandon Lunsford and farrier Blake T. Primm, were promptly accused of applying acid to walking horses in “a depraved and sadistic manner for competition in horse shows.” Bond for Wheelon and his workers was set at $10,000 each, while Primm’s bond was $5,000.
Wheelon, a certified horse show judge and chairman of the Ethic Committee in the Walking Horse Trainers Association, was ecstatic when the trial was stopped but complained the publicity had “hurt his business.” He is widely known in Blount County and sources within the horse industry say his number of USDA violations is well-earned. The only horse named in this week’s indictments was Joe’s Happy Feet, believed to be owned by Laura Kate.
The indictments could hardly have been more timely.
Steven B. Smith, who like so many Big Lick officials has a record of violating the Horse Protection Act, is expected to run for the office of president of the powerful Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association at a meeting of that group this Saturday. Smith is also the state finance chairman for Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander and proponents of the pending PAST legislation fear Smith will quickly use whatever political maneuvering is necessary to block legislation that is now before Congress and the Senate.
Smith, who claims to have ridden 10 World Champions in past years, is well-recognized as a Big Lick insider and, curiously, of the 241 members of Congress who have now stepped forward to co-sponsor the Past Act, known as House Bill 1518, only one of the Tennessee’s nine Congress members has endorsed it and neither of Tennessee’s senators has acknowledged the fact that Tennessee is now recognized as the epicenter for horse abuse in the world.
To the contrary, one of the state’s lawmakers, Marsha Blackburn of Franklin, has notoriously campaigned against the bill. She was given $70,000 in campaign funds at a reception in August by the Big Lick, but has stated that has not affected her stance or her efforts to influence her colleagues which include Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga and Scott DesJarlais of Jasper. DesJarlais was given a reception at the 2012 Celebration and is known to have confronted the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Big Lick’s interests.
The PAST Act now has a majority of co-sponsors in Congress, with 241 of 435 members, so the Big Lick is eyeing the Senate as its battleground where Smith, as the state finance chairman, undoubtedly has deep ties with the state’s two leaders, Alexander and former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker. Both have been courted by the Big Lickers based in Shelbyville.
Smith’s son is reportedly employed by a public relations firm known as Purple Strategies, whose client list includes the scurrilous Big Lick that is so desperate to keep the chains, pressure bands and the pads that the American Veterinarian Medical Association and many other advocacy groups believe are used to hide soring and other painful methods that “dirty” trainers employ to achieve the unnatural gait.
In July of 2012 soring and other methods of horse abuse became a felony in the state of Tennessee and, if Wheelon and his associates are taken to trial and found guilty, they would be subject to no less than one or not more than five years in prison on each count.
Under federal law, horse abuse is still a misdemeanor despite the Horse Protection Act of 1970. The PAST Act would make torturing a Tennessee Walking Horse for a cheap blue ribbon a felony. In 2012, federal prosecutors in Chattanooga enforced the Horse Protection Act for the first time and, while they won five guilty pleas, the sentencing guidelines were extremely lax.
If the new PAST Act legislation becomes law, federal violators such as Jackie McConnell, the “star” of an undercover video shown on "Nightline" and seen all over the world, would be put in jail. McConnell and the other Big Lick trainers and owners don’t want that to happen, not to mention ethics chairman Larry Joe Wheelon.
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post #7 of 11 Old 12-21-2013, 06:37 AM
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I say throw them all in a pit along with Smith, Blackburn, J. McConnell and set fire ants on them.
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"The question is not, can they reason? nor, can they talk? but, can they suffer?" Jeremy Bentham
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post #8 of 11 Old 12-21-2013, 09:27 AM Thread Starter
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post #9 of 11 Old 12-21-2013, 04:56 PM
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The more people that come forward now the better. I am certain there will be a lot more that come forward, even if to just jump sides and look less guilty themselves as the suffering is brought in front of the rest of the world.

I do not believe for a second that people now days do not know how much pain those horses are in. The fact is, they don't care if it gets them what they want. Money, ribbons and prestige simply means more to them then the feeling of their "beloved horses"

I am sure we have all done things to our horses that the horses didn't like but having your horse in so much pain it can't stand up? Really? I can't wait until BIG LICK is a thing of the past. I believe that soon it will be.
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post #10 of 11 Old 12-21-2013, 06:50 PM
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.... And even if these evil people get away with it in this lifetime, there is no doubt in my mind that justice will be done to them in the next. We are called to animal husbandry, not animal torture. They'll get theirs in the end- I have no doubt.
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