Tennessee Walking Horse trainer Jackie L. McConnell, of Collierville, Tenn., and three others are accused of violating the Horse Protection Act (HPA) by soring horses under a 52-count indictment handed down by a federal grand jury in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Feb. 29. The indictment comes just two days after gaited horse trainer Barney Davis and two others were sentenced in their high-profile 2011 HPA violation case. |
Sharry Dedman-Beard, public information officer for the you.S State's Attorney's Office, Eastern Tennessee District, said the indictment alleges that from 2006 through September 2011 McConnell along with Jeff Dockery and John Mays, both of Collierville, Tenn., and Joseph R. Abernathy, of Olive Branch, Miss., conspired to violate the HPA by applying prohibited substances such as mustard oil, to the pastern area of Tennessee Walking Horses to achieve an exaggerated high-stepping, or so-called "big lick" gait. The indictment also describes the methods allegedly used to sore the horses, train the animals not to react to pain in their feet by causing pain elsewhere, and to otherwise mask evidence of soring.
McConnell, Dockery, Mays, and Abernathy were not available for comment on the indictment.
"McConnell, Dockery, and Mays would attempt to mask soring efforts by 'stewarding' the horses in order to reduce the level of reactions to inspections. Stewarding involves the practice of applying blunt force to a horse's head or nose when it displays an obvious reaction to pain," the indictment alleges.
The three would allegedly use black ink markers to cover soring-related scars and allegedly apply the local anesthetic Lidocaine to horses' front pasterns to prevent them from reacting to foot palpations during inspections at exhibitions, the indictment said.
As noted in the story, this comes on the heels of a trio of trainers being sentenced in another high-profile soring prosecution: The Horse | Trio Sentenced in Horse Soring Case
Soring is abuse. It needs to stop.