Tennessee Walking Horse Trainer Given Fine, ProbationBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · October 9, 2012
Tennessee Walking Horse trainer Jackie McConnell will pay $75,000 and serve three years of probation as a result of federal charges related to transporting and showing horses that had been subjected to abuse.
After undercover films recorded McConnell beating horses, using a cattle prod, and applying caustic chemicals to horses’ legs, charges were filed against the trainer, who pleaded guilty to a single charge of animal cruelty and agreed to accept probation and a fine. Two other men pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges related to the case and were sentenced to probation.
Accusations of abusive treatment have been made against Walking Horse trainers in the past, and the industry had instituted self-policing strategies to curb cruel and painful practices. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a horse show can protect itself from legal liability by hiring a designated qualified person to inspect horses entered in the show for compliance with the Horse Protection Act (HPA). The HPA prohibits horses subjected to soring (use of caustic substances or other practices that increase sensitivity or pain in a horse’s feet or legs) from participating in shows, sales, exhibitions, or auctions. The HPA also states that sored horses cannot be transported to or from any of these events.
Various groups including the Humane Society of the United States are working to expand the HPA so that soring practices themselves will be defined as illegal. At the present time, only the transportation and showing of sored horses are violations of law.