An Open Letter to Horseback Readers

To the Editor:

Unfortunately Jackie McConnell got off with a plea bargain and probation for multiple counts of federal violations FOR YEARS on Tenn. Walking Horses. The article says “the convictions send a clear message…” etc but it doesn’t. It says you can do this for years, pay a small fine and go on doing it, which is what every single one of those trainers has done. What use are animal abuse laws if they are not enforced?

“At the 2011 Tennessee Walking Horse National  Celebration, 52 of the 52 horses randomly chosen by the USDA tested  positive for prohibited foreign substances applied to their  pasterns. Foreign substance violation rates (for soring, numbing, or  masking agents) at all USDA-inspected shows were 86 percent in 2010  and 97.6 percent in 2011, an indication that soring is widespread in  the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.”

These cruel tactics are still pervasive. And what is wrong with the owner (of the horse in the video, the 2011 Reserve grand champion), Wilsene Moody, that she would allow this?

Would you let this man near your horse? No, but they do, because the JUDGES still reward this. There is pain written all over this horse’s eyes. and face. When I was in Tennessee 10 yrs ago I saw this and it disgusted me. The fact that it’s still going on full force is such a disgrace. Allowing cruelty to these beautiful peaceful animals…

Lin Sutherland *  Austin, Texas

re: article

After A Lifetime of Horse Abuse, McConnell Allowed to Plead to Only
> One Count
> May 22, 2012
> The Humane Society of the United States Reacts to Guilty Pleas in
> Federal Horse Abuse Case
In the wake of The Humane Society of the United
> States
undercover investigation into the shocking abuse of
> Tennessee Walking Horses, notorious trainer Jackie McConnell pleaded
> guilty today to a felony conviction for charges related to
> conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act. Two of McConnell
> associates also pleaded guilty to related charges.
> The HSUS expresses its thanks to U.S. Attorney William C.
> Killian and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven S. Neff and M. Kent
> Anderson for pursuing criminal charges for violations of the HPA,
> and congratulates them on securing guilty pleas, including
> McConnell
s guilty plea to the charge of felony conspiracythe most
> serious of the 52 counts in the federal indictment handed down by a
> federal grand jury in February. Federal charges are still pending
> against a fourth individual charged in the case. McConnell and two
> others also face 31 counts of violating Tennessee
s state animal
> cruelty statute in a separate matter that is still pending.
Although the Horse Protection Act has been in place for more than
> 40 years, violators have seldom been prosecuted,
said Keith Dane,
> director of equine protection for The HSUS.
The McConnell case, and
> the conviction and imprisonment earlier this year of Barney Davis

> another Tennessee horse trainer
send a clear message to anyone who
> sores a gaited show horse that soring is a federal crime, and the
> government will prosecute violators. We thank the U.S. Attorney
> Office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector
> General, and Federal Bureau of Investigation for their work in these
> cases, and urge the federal government to continue to make
> enforcement of the Horse Protection Act a top priority.

> For seven weeks in 2011, The HSUS conducted an undercover
> investigation in McConnell
s Whitter Stables, showing individuals
> abusing horses by using painful chemicals on the horses
front legs
> to force them to perform an artificially high-stepping gait for show
> competitions. The footage also shows horses being brutally whipped,
> kicked, shocked in the face, and violently cracked across the heads
> and legs with heavy wooden sticks. The nation was shocked when this
> inexcusable cruelty was released to the public on ABC
s Nightline
> last week.
> The HSUS investigator documented McConnell soring Moody Star, the
> winner of the 2010 Celebration Reserve World Grand Champion owned by
> Wilsene Moody. Some in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry deny
> that soring is still a pervasive part of the training process used
> to produce the
Big Lick the gait frequently accomplished by
> mechanical or chemical soring
that wins ribbons and titles at
> breed competitions. But at the 2011 Tennessee Walking Horse National
> Celebration, 52 of the 52 horses randomly chosen by the USDA tested
> positive for prohibited foreign substances applied to their
> pasterns. Foreign substance violation rates (for soring, numbing, or
> masking agents) at all USDA-inspected shows were 86 percent in 2010
> and 97.6 percent in 2011, an indication that soring is widespread in
> the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. At the time of The HSUS
> investigation, McConnell was under a five-year federal
> disqualification from participating in horse shows
yet continued
> to train horses and get them into the show ring.
> The HSUS has long been dedicated to ending this inhumane practice,
> and in the wake of this investigation, will be doing even more to
> root out and expose the terrible abuses of show horses. Significant
> reforms to the HPA are needed and we will be working with Congress
> to strengthen the law, toughen the penalties, and provide adequate
> funding to give USDA the tools it needs to stamp out this cruel
> practice once and for all.

1 comment for “An Open Letter to Horseback Readers

  1. Robin Bailey
    May 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Lin, I completely agree with your outrage for this so-called plea bargain, but I also found the following in an article by Duane Gang writing for The Tennessean: “The guilty plea is not final until U.S. District Court Judge Harry S. Mattice, Jr., accepts the agreement. That decision is expected at a Sept. 10 sentencing hearing. Carter said he would recommend Mattice accept the plea agreement but would point out the provision on probation. He called it unusual. If Mattice does not accept the plea agreement, McConnell would have the right to withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial.”

    One commenter, Peggy Kuhn, wrote “Please to all invloved and following the Walking Horse verdict on Jackie McConnell I just spoke with the Judges office…They ask that we all write letters concerning this matter hand written or typed letters no e-mails or calls…..LETS START WRITING AS MANY LETTERS AS WE CAN. ….Send to 900 Georgia Ave. RM#104 Chattanoga TN.37402 Attention Judge Mattice Jr. LETS GET TO WORK to get the maximum sentence…”

    Perhaps if the judge can hear from all of us just what we think of this farce of a deal, then perhaps he will reject it and Jackie McConnell and company will have to stand trial for their crimes and face true punishment. This man’s past history of soring violations date back to 1979 and should count for something – old age indeed! If he can abuse an animal, he can do the time.

    Folks, let’s do as Peggy has asked and let the letter writing to Judge Mattice begin. It appears that WE, and not the prosecutors, are now the only voice for those horses. Let’s do our best to see that real justice is served.

Comments are closed.