Tennessee Walking Horse ‘torturer’ avoids jail

  • A Tennessee walking horse trainer has been sentenced to three years probation and fined $75,000 (£47,070) for “soring” horses — an illegal practice which causes walking horses to lift their legs higher for shows.

    Jackie McConnell was charged with 52 counts of violating of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) on 18 September at a federal court in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

    “I take responsibility for what I’ve done,” he said.

    In May, McConnell, 60, pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the HPA after a video filmed undercover by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) — showing him abusing the horses — was broadcast on ABC News.

    The maximum possible sentence for the crime was five years in prison and a $250,000 (£156,805) fine.

    “It was our hope that McConnell would do prison time for these terrible crimes but there are gaps in the federal law that need to be strengthened,” said Keith Dane of the HSUS.

    “[McConnell] has shown no remorse. For decades his income was based on the torture of horses.”

    The HSUS’s footage showed the horses being beaten with wooden sticks and poked with electric cattle prods at a stable outside Memphis.

    The organisation also said that the horses’ coronet bands and pasterns were slathered with chemicals then wrapped in plastic to make them hyper-sensitive.

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