"Today, Tennessee Walking Horses are known throughout the industry
as the breed that shows abused and tortured horses."

~ Jim Heird, Ph.D., Do Right By The Horse, February 2010

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity,
you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."

~ St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, December 11, 2011

NEWS and ARTICLES - Chris Zahnd Caught and Sentenced for Soring and Stewarding PLUS His Previous Denied Petition

Chris Zahnd, five time HPA violator in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, and 2009 per the HPA database, was caught, tried, and sentenced for having a bilateral horse and by using a zip tie as a "nerve cord" along the gums of the horse to keep it from flinching during inspection.

Click here for The Tennessean article (copied and pasted below)

Click here for the U.S. Department of Justice article (copied and pasted below)

Unfortunately, all this abuser got was a mere two-year probation.  This is a slap on the wrist because he'll still be allowed to go to shows as a spectator...but we all know how spectators can "just give some advice" on the sidelines.  SHOW did ban him for life, but he can still show with WHOA, WHTA, or any other HIO if he so chooses after his two years are up unless they ban him as well.

Let's also point out that the USDOJ article says Zahnd's still allowed to have horses under his care.  So I looked up his farm, called Swingin' Gait Stables.  I found this ad in Hoofbeats online magazine: Choose your Gait Breeding Ad.  So I went to the Choose Your Gait Breeding website.  Note that two of the horses that are posted on the website are full bred Friesians, so he certainly won't be allowed NOT to work with that horse.  If he's willing to abuse TWHs, will he be willing to abuse a Friesian?  Not a question I can answer, but it certainly crossed my mind.

Ironically, I have seen photoshopped pictures floating on the Walking Horse Chat that have our famous squid friend with a hat on that says "Save Chris Zahnd."  I have also been reading some online group chats, and people are blaming the HIO, rather than Zahnd himself, for the fact that he got caught and is putting another black mark on the industry.  They said the HIO "sicked" the USDA on Zahnd, so they are to blame for this mess.

Let me make this clear: the HIO is a representative of the USDA when the USDA is not present at a show.  This is why HIOs were formed: to "police" the industry so the USDA doesn't have to do it.  If an HIO decides to send a case to the USDA and asked them to pursue it in court, they can do it.  Aren't the HIOs there to uphold the HPA, which is in place to protect the horse, as stated repeatedly by Drs. Gipson and Cezar?  Didn't the HIO do its job here?  Or perhaps the industry really wants the HIOs to be protecting the industry and keep soring and abusive methods of stewarding horses alive...?  Give that some serious thought.

I also found this particular case online when searching for Zahnd's stables.  Zahnd v. Secretary of Department of Agriculture, No. 06-11571.  Basically, Zahnd petitioned the USDA as to "whether substantial evidence supports the decision of a Judicial Officer for the Department of Agriculture that Lady Ebony's Ace, a four-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse, was sore within the meaning of the Horse Protection Act...when she was entered in a horse show in Shelbyville, Tennessee, on May 25, 2000."  The Judicial Officer did agree that the horse was sored and Zahnd was sentenced to a measely $2200 fine and a one year probation.  In this case, Zahnd's petition to the USDA was denied as the USDA agreed with the Judicial Officer.

So let's see here.  ZAHND HAD FOUR PREVIOUS VIOLATIONS, ONE BEING A ONE YEAR SUSPENSION THAT IS DOCUMENTED AS HAVING GONE TO COURT.  HIOS: WHY WAS THIS ABUSER NOT STOPPED SOONER?  How many horses had to be abused in order for him to FINALLY get "caught" and put on trail?  Why did this one incident stand out?  What is REALLY going on here?


Alabama man sentenced to probation in Tennessee Walking Horse soring case

Written by
Andy Humbles | The Tennessean

An Alabama man has been sentenced to two years of probation after he pleaded guilty to a violation of the federal Horse Protection Act involving a Tennessee Walking horse soring case.

Chris Zahnd, 45, of Trinity, Ala., was sentenced on Nov. 21, by U.S. Magistrate Court Judge E. Clifton Knowles, according to an announcement made Friday by Jerry E. Martin, United State Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Zahnd was the owner and operator of Swingin’ Gate Stables, located in Trinity, Ala., according to Martin’s office.

On July 4, 2009 at the Woodbury Lions Club Horse Show, a horse trained and stabled by Zahnd was discovered to be wearing what Martin’s office described as a nerve cord in its mouth and was determined to be bilaterally “sore” by an inspector.

At a plea hearing, Zahnd admitted to a violation of the Horse Protection Act, according to the announcement by the Martin’s office.

As part of his sentence, during his two year probationary period, probation officers and

representatives of the USDA are authorized to visit Zahnd’s barn to monitor the welfare of the

horses. Additionally, Zahnd will be required to supply information on all horses under his care, Martin’s office said.

A high stepping gait is valued by Tennessee Walking horse show judges. The Horse Protection Act prohibits trainers from using illegal soring techniques that create pain in the animal’s feet to force the horse to lift them quickly for relief.

Zahnd had already been assessed a lifetime suspension from SHOW, the Shelbyville-based organization that works with the USDA to assure Horse Protection Act compliance. It was SHOW inspectors who discovered the violation in 2009.


United States Department of Justice
The United States Attorney's Office
Middle District of Tennessee

Alabama Man Sentenced In Soring Case For Horse Cruelty Violation

December 9, 2011

Chris Zahnd, 45, of Trinity, Alabama, was sentenced on November 21, 2011, by U.S. Magistrate Court Judge E. Clifton Knowles to two years of probation, announced Jerry E. Martin, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee and Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG).  Zahnd pleaded guilty to a violation of the federal Horse Protection Act involving a Tennessee Walking horse soring case.

United States Attorney Jerry E. Martin said, “The use of illegal soring techniques undermine the equine industry while giving unfair advantage to those who engage in such cruel, painful, and inhumane training methods.  This office is committed to prosecuting such abuses that are in violation of the Horse Protection Act. ”

Special Agent-in-Charge, Karen Citizen-Wilcox stated, “The USDA- OIG will continue to aggressively pursue violations of the Horse Protection Act in order to protect horses and competitors from illegal and unfair acts and practices.”

Tennessee Walking horse show judges value a high-stepping gait called the “big lick,” a high-reach of the front legs with a long, gliding stride behind, and winning horses can be sold for significant amounts of money.  Properly training a horse to walk in this manner, however, takes significant effort and time.  Therefore, some trainers use illegal “soring” techniques to quickly accentuate a horse’s gait in order to gain a competitive edge in horse shows.  “Soring” is a technique used to create soreness and pain in a horse’s feet, which causes the horse to lift its front feet quickly in order to relieve the pain.  The Horse Protection Act prohibits the practice, which also includes the application of irritating or blistering agents on a horse’s legs.  The irritating or blistering agents causes the horse to suffer physical pain or distress, inflammation, or lameness, when walking, trotting, or otherwise moving.  The Horse Protection Act also prohibits the use of certain devices, including nerve cords, which are plastic zip ties that are often applied around a horse’s upper gum to distract the horse from any pain it might experience due to soreness when an inspector is checking a horse’s legs for such soreness.

Chris Zahnd was the owner and operator of Swingin’ Gate Stables, located in Trinity, Alabama, and trained, boarded, and showed Tennessee Walking Horses.  On July 4, 2009, at the Woodbury Lions Club Horse Show, a horse trained and stabled by Zahnd was discovered to be wearing a nerve cord in it’s mouth and was determined to be bilaterally “sore” by an inspector.  At a plea hearing,  Zahnd admitted to soring violations prohibited by the Horse Protection Act.

As part of his sentence, during his two year probationary period, probation officers and representatives of the USDA are authorized to visit Zahnd’s barn to monitor the welfare of the horses.  Additionally, Zahnd will be required to supply information on all horses under his care.
The case was investigated by agents with the USDA- OIG.  The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorney S. Carran Daughtrey.


Barbara said...

Thank you for this article and for your blog. I run a website called Barnmice and I have just posted the news of this horrible person Chris Zahnd. This led me here.

I hope you will consider commenting and adding some information to my original post, as I think this is a huge issue that people don't know enough about.

My post is here: http://forums.barnmice.com/t46717589/tennessee-walking-horse-trainer-sentenced-to-probation-and-i/

Fearless45 said...

I am a friend of the woman who's friesian horses you briefly mentioned. I am also a friend of the proclaimed "abuser".
All of the horses in that barn are very well taken care of and loved on by many including Chris. Kelly, along with the horses that she adores, has a 14 year old daughter. Kelly told me that her daughter was very upset about this article and somewhat angry that someone would just flat out lie about the friesians and Chris. Her daughter has known Chris ever sense she was a little girl and he is nothing but nice to her and everyone else. So next time, before you post burligerent lies, think about somebody else other than just yourself. ..... Oh wait, did I forget to mention that im that 14 year old ? See, two can play at that game.
P.S. I wouldn't be surprised if you don't let this comment be posted, I'd be embrasssdd to if a 14 year old just showed up a "mature" "adult". Merry Christmas ! (:

For the Tennessee Walking Horse said...

Actually, Fearless45, I find that your last few sentences actually made you lose all credibility. The "gotcha" attitude did nothing to impress me, and I certainly don't find you credible after reading that. You might as well have said nanny-nanny-boo-boo, stick your head in doo-doo--it would have had the same effect. If you want to come across as a mature adult, I'd be sure to make some changes to how you write.

Fearless45 said...

Congratulations, you proved yourself to be more mature than a 14 year old girl .

P.S. My mom is still very upset by your lies. And so am I.

Ron said...


oncourse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
For the Tennessee Walking Horse said...

Agreed, oncourse. I'm going to listen to the court that found him guilty rather than random posts on the blog supporting him and his abusive methods for training.

oncourse said...

Absolutely agree! That decision was overruled by the Judicial Officer, appealed to the Court of
Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which found against Zahnd, affirming the decision of the Judicial Officer. Citation: 66 Agric. Dec. 438, 2007.
Another aspect to this case involving Lady's Ebony Ace, Zahnd left her standing in a trailer for 12 hours prior to his attempt to show her sore. Indefensible.

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