"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

Monday, October 1, 2012

NEWS and ARTICLES - Mullins Resigns From SHOW and More

And please do it more than once to emphasize the importance of this to be passed!
Go to www.senate.gov and www.house.gov and go to the upper right corner to find your Congress person.

Our Facebook group continues to be hot and jumping with news about the World of Soring.  Here's the latest.

SHOW President Resigns at Sept 27, 2012 Board Meeting

From the Walking Horse Report.  Now keep in mind, most board members/officers are in office for six years with most associations.  Mullins has resigned after three.


Subject: Mullins Resigns From SHOW

The Report has learned that Dr. Stephen L. Mullins has resigned his position as President of the SHOW HIO. Mullins informed the SHOW board of directors at their meeting on September 27, 2012. Mullins has been the President of SHOW since 2009. Mullins will continue in his current role through the end of 2012 and will continue to support the SHOW HIO in an advisory capacity in the future.

During the board meeting Mullins thanked the board for their trust in him and read the following letter to the board of directors.

SHOW Board,

In November 2009, I gave up my Veterinary Practice and was honored to become President of SHOW HIO. I believe we, the TWHNC and SHOW have made great strides inside this industry. It has been a long winding road and this industry still has many hurdles to get over but I believe the industry is definitely headed in the correct direction.

I am very grateful to this Board for allowing me the freedom over the last 3 years to do the things which I and the advisors thought needed to be done. I also realize that quite often when tough choices had to be made on certain suspensions or when other circumstances came up, this Board stood behind my decisions even though it was potentially hurting this Board and its horse shows. I for one have come to know that the integrity of this Board is beyond what even I expected and for that I will be eternally grateful.

I can go on forever about my gratitude to this Board and to the TWHNC, but simply want to say thank you for your support throughout the last 3 years.

However, I am asking this Board to allow me to transition out of my position. I believe the industry has reached a point where it is time to move in a different direction. I also know that I personally have reached a point where I physically and mentally need to change. I also know that you will be approached with a new proposal for SHOW HIO within the next few weeks. I believe this will help the Celebration with the financial burden of SHOW and will also potentially get the TWHNC out of the inspection business.

I believe I need to remain at my position through the end of the year. This will get us through the Fall horse shows. We will then have appeals and hearings to get through and then will potentially have a new transition. I will then be glad to stay in an advisory role with SHOW and would be honored to help the Celebration in any way possible in the future.

I just want to say a simple, humble “Thank you” to each and every person on this board and to this great horse show. I hope I have done each of you the job this great horse show deserved and I will again always be grateful.

Dr. Stephen L. Mullins


As someone from our Facebook page pointed out, first he says, "I believe the industry is definitely headed in the correct direction."  But later on, he says, "I believe the industry has reached a point where it is time to move in a different direction."  So which is it, Mullins?  Are they doing good or bad?

This letter is very vague, of course; I'm wondering what this "new proposal" is going to be.  But overall, it sounds like a polite summation written by a rat deserting a sinking ship.  So, let's keep our eyes peeled on what HPA violator they'll put in charge next!

Next, Jackie McConnell will soon be tried under Tennessee state animal welfare laws with the same counts of animal cruelty from the Federal case.  Click here for the article.  The court date has been bumped to November 13.  This gives us plenty of time to send in emails and calls to the judge's office to ask for the maximum sentencing possible.  Good things to ask for are for a lifetime ban of owning, training and boarding horses, and a hefty fine to go with either some jail time or community service.  If that can't be achieved, perhaps house arrest with supervision when going to doctor's appointments would be a good option.

I do want to point out that Jackie was convicted in March (I think that's right--I could be wrong on the month), but the new law making animal abuse a felony didn't go into effect until July 1.  So please note that he will not be tried under the new law.  TOTALLY sucks, but hey, it's all about timing.

To contact the judge's office:  
Call the Fayette County Courthouse at 901-465-5205; ask for Mike French or his assistant, Melissa Douglass.
Email melissa.douglass@tncourts.gov Attn: Mike French, Mcconnell case. If your email gets kicked back, call the above phone number.
(Thanks to Robin P. from Facebook for getting this information!)

McConnell's name was not erased from the Celebration as they promised.  We all heard that the Celebration banned Jackie McConnell and stripped all traces of him from the show grounds.  But ho, what is this?  A clearly defined trophy called the Odel McConnell Memorial Challenge Trophy that is sponsored by him and his wife, written plain as day in the Celebration showbill.

Seems that money's the key, not who gives it to them.  Apparently the McConnells paid for this trophy some time ago, but the Celebration neglected to take his name off of it as a sponsor.  Will wonders never cease?

We have some very good news for the horse, because now several owners are being investigated concerning the McConnell abuse case.  Click here for the article from timesfreepress.com, which is copied and pasted below.


Horse owners could be next in soring prosecutions
September 23, 2012
By Pam Sohn

As a famed Tennessee walking horse trainer begins his federal probation and prepares to defend himself against 17 state misdemeanor charges related to soring, a new battle line is forming for possible prosecutions of horse owners.

For now, that fight seems to be unfolding around eight horses seized March 1 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from Jackie McConnell's stable near Collierville, Tenn., and now sequestered by the Humane Society of the United States.

The state cases — all charging cruelty to animals — have been taken by 25th Judicial District Attorney Mike Dunavant.

Affidavits in the case detail dozens of instances of abuse suffered by seven horses in McConnell's care, some of which were among the eight seized. Those instances include:

• From March through May 2011, an undercover operative saw McConnell or his stablehands apply soring substances to horses' legs on more than a dozen occasions — at least twice while owners watched.

• McConnell was observed beating a horse on the head with a large stick.

• McConnell twice used a "hot shot" cattle prod on a walking horse referred to as a "field colt" while a stablehand rode him.

McConnell and two stablehands, John Mays and Jeff Dockery, face 17 counts of animal cruelty involving different types of abuse including soring and stewarding. Soring is the use of caustic chemicals and chains on the horses' legs and feet to induce their exaggerated "big lick" gait. Stewarding is training the animals not to show pain.

The new charges, Dunavant said, allow officials to investigate how much owners knew and whether they participated in the alleged soring of their horses.

Dunavant also said state law provides that a court may prohibit people convicted of animal cruelty "from custody, possession, or ownership of any animals in the future."

Authorities say the seized horses still are in Tennessee, but they are in the custody of the Humane Society.

Keith Dane, the society's equine director, said the horses are "being well cared for pending the outcome of the cases."

According to affidavits signed by USDA investigator Julie McMillan, the horses have not always been so safe.

On five different days an undercover operative watched as McConnell oversaw his workers putting substances on a horse named Master Streaker. On one occasion, the horse's owner also watched, according to the affidavit.

In late spring 2011, Mays told the operative that "croton" had been applied to the pasterns of Master Streaker. The operative saw that the horse "exhibited observable signs of physical pain."

Later the same day, Master Streaker was seen "standing in her stall, repetitively picking up her feet and standing in the 'bucket stance,' which is indicative of soring. Later in the day Master Streaker was seen lying down in her stall on her side with her legs stretched back."

The following day, "the undercover operative overheard a conversation between John Mays and Jackie McConnell, where Mays tells McConnell that when he went to get Master Streaker from her stall, she would not move. McConnell asks Mays if she is 'paralyzed' and Mays says 'yes.' John Mays tells the undercover operative that Master Streaker is 'sore' from the 'croton' and that 'she ain't used to it yet,'" according to an affidavit.

Moving cases forward

On Friday, Dane applauded the state's interest in the owners of the seized horses.

"We don't have the authority to charge, of course, but we do believe that some of the owners of the horses that were in the barn when this investigation went on ... did have culpability," Dane said.

He said some of their horses previously had been ticketed for soring while being trained by McConnell.

"That should tend to suggest that they had known he was soring horses in the past, but they continued to leave their horses in his training and care," Dane said.

Last week in federal court here, McConnell was sentenced to three years' probation, fined $75,000 and ordered to perform 300 hours of community service for the USDA.

Dane said it's unclear what eventually will happen to the seized horses. The owners of at least one horse have sued the Humane Society, but Dane said he doesn't know the details of the suit.

Authorities say each horse is valued at $50,000 to $75,000.

Dunavant said the federal convictions against McConnell, Mays and Dockery will not increase any future state penalties against them if they are found guilty on the state charges.

A state Class A misdemeanor conviction can draw up to 11 months and 29 days in Tennessee. But McConnell, with no prior criminal record related to the current charges, "is statutorily presumed to be a qualified candidate for a suspended sentence and probation," Dunavant said.

Soring now is a felony in Tennessee, but when these charges were brought, it was a misdemeanor, according to authorities.


And, click here for the arrest warrants explaining the events that are the state claims of McConnell abusing animals.  WARNING - very graphic.  Might be a bit difficult to read.

Two owners, Joe Privett and Leslie McGowan witnessed their own horses, Taj Mahal and Cash Sweep, respectively, being sored right in front of them and did nothing about it.  And the industry says owners don't know what's going on...

Finally, the HSUS has put together a really nice fact sheet about HR 6388.  Click here for the pdf.  The HSUS has told us it's okay to send this to our legislators to help explain why we need this to pass.  And feel free to pass this on to your friends to help them learn more.  We need to keep HR 6388 in the spotlight to make sure it passes!

Thanks again to everyone who is keeping up the fight to save the horse.  We have to help everyone learn more and make sure we have tons of help to stop this horrible practice and make the industry stop the lies and continue breaking the law.

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