"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

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

ARTICLES and NEWS - Wheelon Case Continues; PSHA vs. Everyone Else; Black Week Updates; McConnell Case Horses; And More


Hey folks.  Sorry for the long absence.  I had to have surgery but am doing fine now and am back to work.

A LOT has happened since the last time I posted, so I'm going to kind of do some quick blurbs of what's going on, nothing too detailed.  I also recommend visiting Billy Go Boy's website and Facebook page to learn more.  "BGB" is an industry insider who has been reporting about the abuse and what goes on in the TWH industry since 1996.  Mostly he was posting on the Walking Horse Chat, but due to being kicked off several times (some people can't handle the truth), he started a website and Facebook page in the past couple of months to continue to get the word out.  So be sure to visit to learn more!

Wheelon Case

So we've been on pins and needles lately worrying about the Wheelon Case.  Wheelon's attorney Rob White tried to get the entire case dismissed stating that the search warrant was invalid due to "woefully lacking" specific details.  More information here.  Today in court, White also argued that the search warrant did not state that Wheelon was running a business.

However, smarter heads prevailed, and the judge dismissed the motion to suppress (click here to read it) and the preliminary hearing is underway, with the indictment being decided tomorrow.

In the meantime, Jack G. Heffington, a lawyer and industry supporter, has released a motion for return of the horses seized from Wheelon's place to their owners.  The motion states the horses were "illegally seized and held amends this motion and would show as basis for the return of the horses to the owners."  Whatever that means, since clearly Heffington can't write.  Click here for the entire motion as posted on the Walking Horse Chat.

How do we know he's an industry supporter?  From the Walking Horse Foundation website:

Jack Heffington was born into the industry. His father and grandfather owned world champion quality horses as early as the 1930s and Jack’s love for the breed began when he was a young child. Jack graduated from the University of Memphis and the University of Arkansas School of Law. He has been a practicing attorney since 1971. Jack owns The Scoop Walking Horse Publication and Tan Oak Farms, a well-known breeding operation. He is a member of TWHBEA, Charter Member of WHOA, and owns and shows many Tennessee Walking Horses including the current World Grand Champion Weanling, Bambini. Jack would like the Foundation to serve as a perpetual institution to promote and support the Tennessee Walking Horse.

And his current violations, including one- and two-year suspensions.  Conflict of Interest much?

P Jack Heffington, Trainer, Shelbyville TN, The Ritz Blitz, Not Specified, tckt 28871, 7-17-10, 10/05/2010 10/04/2011, SHOW
P Jack Heffington, Trainer, Shelbyville TN, The Ritz Blitz, Other, Define In Next Field, ticket 28871, 7/17/10, 10/05/2010-02/01/2012, SHOW
P Jack Heffington, Shelbyville TN, Bilateral Sore, 10/05/2010-10/04/2011, 1000, SHOW
P Jack Heffington, Shelbyville TN, 37160, Illegal Chains, 06/25/2009-07/08/2009, SHOW
Jack Heffington, Shelbyville TN 37160, Scar Rule, 10/27/2007-11/09/2007, KWHA
Jack Heffington, Murfreesboro TN, Bilateral Sore, 10/03/2002-06/03/2003, SSHBEA
Jack Heffington, Christiana TN 37037, Unilateral Sore, 10/04/2004-10/17/2004, NHSC
Jack Heffington, Shelbyville TN, Equipment Violation, 08/06/2003-08/19/2003, KWHA
Jack Heffington, Christiana TN 37037, Unilateral Sore, 05/06/2002-05/19/2002, NHSC

PSHA vs. Everyone Else

The PSHA has continued to show their true colors.  Now that the judge ruled in favor of the USDA concerning the SHOW/USDA lawsuit, SHOW is facing decertification before Black Week, which starts next week on August 21.

To get back at TWHBEA, PSHA is now telling them that they won't give them the show results to include in the iPEDS database.  This literally made me laugh out loud, and I'm not kidding.  Seriously, do they really think that people aren't going to find out who the winners are?  Are they just going to keep it a cute little secret and not announce in the Voice or other publications who won?  It's like a bunch of children on a playground with these guys.  PSHA's attacks are getting weaker and weaker.

Many sound horse advocates have countered with a petition: TWHBEA (Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association): Erase all references to Celebration awards on their registration and Ipeds.  I signed this because I believe the general public no longer wants a WGC that was on stacks and chains. Anyone who spends any time studying TWHs will discover that most WGCs are one-trick ponies that can't even gait correctly without being stacked and sored.  The true, natural, four-beat gait is being bred out of the TWH because of the current "need" for a crippled spider in the show ring, and TWHBEA could help by no longer recognizing it.

PSHA has also hired Purple Strategies yet again (how the heck do they even have any money left?) who expressed their opposition to S 1406 by publicly saying this.  My thoughts are in green text.

Performance Show Horse Association Announces Opposition to PAST Act
Monday, August 05, 2013

Today, the Performance Show Horse Association (PSHA) shared its opposition to the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, being offered by U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Mark Warner (D-VA). The House version – in amendment form – was introduced earlier this year by Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY).

“PSHA strongly opposes the PAST Act because it would destroy an entire equine division, costs tens of thousands of jobs, eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and millions in charitable giving, devastating communities and people’s lives throughout the country,” said Terry Dotson, PSHA Chair.

The PAST Act would:

• Eliminate a total division of the equine breed, impacting more than 10,000 horses that would be deemed no longer fit for their intended purpose;  As far as I understand, there aren't even 10,000 living TWHs that are registered.  From what the Industry itself has said, only 10% of all registered TWHs are stacked horses.  As far as I understand, 10% of 10,000 is not 10,000.

• Take from hard-working taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars of investments and income without cause or any scientific evidence; Where are these numbers coming from?  What's their basis for this assumption?  I want to see their evidence of this.

• Eliminate the Horse Protection Act’s self-regulation, which is far superior to that of the federal government and which does not need the hundreds of new federal employees required by Whitfield’s amendment;  I seriously laugh every single time I read this.  The OIG reported in September 2010 that the HIOs are not doing an adequate job and need to be eliminated.  It is proven time and time again that more horses are found sore when the USDA is there than when they're not.  And what happened to that public swabbing initiative that TWHSO (who has disappeared, by the way) was doing for the Celebration last year?  The USDA found lots of foreign substances on a lot of horses' legs, but the TWHSO swab results are nowhere in sight.  Where's that transparency now?

• Create a new federal bureaucracy that will result in a cost of tens of millions of dollars for taxpayers.  No, it won't.  VMOs are already on staff at USDA. All they have to do is train them to inspect horses.  Not that hard to do.  And again, where is this "millions of dollars" amount coming from?

Quite frankly, I thought the Horse Protection Act was just that: the HORSE PROTECTION Act.  Not the TWH SORE HORSE INDUSTRY PROTECTION Act.  I'm pretty sure I'm correct on that.

Black Week

Black Week, aka the National Celebration, begins soon, and the entries are down again. From the Walking Horse Report.

 The entry deadline for the 75th Anniversary Celebration closed on August 6, 2013. Preliminary class entries were down 22% from 2,671 entries in 2012 to 2,081 this year. The total number of entries will grow with the championship entries on the last weekend. Preliminary classes begin August 21st and continue through August 28th.

The total number of horses that make up those entries also declined. In 2012 there were 1,469 horses while this year that number slipped to 1,112 horses, a decline of 24%. Continued economic pressure along with industry turmoil and unrest have resulted in a decline of 1,336 preliminary entries since 2009, a decline of 39%.

We also have to remember that just because there are this many entries, sometimes horses don't show for various reasons.  People can scratch classes for whatever reason (horse is tired, injured, etc.), not necessarily because their horse is sored.

It has also been confirmed that 11 classes will be split.  A split class is usually done so because of a large number of entries.  But after finding this information on the Walking Horse Chat regarding the Aged Stallion class split, seems like the classes weren't that big...  Just another way for PSHA/SHOW/TWHNC to get more money, I guess.

Aged Stallion: 
A Division:
Moody Star - Bobby Hugh [HPA violator]
He's Vida Blue- Chad Wiliams [HPA violator]
Seige - Scott Beaty [HPA violator]
Lucky Grand Slam - Charlie Witherspoon [HPA violator]
He's Slim Shady - Jimmy McConnell [HPA violator and brother to Jackie McConnell]
Swing Batter Batter Swing- Danny Hughes [HPA violator]
I'm Deuce - Casey Wright [HPA violator]

B Division:
Lampshade - Bill Cantrell [HPA violator]
The Metalist - Herbert Derickson
The Golden Sovergin - Chad Williams [HPA violator]
The Thug - Dick Peebles [HPA violator]
A Bruce Pearl - Jimmy McConnell [HPA violator]
Putting Cash on the Line - Jimmy McConnell [HPA violator]
Honors - Larry Edwards [HPA violator]
Jose's Crystal Lite - Charlie Green

In a twist of good news, two of the largest TWH shows before the Celebration, Belfast and Wartrace, were extremely disappointing.  Belfast was completely canceled, and Wartrace had minimal exhibitors and small turnout in the stands.  There used to be five or six people deep around the arena to watch, and the stands were full.  Now take a look:

From Walking Horse Report Facebook page
Next, four billboards have gone up in Shelbyville to counter Black Week.

Three belong to the HSUS, as pictured below.

This one has been posted anonymously by what I've gathered are basically concerned citizens who are worried about the horse.  No other information has been found.

These billboards are hard to ignore and clear reminders to the City of Shelbyville and those who continue to support this nonsense of why the Celebration needs to end.

There is a rumor going about that SHOW was going to add the mandatory penalties into their rulebook on August 7, 2013, which is after the August 6, 2013 deadline to turn in entries.  So far I haven't gotten confirmation of this.

Finally, so far the USDA has not moved on decertifying SHOW before the Celebration, so we ask that you send in your emails and call them to ask them to do so.  Look up Dr. Chester Gipson, Dr. Rachel Cezar, APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea, and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack for contact information.

In the meantime, the USDA has announced they will be pulling shoes at the Celebration, which is a massive change and would expose more and more of these monsters.

Information from Billy Go Boy's page tells us this, which is also good news:


I'll keep you posted as I learn more.

State of Tennessee Moves to Protect Horses in McConnell Case

From The Commercial Appeal:  "State prosecutors are asking that four Tennessee Walking Horses identified as abused in the criminal case against horse trainer Jackie McConnell be taken from their owners."

I can't tell it any better than the article itself.  Below is copied and pasted from The Commercial Appeal's article written by Lela Garlington and posted August 13, 2013.  Click here for more information from The Republic in Indiana.

Tennessee wants abused Tennessee Walking Horses taken from owners
State seeks abused horses in forfeiture case

State prosecutors are asking that four Tennessee Walking Horses identified as abused in the criminal case against horse trainer Jackie McConnell be taken from their owners.

Similar to a Witness Protection Program, the horses are at an undisclosed location in Tennessee but outside of Fayette County. Since the horses were seized in March 2012, the Humane Society of the United States has paid for the cost of security, boarding, treatment and care.

The state in the lawsuit filed in Somerville claims the owners either knew or should have known that McConnell, who lives in Collierville, was barred by the USDA from training or exhibiting horses for shows. The suit said McConnell was widely known in the Tennessee walking horse exhibition community and was inducted into the Tennessee walking horse Hall of Fame before his name was later stricken because of horse soring.

“The criminal state statue specifically allows for the forfeiture of abused animals,” said Atty. General Mike Dunavant, who filed the lawsuit Friday in Fayette County Circuit Court. “The issue now is they knew or should have known. That’s the heart of the matter.”

McConnell and two others pleaded guilty in state and federal courts on charges they beat a horse with a wooden club, used an electric cattle prod on the nose and hindquarters, and painted chemical compounds on the horses legs solely for training them to compete in horse shows. The horses were under his care at Whittler Stables in Fayette County.

The Humane Society secretly shot video of the abuse.

Last month, McConnell was placed under house arrest and fined $25,000 after pleading guilty to 12 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. In September, McConnell received three years probation and $75,000 fine after pleading guilty to felony charges of violating the Horse Protection Act in Chattanooga.

The owners were not charged with abusing the horses either in state or federal court.

When reached at her and her husband’s White Oak Farm in Atoka, horse owner Lisa Marbry said she couldn’t comment about the forfeiture proceedings regarding her horse, “I’m Nancy Lopez.”

“My attorney has instructed me not to talk about this,” she said. Her attorney, Steve Farese, was in trial and could not be reached for comment.

The other horse owners are Joe Privett of Gates, Tenn., who owns “Taj Mahal,” and Beverly Sherman of Dallas and her daughter, Kelly, of Boulder, Colo., who own “Paroled in the Night” and “Mucho Bueno.”

Beverly Sherman’s husband is Floyd Sherman, who is the CEO of Builders FirstSource and have been profiled in both Forbes and Business Week. Their attorney, J. Houston Gordon of Covington, said his clients just received the complaint.

“We don’t think the state has complied with the forfeiture proceedings,” he said. “We also do not think that Humane Society of the United State has any standing to hold these horses. They and the state have essentially taken these horses unconstitutionally.”

As long as the federal and state criminal charges were pending, Gordon said his clients “had no problem using the horses as evidence.” But now that McConnell has pleaded guilty and the horses are no longer needed as evidence, Gordon added, “Neither the state nor anyone acting with or on behalf of the state has the right to take anybody’s property without due process.”

Regarding the lawsuit’s contention that the horse owner knew or should have know, Gordon said, “Obviously people wouldn’t have allowed their horses to be abused if they knew it. My clients and I don’t approve of any animal abuse period.”

Beverly and Kelly Sherman sued the state and the Humane Society in May, 2012 demanding that their horses be returned. The case has not been heard and likely will be combined with the latest lawsuit.

Circuit Judge Weber McCraw will oversee the forfeiture proceedings. No hearing date has been set for the matter.

While there were other abused horses that were named in the state animal cruelty indictment, Dunavant said not all of the horse owners are disputing the forfeiture. McConnell also forfeited ownership of his horse named in the indictment.

“All of these owners have had the opportunity to relinquish these horses and give them a chance of a life free of cruelty,” said Keith Dane, equine protection director of the Washington-based Humane Society. “They have all suffered abuse.”

If the judge rules in favor of the state, the suit asked that ownership be turned over to the Humane Society and any cost associated with the care and upkeep be charged to the former horse owners during the time of their seizure.

© 2013 Memphis Commercial Appeal. All rights reserved.

And More News...

AVMA-AAEP Soring Discussion Draws Overflowing Crowd on Capitol Hill  Seems that soring is getting more and more popular.  Looks like a bigger crowd than the audience at the Wartrace show!

L&H Distributing From Tullahoma, Tennessee Will Be Serving Beer At the Celebration.  Click here for article from Walking Horse Report.  Seems that the Coke distributor from Tullahoma that sponsored last year isn't going to be back this year...hmm, I wonder why?

Roy Exum: Budweiser is Not a Sponsor  It's important to note that Anheiser-Busch and Budweiser are not the new sponsors of the Celebration, and that they were shocked to learn that L&H Distributing was sponsoring.  Be sure to read this article completely to learn more.

That's about it for now...Stay tuned to FTTWH and Billy Go Boy for more information!


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