Good News in 2014 Looks More Hopeful for Ending Soring

walking horse

Often it seems that nothing gets accomplished in the ongoing fight against soring horses. The proposed 2013 PAST legislation (Prevent All Soring Tactics Act) may be a dead issue. Bringing people who sore horses to justice is often stymied by judges who don’t impose penalties to the limit of the law. By the way, those penalties are often not strong enough to really punish people like the person who did the damage seen in the above picture. But there are real heroes in the struggle. Thanks to the great folks at for this news of what happened in 2014 to help defeat soring.

NEWS, ARTICLES and HOW YOU CAN HELP – Christmas for the Tennessee Walking Horse Continues Into the New Year


I am amazed, simply amazed at the hard work and dedication of the sound horse people in the past year of 2013.  December turned out to be a wonderful month for the TWH, and the gifts just keep on giving.  I was actually going to put together a timeline of what happened, but good ol’ Billy Go Boy did it for me!  Here’s a quick rundown of the timeline, and you can read it directly here.  I have added links to the confessions so everyone can read them.


  • Midnight Sun statue leaves the TWHBEA building.
  • Kentucky After Christmas Sale is inspected by IWHA; no stacked horses show up.


  • David Howard forces WHTA trainers to join PSHA.


  • PSHA attempts to tell the USDA on short notice they will be the HIO at the Trainers Show.  USDA says no.  Lots of empty seats at the show.
  • PSHA Chair Terry Dotson, Jeffrey Howard, Mickey McCormick and Lobbyist Jeff Speaks meet for 15 minutes with U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and promise to clean up soring.


  • Blount County SPCA/USDA obtain search warrant and raid Larry Joe Wheelon’s Barn in Maryville, Tennessee.  Wheelon is arrested a few days later, and 19 horses are seized.


  • TWHBEA Executive Committee votes 7 – 4 to endorse HR 1518,  the PAST Act.
  • TWHBEA Directors refuse to ratify Executive Committee endorsement of HR 1518.
  • TWHBEA President Tracy Boyd issues his statement endorsing the PAST Act.  Boyd is later fired from Baskin-Irby Construction.


  • TWHBEA CEO Ron Thomas takes early retirement.
  • TWHBEA hires Tracy Boyd to replace Ron Thomas.
  • Former TWHBEA President Marty Irby starts campaigning for HR 1518.


  • Loyd  Black is selected Interim TWHBEA President.
  • Celebration confiscates TWHBEA’s building on Celebration grounds.
  • Celebration refuses to give TWHBEA show records.
  • Jackie McConnell sentenced in Somerville, Tennessee – fined $25,000.00 and sentenced to one year house arrest, five years monitored probation and not being able to own, train, board, or have any dealings with horses for the next 20 years.
  • Fayette County Assistant District Attorney  Mark Davidson files action to confiscate Floyd and Beverly Sherman’s horses seized at Jackie McConnell’s.
  • U. S. Judge Terry Means upholds the USDA Mandatory Minimum Penalties in a Summary Judgement in Fort Worth, Texas.
  • David L. Howard announces $931,000 in losses to the Celebration over five years and that SHOW HIO in debt for $560,000.
  • HSUS gives $1,000 to sponsor the TWHBEA World Versatility Show – the first time in history HSUS has ever supported a horse show of any kind.
  • Sound Horse Advocate Donna Benefield, W.Ron Dehaven, AVMA CEO; FOSH President Teresa Bippen and Gaited Horse Clinician Gary Lane meet for one hour with U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.


  • Preliminary Hearing for Larry Joe Wheelon is held, and the charges are dismissed on a technicality.  Wheelon is found neither guilty nor innocent.
  • Outraged Blount County citizens start Petition Drive for the Blount County D.A. to take the case to Grand Jury.
  • Celebration officials David L Howard and John T. Bobo accept the Mandatory Minimum Penalties for the Celebration.
  • Pat Stout asks the Executive Director about polling TWHBEA members on HR 1518, and she is told that is not a good idea and don’t bring it up.
  • PSHA Chair Terry Dotson gets two horses turned down sore the first night of Celebration, one being Honors, the “shoe-in” for winning the WGC.  Dotson argues with a USDA VMO.
  • Honors is turned down for two scar rules and barely misses getting a two-footer sore violation.  The visibly upset crowd voices displeasure and leaves the Celebration in an uproar.
  • Terry Dotson resigns as PSHA Chair, packs up horses and leaves during the Celebration.
  • On Friday, August 30, SHOW HIO finds 0 of 138 inspections while the USDA finds 10 of 75.
  • SHOW HIO finds 30 HPA violations for the entire show.  USDA spot checks horses and finds 70 HPA violations.
  • Celebration attendance is the lowest it has been in years, a decline from 162,176 attendees from 2004 for Saturday night to 95,400 in 2013.


  • TWHBEA VP of Horse Shows Pat Stout decides to poll the TWHBEA members on the HR 1518/S1406 legislation with funds donated by a private party.
  • 6,950 postcard ballots are mailed to TWHBEA members.
  • TWHBEA members rally to vote in sound horse supporters to the Board of Directors.


  • TWHBEA President Loyd Black abruptly resigns.
  • HR 1518 Poll votes are counted.  26% of the members responded.  63% of TWHBEA members who responded voted YES for passage of HR 1518/S1406 PAST Act; 37% voted NO.
  • Board of Directors votes are tallied.  Many sound horse directors are voted in, but not enough to vote for a sound Executive Committee and Officers.


  • University of Tennessee Homecoming game features flat shod natural gaited Tennessee Walking Horse.  Caroline Emery rides Amazing Grace, Cat Dye, Trainer, Winchester, Tennessee.
  • Full color ad announcing the results of the poll runs in Sunday edition of The Tennessean, paid for by Concerned Citizens Against Horse Soring.
  • Congressional Hearing before House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee concerning the PAST Act.  Invited witnesses testify before the Congressional panel with supporters and opposers in attendance.
  • The Tennessean Newspaper criticizes Tennessee U. S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and the Congressional delegation (except Rep. Steve Cohen) for remaining silent on the PAST Act.
  • Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) hires Marty Irby as Agriculture Legislative Aide.
  • Celebration SHOW HIO resigns from being an HIO.


  • Blount County, Tennessee Grand Jury indicts Larry Joe Wheelon and three alleged co-conspirators on 19 counts aggravated animal cruelty charges. All are afforded the presumption of innocence.
  • California TWHBEA members represented by attorneys Fran Cole and Patricia Kryder, King & Ballow, petition TWHBEA under Tennessee law for removal of Christy Lantis as California Director.
  • TWHBEA  Executive Committee dismisses all matters regarding Pat Stout.
  • Nominating Committee doesn’t even consider a sound horse panel for the Executive Committee and Officers.  Steve Smith is voted in as President after lying that he has never received an HPA violation ticket.
  • Discussion regarding HR 1518/S1406 Poll dominates TWHBEA members meeting.  Everett “Butch” Allen makes a motion for the Enforcement Committee to revisit the HR 1518 Poll matter.
  • U. S. Senator John Thune (R-SD) co-sponsors S.1406.  Thune is the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to which S. 1406 has been referred. He is Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and number three man in the Senate Republican leadership.
  • Clay Harlin publicly provides his experiences facing the reality of soring and his vision for the Tennessee Walking Horse breed.
  • Trainer Carl Bledsoe publicly tells the truths of soring.
  • John C. Haffner, DVM, Horse Science Faculty at MTSU publicly provides a hands on narrative of Big Lick soring culture.
  • Responding to Texas Director Allen’s Motion, Pat Stout’s attorney, Clant M. Seay, releases the Greg Cook, CPA, Cook and Co., Detailed Breakdown, State by State and Region, along with a graphic of a color map of the United States indicating support and non-support for the PAST Act. (included below).
  • Priscilla Presley notifies Celebration that the Graceland Challenge Trophy will be rescinded over the continued soring and “inhumane treatment” of horses at The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.
  • California attorney and former TWHBEA Director Fran Cole persists in representing California TWHBEA groups efforts to have removal vote on Director Christy Lantis to be done by secret written ballot.
  • TWHBEA Senior VP Walt Chism denies California TWHBEA members the right to vote on Lantis removal by secret written ballot and engages in internet discussion with Directors regarding TWHBEA’s legal position.
  • TWHBEA President Steve Smith responds to “internet Chatter” and writes a letter to TWHBEA directors.  He lectures them on being involved in “squabble” that is wasting TWHBEA resources, and promises to “promote our breed to new heights”.

Then today, Eric Gray, a former TWH farrier, came out with a letter about pressure shoeing and how it works.  Click here to read it.  From his letter:

First a little history: when you pulled shoes back in the mid 90s, back before the machines, it wasn’t uncommon to find a half of a halter ring sitting behind the white line and in front of the frog of a horse that had been trimmed with a shaved down, flat sole.  I’ve personally found all sorts of things on big lick horses between the top of the nail pad and the bottom of the hoof, things like strings of quarters glued together, heel springs with bouncy balls melted on to the area of the frog, nail pads that were ground down at the edges but domed at the center and hammer shims of metal including steel.  Flat shod horses weren’t immune to the problem, either. Tall beads of weld around the inside toe area of the surface of the foot caused painful sole pressure and there were other tricks as well.

Melted?  MELTED???  I am just shaking my head at that.  I know I shouldn’t be, but I am constantly shocked at the lengths people will go to to torture animals.

But what’s most shocking is this:

I have seen horses left standing in crossties overnight, days before a show to keep them from lying down and escaping the pressure in their feet.  I once arrived at a barn in the early morning to find a horse dead, still hanging from the crossties. The autopsy revealed stress colic due to unexplainable circumstances.

I used to keep a list of horses that were listed in the Voice magazines that had died due to colic.  They weren’t exactly old horses, either.  It just seemed suspicious to me since it seemed several horses died each month from colic.  What are the people in Tennessee doing that these horses keep dying of colic?  I wish I had kept that list.

Some huge news from Graceland also hit the computer screen.  Priscilla Presley, Elvis Presley’s wife, came out and will be taking back the trophy she and Elvis donated to the Celebration.

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