Experts, others react to Tenn. soring horse investigation - WKRN News 2

Experts, others react to Tenn. soring horse investigation

Posted: Updated: May 17, 2012 12:39 PM
Dr. Stephen Lark Mullins Dr. Stephen Lark Mullins

Horse experts are reacting after journalist Brian Ross confronted a trainer accused of soring Tennessee Walking Horses on ABC's "Nightline."

ABC News showed undercover video of horses being beaten and shocked with cattle prods.

The practice known as soring is supposed to help develop the Walking Horses' famed high-stepping gait.

Soring is illegal, and now the man confronted in the video, Jackie McConnell, and three others are awaiting a federal trial in Chattanooga.  

The indictment alleges a string of incidents dating back to 2006.

The video and ABC's story has the Walking Horse industry talking.

When reacting to the video, inspector Dr. Stephen Lark Mullins told Nashville's News 2, "It was absolutely disgusting, it was disturbing to me. What I want people to realize though is that that's one individual trainer."

He explained, "That's disappointing to me that a large sponsor would pull out off of the video of one trainer that is like a NASCAR sponsor pulling out because one NASCAR member or one pit crew member was guilty of doing something."

The discussion attracted numerous comments on Nashville's News 2's Facebook page.

Julie Smith stated, "I personally know people in this industry and they do not hurt their animals. I think it's sad that we label everyone just because of some people. Some does not mean all."

As a result of the investigation, Pepsi, one of the sponsors of the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration, has pulled out of the event.

McConnell, 60, was named in a 52-count indictment in March, along with 54-year-old Jeff Dockery, 50-year-old John Mays and 30-year-old Joseph Abernathy.

Penalties for violating the Horse Protection Act carry a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to three years in prison.

The video of the alleged stewarding will be seen publicly for the first time Wednesday night on the ABC News program "Nightline."

Read more at  Click here to watch the video.

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