From the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle
“The video showed the horses, in obvious pain, having trouble standing and being whipped until they did stand,”
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — One of four men who pleaded guilty to soring Tennessee walking horses will not face more jail time.
According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/MhiyXN ), John Mayes was sentenced Monday to the time he has already served and ordered to write an article about horse soring. Soring is a banned practice of using chemicals and chains to train horses to perform high-stepping gaits for shows and competitions.
U.S. District Court Judge Sandy Mattice included the writing of the article as a community service requirement of Mayes’ one-year supervised release. The court said the article must include how widespread soring is, who it is done for and how it affects horses.
Horse trainer Jackie McConnell, Jeff Dockery and Joseph Abernathy were indicted along with Mayes and charged with violating the federal Horse Protection Act. The 52-count indictment was returned Feb. 29 by a federal grand jury in Chattanooga.
Mayes pleaded to a lesser charge.
The charges followed wide distribution of an undercover video shot by an agent of the Humane Society of the United States, who got a job at McConnell’s Whitter Stables in Collierville.
The recordings show McConnell, Mays and others applying mustard oil and similar caustic ointments to the pasterns and hoofs of walking horses from March to May 2011. The video was posted on the humane group’s website and aired on television.
“The video showed the horses, in obvious pain, having trouble standing and being whipped until they did stand,” according to the plea agreement entered in court documents.
Keith Dane, the director of equine protection for HSUS, earlier said that while horse shows offer cash prizes, more significant money comes from breeding and horse sales for walking horses that are show champions. Those that exhibit the “big lick” gait are highly valued.
McConnell, Dockery and Abernathy were scheduled for sentencing Sept. 10.
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