A Blount County, Tennessee, judge has dismissed the soring case against Tennessee Walking Horse trainer Larry Wheelon and two other men due to lack of evidence.
Soring is the deliberate injury to a horse’s feet and legs to achieve an exaggerated high-stepping gait. On the federal level, the Horse Protection Act forbids soring; the practice is also unlawful under Tennessee animal cruelty statutes.
In 2013, Wheelon was indicted for applying soring techniques on horses in training at his Maryville, Tennessee, training barn. Randall Stacy Gunter and Brandon Lunsford were also accused of working with sore horses at Wheelon’s facility. All three were charged with animal cruelty and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Wheelon was also charged with felony animal cruelty, but those charges were dropped after Blount County General Sessions Court Judge Robert L. Headrick ruled that a U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinary medical officer involved in the case accidentally heard testimony while sitting in the courtroom.
Later, Wheelon’s attorney Rob White petitioned the Blount County Circuit Court to suppress evidence obtained though warrants which allowed the search of Wheelon’s barn on grounds that the warrants were faulty and