Wheelon, Three Others Plead Not Guilty to Charges

The Tennessee Walking Horse trainer pleaded not guilty to cruelty charges for allegedly soring horses.
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Tennessee Walking Horse trainer Larry Wheelon and three others have pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges for allegedly soring horses in Blount County, Tenn.

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.

Earlier this year, a visitor to Wheelon Stables complained about the condition of the horses there. On April 18, acting on a warrant, investigators from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), along with Blount County Society for the Prevention to Cruelty to Animals and Blount County Sheriff’s Department personnel, examined the barn and the horses inside. Authorities determined that the examined animals were apparently sore; the allegedly sore horses were removed to an undisclosed location for rehabilitative treatment.

Authorities later arrested Wheelon and charged him with felony animal cruelty. They later arrested Randall Stacy Gunter of Louisville, Tenn., and Brandon Lunsford of Walland, Tenn., for allegedly working with allegedly sore horses at Wheelon’s barn. Both were subsequently charged with animal cruelty. All pleaded not guilty

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Written by:

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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