Tennessee Horse Trainer Charged in Soring Case

Trainer Larry Wheelon is free on bond after being arrested for allegedly soring 19 horses at his farm.

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Tennessee Walking Horse trainer Larry Wheelon is free on bond after being arrested for allegedly soring 19 horses at his Maryville, Tenn., farm. Soring is causing 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 the practice, which is also unlawful under Tennessee animal cruelty statutes.

Gino Bachman, president and cruelty investigator for the Blount County Society for the Prevention to Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said that earlier this month, a visitor to Wheelon Stables complained about the condition of the horses there. On April 18, acting on a warrant, investigators from the USDA, along with Blount County SPCA and Blount County Sheriff’s Department personnel, examined the barn and the horses inside. During that investigation USDA authorities palpated the horses’ feet and videotaped the procedure, Bachman said. All the examined horses were apparently sore, Bachman said.

“(The horses) were so sore that they would just shake when you touched them,” Bachman said. “Investigators couldn’t finish examining one horse because it was so sore, and one horse laid down in its stall and just moaned.”

USDA authorities subsequently placed the barn under quarantine, Bachman said

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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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