Former Hall of Fame Tennessee Walking Horse trainer Jackie McConnell will pay $75,000 in fines and serve three years of probation for conspiring to violate the Horse Protection Act (HPA). The Act forbids soring, the deliberate injury to horses’ feet and legs to achieve an exaggerated, high-stepping gait.

In February, a federal grand jury in Tennessee handed down a 52-count indictment accusing McConnell and three other individuals of conspiring to violate the HPA. In May, McConnell pleaded guilty to one conspiracy count under a plea agreement. Under terms of the plea deal McConnell faced probation and fines. On Sept. 6, U.S. Atty. Steven Neff filed a sentencing memorandum asking U. S. District Court Judge Harry S. Mattice to impose the maximum probation term of five years and a "significant fine" on McConnell. The memorandum also asked that McConnell be barred from having any contact with horses including training, exhibiting, transporting or sale during the entire probation period.

Sharry Dedman-Beard, public information officer for the U.S State’s Attorney’s Office, Eastern Tennessee District said that on Sept. 18 Mattice accepted the plea agreement and sentenced McConnell to pay a $75,000 fine, to serve three years probation, and to perform 300 hours of public service to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. McConnell was also ordered to write and publish an article on horse soring practices including how the practice affects horses and how widely it is practiced in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, Dedman-Beard said.

McConnell’s attorney Tom Greenholtz praised Mattice’s decisions in the case.

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