Return of horses seized in Larry Wheelon stable raid delayed by dispute


The handler for Horse Haven of Tennessee leads a confiscated horse from Larry Wheelon Stables during an April 25 raid on the stable. Photo by Tom Sherlin, the Daily Times.
The handler for Horse Haven of Tennessee leads a confiscated horse from Larry Wheelon Stables during an April 25 raid on the stable.

Iva Butler, reporting for The Daily Times reports:

A judge ordered 19 Tennessee Walking Horses seized April 25 at Larry Wheelon Stables to be returned to their owners at Wheelon’s business, 2743 Tuckaleechee Pike, Maryville.

But since Wheelon no longer operates out of that barn, the question is where they can legally be returned. The owner of the barn “assured me in no uncertain terms that neither Wheelon or anyone else (associated with the horses) would be allowed on the property,” said Kellie Bachman, animal cruelty investigator for Blount County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA). “On June 10 she evicted him (Wheelon) and he is not to come on her property.”

BCSPCA confiscated the horses, and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has been footing the bill for their care. HSUS officials are the only ones privy to the location.

They were first taken to a barn in Crossville, but owners learned of their whereabouts and the animals were moved to another secret location.

BCSPCA has the legal power to confiscate such animals and Bachman is the custodian of the horses.

Wheelon and Joe Heffington, an attorney from Shelbyville representing the owners, are calling Bachman demanding their return.

Bachman said Wheelon and Heffington have been threatening her and the owner of the barn with tactics that are “underhanded and not ethical.”

“Heffington threatened to charge me with contempt of court,” Bachman said. “This attorney needs to be talking to the HSUS. All I can do is release custody. I don’t know where these horses are.”

Bachman said the HSUS has tractor-trailers that are climate-controlled and have handlers to transport the horses, instead of relying on small horse trailers.

She told Heffington there was no place for the tractor-trailers to turn around, even if they were allowed on the property,

His response was “have the sheriff’s department shut down Tuckaleechee Pike and unload the horses in the roadway,” Bachman said, a solution she did not find viable. Read full report >>

6 thoughts on “Return of horses seized in Larry Wheelon stable raid delayed by dispute”

  1. if undercover investigations can get drug dealers, theft rings, prostitution, it should be used in animal abuse cases invitations and welcome bring your cameras for pictures signs are in such short supply


  2. Its highly likely that the owners knew full well what this poor excuse for a human was doing to “their” horses. I applaud the owner of the facility for kicking them out and refusing to allow them back onto the property. In my opinion, the horses that had evidence of soring should have been confiscated permanently and sold privately or moved out of state and re-homed. There should be NO opportunity for further pain and suffering for these animals.


  3. Hopefully the owners won’t come forward, not sure THAT would be in their best interest, knowing this man sored horses, having so many violations, they ALL had to have known, SO LEAVE them where they are…. Legally send them back, what a joke that is………………


  4. The horses are still being screwed! First by the abusive trainer and now by the system. Why in the name of God can they not be allowed to live a peaceful, pain-free life in the hands of someone who will love and care for them?


  5. We have laws in this country. However, it is horrific that these horses are being returned to a known and proven horse abuser that has intentionally inflicted pain. There is no doubt in my mind that he will return to his old ways. The trial should never been held locally as the judges there could be biased since the practice of horse soring is prevalent and accepted in many parts of Tennessee. I hope they pursue this case in a higher court, I hope that horse lovers in the state continue to pursue and prosecute this abusive practice.


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