Horse sorers drop lawsuit against Blount County animal welfare group

Image from 2015 HSUS Horse Soring Investigation.
Image from 2015 HSUS Horse Soring Investigation.

BLOUNT COUNTY, TENNESSEE (Horse Soring) — You can’t make this stuff up. Who could believe it?

The Daily Times reports:

Caslon Quote Left Black Several horse owners suing a nonprofit Blount County animal welfare group over the seizure of their horses from Larry Wheelon Stables in 2013 have decided to drop their lawsuit.

Maryville attorney Rob White filed the $2.1 million lawsuit against the Blount County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA) on April 25, 2014 — exactly a year after the organization seized 19 horses from a Maryville barn as part of an investigation into allegations of illegal soring practices.

The horses were returned to their owners in late 2013 after a Blount County judge threw out the original case against Wheelon and several stable workers. They were later indicted by a Blount County grand jury, but the cases were dismissed yet again.

Larry Joe Wheelon. Photo: The Daily Times.
Larry Joe Wheelon. Photo: The Daily Times.

One was thrown out due to insufficient evidence, one because the defendant died in a car crash and the two remaining cases — including the case against Wheelon — were tossed by a Blount County judge who found constitutional rights violations in the investigation.

White said his clients moved to dismiss the BCSPCA lawsuit without prejudice, meaning they have the option to refile the litigation within a year’s time.

“We’re basically wanting to back off right now and assess where we’re at and decide what action we want to take, if any,” White told The Daily Times on Wednesday.

One of the seven horse owners, Kenneth Smith, dropped his case against the BCSPCA in December. White filed a notice of voluntary dismissal July 6 on behalf of the six remaining plaintiffs, Rebecca and William Andrews, Rodney Koger, Bobbie Jo Koger, Dwight Brooks and Joe Barnes.

Wheelon and Rodney Koger were arrested earlier this year in Fentress County on numerous animal cruelty charges. The two were indicted by a Fentress County grand jury in June on 26 counts each of animal cruelty.

Read more »

This is horse soring.

Related Reading

Go here for more on Larry Wheelon »

Horse Soring

Soring is the use of chemicals, pressure or devices to cause pain to the front feet and legs of horses when they touch the ground. This results in the horses picking up their front feet higher and faster than they would do naturally. It is an abusive and prohibited practice, illegal in the U.S. under the Horse Protection Act of 1970 (HPA). It is closely associated with a unique high-stepping action of the front legs called “big lick” movement in show ring Tennessee Walking Horses.

Under normal circumstances, “big lick” action is normally created by horseshoes that have added pads and weight (sometimes called “stacks”), usually combined with additional weighted chains or rollers placed around the pasterns to create dramatic, high-stepping flashy action of the horse’s front legs, desired in the horse show ring.

Both criminal and civil penalties can be assessed against individuals who engage in soring.

To recess or not to recess; to call or not to call

US Capitol Dome and Flag.
US Capitol Dome and Flag. Click to donate to The Horse Fund. Thank you.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — August is typically a time when Congress adjourns for the month and lawmakers return to their constituencies — or in other words, go home.

This is not a typical Congress and August it seems will not be a typical month. Senators are probably the least likely to get out of town even though they seem hard to find except for Sen. Mitch McConnell who is probably afraid to go home.

It may not seem like a good to call. Anytime is a good time!

Offices continue to be staffed regardless of our lawmakers’ whereabouts, so please continue to call. If you cannot connect with anyone at your lawmakers’ D.C. offices, then please call them at their local office nearest you.

Look up your two U.S. Senators here »

Look up your U.S. Representatives here (need your zip +4 code) »

Please continue calling the U.S. House to end horse slaughter »

Join the Horse on the Hill™ Gang »

In the meantime, D.C. appears to be melting down quicker than the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.  And not from the heat outside.

The Washington Post reports:

Talks between the White House and the Senate’s top Republican and Democrat broke up Tuesday with no progress on raising the country’s debt ceiling, an impasse that threatens a financial crisis if left unresolved.

The Senate and House have 12 joint working days before Sept. 29, when the Treasury Department says it would no longer be able to pay all of the government’s bills unless Congress acts. A default would likely set off a major disruption to the world financial system, with a stock market crash and surging interest rates that could send the economy into a recession.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has urged Congress for months to raise the debt limit, but the White House has lacked a unified message and run into resistance on Capitol Hill, where Democrats and Republicans are at odds on key tax and spending issues.

Diversionary Tactic?

This is possibly a diversionary tactic so we worry while certain among them go about their dirty work unnoticed.

Stay Focused

Do not let this allow you to take your eye off the ball. Keep the pressure on legislators. Don’t let them get away with a darn thing.

Calling all Americans to call their lawmakers in Washington to take a strong stand on behalf of American horses. Photographer unknown.
Calling all Americans to call their lawmakers in Washington to take a strong stand on behalf of American horses. Photographer unknown.

Online Contact

We are not unsympathetic and realize there are some of you who do not feel comfortable making phone calls.

This is a good time to use your lawmakers online contact form. Use the “Look up …” links above to find them. Tip: Write up what you want to say. Review it until you are comfortable. Copy and paste!

Our Legislative Wish List

Here are a few items on our Legislative Wish List for horses. We feel they are all reasonable and doable. What do you want? Add yours in comments.

  1. We want horse slaughter banned.
  2. We want the export of horses for slaughter banned.
  3. We want federally protected wild horses and burros left on public lands to live out their lives at liberty, unharassed by the federal government, as the original law intended.
  4. We want a humane plan developed and implemented to relocate wild horses and burros currently stockpiled  by the federal government and its contractors back to their original lands, or lands similar to the ones they were taken from.
  5. We want our wild horses and burros made safe from any form of human use or interference.
  6. We want the Horse Protection Act strengthened so there is not a single loophole wherein serial animal abusers can get away with the obnoxious and grossly cruel practice of horse soring.
  7. We want a federally appointed Commissioner of Horse Racing to govern what has become a massively abusive and murderous industry rife with drugging and cheating who is also empowered to work with federal authorities to send its culprits to jail for race fixing among other egregious crimes.

What would you like to see? Join us in comments.

Take Action in Your State

Action at the State level concerning slaughter and live export for slaughter is also critical in case we have any sort of failure at the Federal level.

Learn how here »

Thank you everyone. You are massively important to the success of these campaigns and we appreciate your efforts.

Take action against Big Lick Animal Cruelty

The 75th Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee on August 29, 2013.

HORSE SORING — Calling all advocates against horse soring. Please help sored horses by joining a protest, signing a Petition against it and contacting federal legislators to endorse the PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act which will close the loopholes in the current law exploited by “Big Lickers”.

What is Horse Soring?

Horse soring is a painful practice used to accentuate a horse’s gait in competitions for big prizes. This is accomplished by irritating the feet and forelegs through mechanical irritants or the injection or application of chemicals.

• Chemical Soring

Chemical soring involves using agents such as mustard oil, diesel fuel, kerosene, salicylic acid, crotonal or croton oil, collodion, and others, on the pasterns, bulbs of heel, or coronary band of the horses.

The resultant burning or blistering causes the horse to snatch up his front legs, accentuating his gait.

These chemicals are harmful, toxic and sometimes carcinogenic. Trainers must use a brush and wear gloves when applying them. The area may then be wrapped in plastic while the chemicals are absorbed.

Image from 2015 HSUS Horse Soring Investigation.
Image from 2015 HSUS Horse Soring Investigation.

• Mechanical Soring

Mechanical soring can be just as painful chemical soring. Stacks up to 5″ high and filled with a variety of substances for added weight, are attached to the front hooves, causing the horse to stand perpetually in an elevated, unnatural position. This type of shoeing causes chronic, constant pain.

Known as “action devices,” chains worn around the pasterns can range from the mildly annoying to the extremely painful. Alone, the six-ounce chains accepted in the show ring may not harm the horse, but horses sored with heavy chains or chemicals prior to the show date can suffer intense pain in the ring as the lighter chains repeatedly bang against the sore area.

Tennessee Walking Horse with stacks and chains, part and parcel of Big Lick animal cruelty.
Tennessee Walking Horse with stacks and chains, part and parcel of Big Lick animal cruelty. Photographer unknown.
Horse soring radiograph. USDA image.
Horse soring x-ray. Some 49 nails were used to hold the pads together on this Tennessee Walking Horse. USDA image.

New Methods

The above are the most common examples. However, over the years more types of soring designed to be harder to detect have been invented. So the treachery and cruelty surrounding these beautiful and gentle animals continues and all to win big prizes in brutal and ugly competitions.

Horse Soring in Action


If you are willing to protest horse soring at an upcoming event, please text Clant Seay at 662-380-3367 for further information such as locations and meet up times. Contact him right away. There may be one near you soon. Bring your friends. T-shirts for everyone!

Petition and Support the PAST Act

• Go here to sign the Petition »

• Go here to learn how you can support the PAST Act, H.R. 1847 »

The Big Lick performed at the 75th Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee on August 29, 2013. HSUS image.

When it comes to horses and lawmakers you gotta have heart

MONDAY ROUND UP — “You gotta have heart. All you really need is heart”, says the famous song from one of America’s classical musicals, “Damn Yankees”.

It takes a lot of heart to continue fighting against the monstrous cruelties committed against horses. It takes a strong heart to deal with the roller coaster ride that is horse protection work.

You have that heart or you wouldn’t be here. Never doubt for a moment how special you are.

Omnibus Spending Bill

Sen. Mitch McConnell placed a hold on the the Omnibus spending bill when it passed from the House to the Senate. However, he quickly released it again and the Senate voted and passed it into law.

The bill contains provisions put in just before midnight the night before the House vote that are threatening to the safety and welfare of our wild horses and burros. This is being downplayed by other groups, but do not be fooled. Only they know what their motives are.

The bill contains no oversight or enforcement provisions relating to federally protected horses once they are handed over into the care of the States for one. That in of itself is nightmarish for us.

We have a story developing on how the cattle ranchers and others using federal lands are reacting to the possibility of management being transferred from the Federal government to their States. You may be very surprised at what they are saying. Stay tuned.

H.R. 113 — The SAFE Act

The bill outlawing horse slaughter for human consumption — H.R. 113 — currently has 112 co-sponsors.

View them at this link:

Please take a look and see if your U.S. Representative has supported H.R. 113. If they have, please telephone their office or go to their contact page and leave a message of thanks. This is very important. Truly. Important.

If they have not co-sponsored please telephone and ask them to.

You might say something like this:

“Hello, my name is [       ] and I am calling to ask Rep. [       ] to please co-sponsor H.R. 113. It was introduced by Rep. Vern Buchanan. This bill is very important to me because it outlaws horse slaughter. My name again is [       ] and my address is [       ]. Would you read that back to me please.”

They will likely ask you for a phone number and/or email address. This is a good sign. If you want your Representative to reply you must request this. Otherwise they are not obligated. You might add something like:

“Would you please have Rep. [       ] respond to my call by letting me know where he stands concerning the anti horse slaughter bill, H.R. 113.”

Important: They need your full address including your zip code +4 to identify you as a constituent so have that ready. Always ask the aide to read your address back to you whenever you call. Be polite! But you know that.

You can call about more than one bill of course.

Find your U.S. Representative and their contact information at »

H.R. 1847 — PAST Act (Prevent All Soring Tactics)

The PAST Act currently has 238 co-sponsors.

View them at this link:

H.R. 1847 amends the Horse Protection Act closing loopholes that will lead to an end of “Big Lick” animal cruelty.

Rinse and repeat what you did for the previous bill quoting H.R. 1847. Rep. Ted Yoho introduced this bill.

A follow-up report on what went down in Florida is on its way. Or visit for further information.

Horse Racing Integrity Act

We await the introduction of the Horse Racing Integrity Act. We will review it and see how this version differs from the previous one if any. In the meantime, the title is somewhat of a oxymoron isn’t it? Moving on.


We highly recommend you endorse and oppose bills on PopVox. Legislators and their staff use this system to work bills and see what constituents are saying — so you know they are hearing your voice. PopVox literally means “voice of the people”.

Sign up here with your email and a password.

Someone wrote and asked if we are getting a promotional fee. No ma’am we are not.

This is a terrific system. We have been with them since their launch and they are the real deal.

Take action on any bill, any time day or night. Track bills. View a map to see what constituents around the country are for and against. See what they are saying and take a public stand yourself. You don’t have to make your name public if you don’t want to. They will assign you a unique constituent number.

Go to our page to view the bills we endorse and oppose. PopVox is where we learned that the American Horse Council have publicly taken a neutral stand on the SAFE Act and endorsed the PAST Act.


We leave you with this lovely quote by Roy T. Bennett from The Light of the Heart.

“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.”

Thank you for having a strong heart for horses.

See more horses with heart markings at