A federal judge in Chattanooga has sentenced a Tennessee walking horse trainer who was caught abusing horses in an undercover video to three years' probation and fined him $75,000.
The video shows Jackie McConnell and others applying caustic substances to horses' legs and hooves and beating the horses to make them stand.
The process is called soring and is used to enhance the horses' high-stepping gait.
Stable hands Jeff Dockery and Joseph Abernathy were sentenced to one year probation and ordered to write an article about soring at the hearing Tuesday.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that McConnell cried as he read a statement saying that he takes responsibility for what he did.
The three pleaded guilty in May to conspiring to violate the Horse Protection Act. He admitted substituting other names in place of his own as the trainer of horses that were sored because he was serving a five-year license suspension for previous soring. Stating that someone else trained a horse is a felony.
Since McConnell's previous case was handled as an administrative matter, he was not criminally charged and is, as a result, a first-time offender.
Defense attorneys Hugh J. Moore Jr. and Tom Greenholtz wrote in a brief that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Horse Protection Act, had already fined McConnell $150,000. They argued that, along with his federal arrest, seizure of property, indictment and conviction as a felon was sufficient punishment.
McConnell will be facing state charges in Fayette County General Sessions Court on Sept. 25.
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