Animal care advocate: Horses at raided Larry Wheelon Stables ‘in pain’
By Iva Butler | (email@example.com)
A Knoxville animal care advocate who was at the scene of a raid by federal investigators at Larry Wheelon Stables in Maryville April 18 said some of the 27 horses appeared to be in pain.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating allegations that Wheelon was using an illegal training method call “soring” to make the Tennessee Walking Horses step higher.
Several agencies, animal care advocates and a veterinarian were on hand during the nine-hour investigation at Wheelon Stables, 2743 Tuckaleechee Pike.
Representatives of Horse Haven of Tennessee, which is located in West Knoxville, were there “to do horse handling,” said Nina Margetson, executive director of Horse Haven.
She could not comment on the possibility of abuse through
soring, but did say, “I did witness some animals in pain.”
Margetson also said a vet was on hand to examine the horses and collect physical data for testing.
Another investigator on the scene said some of the horses had plastic on their feet.
Blount County Sheriff’s Office provided security during the raid.
Blount County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals representatives also helped federal agents in conducting the investigation.
The USDA agent in charge of the investigation ordered the 27 horses quarantined when Wheelon could not produce paperwork showing that the horses had tested negative for Coggins Disease (equine infectious anemia).
The horses cannot be moved until Wheelon produces paperwork from his vet showing that the horses test negative for the viral disease.
Wheelon will have to produce the negative test results for Greg Whitehead, head of the Tennessee Agricultural Crime Unit, who can lift the quarantine, Margetson said.
Wheelon’s veterinarian reportedly tested the horses a few days ago.
The quarantine does not keep Wheelon from being on the property.
A Blount County resident who has owned Tennessee Walking Horses for show explained how “soring” is used in some training.
A drop of a cocktail mixture called “mustard oil” is placed on each side of the foot and plastic is then placed over the foot of the horse. This causes the entire foot and leg to become sore.
Trainers then reportedly put chains on the feet of the horses, and in an attempt to stop the pain, the horses throw their feet out to get rid of the chains. This causes the horse to have a high stepping stride called the “Big Lick.”
Under the federal horse protection law, “soring” is prohibited.
Another product used in “soring” is a hand cleaner that can be purchased over the counter that contains kerosene. It is not as potent as mustard oil, the walking horse expert said.
Steve Williams, Wheelon’s attorney, did not call Wednesday to comment on the issue.