OUTRAGEOUS AND EGREGIOUS

The extent that some people go to in order to gain an edge is documented regularly in the news, whether it is on Wall Street, Main Street, or at a sports venue. The following report from NBC News appeared on September 19, 2012, and is another outrageous reminder of what the “win at any price” ethic can prompt some human beings to do to a helpless animal:

“NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Former Tennessee walking horse hall of fame trainer Jackie McConnell was fined $75,000 and sentenced to three years’ probation in federal court on Tuesday for using a banned and abusive practice on show horses that involving putting caustic chemicals on their ankles.

McConnell faced 52 counts of transporting and showing abused horses and had pleaded guilty in May to a single charge of animal cruelty in an agreement with prosecutors that called for probation and a fine.

U.S. District Judge Harry Mattice Jr. accepted McConnell’s plea, imposing the fine, which could have been up to $250,000, and probation at a federal court hearing in Chattanooga on Tuesday. McConnell faced up to five years in prison if the agreement had not been accepted.

McConnell was required by the court to write a letter about the soring of horses, the pain it causes and the long-term effects, The Chattanoogan said. He was also asked to say how widespread soring is in the letter.

McConnell was banned for life from the Tennessee Walking Horse organization’s biggest event and stricken from its hall of fame along with written and photographic mentions after ABC News showed the video in May of him abusing horses.”

Soring abuse has been going on with Tennessee Walking Horses for at least 75 years and probably much longer. Thus the industry’s punitive actions against McConnell are a case of too little too late. If all the cruelty to Tennessee Walking Horses, over the years, were revealed, McConnell’s case would, sadly and egregiously, be one of many.

Whenever horses are used in competition, there will always be some participants whose actions sully the image of the entire sport. In horse racing, the vast majority of the owners and trainers put a horse’s welfare above winning. However, like the disgraced McConnell, a few rotten apples engage in practices that are repugnant and atypical, whether it is doping, starving, or otherwise mistreating a horse.

Abuses cannot be eradicated, but the perpetrators, when found out, need to be punished for their deeds, including banishment. That’s how a horse sport maintains its integrity. That’s how good people in the sport can sleep better at night.

Copyright © 2012 Horse Racing Business

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