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Every trainer sored horses, every trainer sored horses. I mean you have to, to get them to walk. At some point in time I know a lot of the trainers say you don’t have to do anything to this horse where at one time he has had to be sored. The horses had to be sored to walk . Flat shod, padded, it doesn’t matter. The purpose of putting the chemicals on the pastern is, I mean, it makes the horse walk deep walk, real deep behind, hurt, yeah. It hurts the horse and then you put the chain on top of the sore and that makes it all work. It makes him walk behind.
Q.Would it do any good to use chemicals if you couldn’t use the chain?
A.Uh huh, no, if you didn’t use the chain you wouldn’t have no purpose for those chemicals.
When they use the putty, I mean it puts pressure on the bottom of the foot, just like the bolts would do, if you was tightening a bolt into their foot. It puts pressure. It goes between the hoof and the nail pad. It does the same, when you nail the pad down and that putty swells. When it swells then they got pressure on their foot, on the sole of the foot. That hardens and when it hardens then it is there until they take it out and then after, when they take it out the sore in the sole of the foot is there and it will stay there for a couple of days.
Q.Do they take it out before they
A.Yeah, they will take it out before they go to a show. They are not using it at the shoe but the sore is already there in the sole of the foot.
Oh yes, there have been several horses that have been lame and even died over it.
Q.There have been horses crippled?
A.Right, and once the horses are crippled like that they won’t eat. They hurt so bad they won’t eat. They have to give them so much pain medicine that they won’t get up. They won’t get out of their stall. They won’t go to the trough and eat. You just usually end up having to put them down.
Q.So that is how they end up dying?
Q.Have you ever heard of a horse dying of colic from the pain?
A.I sure have and most of the time that is what happens to them. A lot of these horses colic over, we call it stress colic.
A.From all the pain. I’ve had plenty of feet, hooves break off in the quick, in the sole area that would bleed because of the band.
Q.Does that hurt the horse?
A.Oh yeah, it hurts them. That is probably 90% of what makes a horse go lame is the band, if that horse ever breaks a foot off in the quick nine times out of ten you are going to get some rotation in that foot when it grows back.
Q.And the horse is in pain until it heals?
A.Right, well actually if they’ve got rotation in their feet they are not ever actually healed.
Q.So they are in pain?
A.They are in pain for the rest of their life. To a point you can train a horse to walk to a point but you are not going to get the beat walk. You are not going to win if you don’t sore them.
Q.When people sore horses do they not think the horse is suffering?
A.Well, it is kind of like me, you are around it so much. You are around the soring and what goes on with it so much you don’t really think about it. You don’t really think about what it is doing to the animal. Without the soring, without some type of soring the horse, they are not going to do the big league. I have talked to several different people that they have always thought that this is the way walking horses, that just was their way of walking. That was natural to them and it is not. The only way you are going to get the soring stopped is to get the pads and the chain. That is the only way.
Q.And that is because
A.They got to have the pad and chains to do the soring. That goes on a lot. But it is kind of like the sword, I mean it happens so much we don’t really pay as much attention to it as what we should. I mean there are judges being paid, paid to tie a certain horse in a show and they will tie one horse good and then tie another horse that is probably better. They will tie it down to where they can get the horse to win if they want it to win. A lot of the ______and the inspectors are being paid to let horses through. They get paid to turn a horse down or they get paid to let the horse be shown. There are several different things that you can do to mask it. They’ve got freezing agents. They’ve got pain medicine, shots that you can give them.
Q.What kind of shots?
A.I know a lot of people use Dormosedan or there are several different pain medicines that you can use. A lot of them use a different kind of pain medicines. They will, what I used to call them, they will check them at the barn before they leave and see how long it takes the pain medicine to wear off or how long it will work and they will have it timed out to where they will have him ready to go. They will know when to give him the shot and they even got medicine that will take the pain medicine out of their system. And that is another problem that I have too. We’ve got veterinarians that sell us this medicine and this stuff to take the pain medicine out of their system that is over-checking the horses.
Q.Do the vets know?
A.They know exactly what it is used for. I have a problem with the vets. The vets will, they know what is going on and then when all the media starts, gets involved they want to deny they know what is going on. And they are the ones selling you the pain medicine to cover it up. I would say 95% of the owners know that their horses are being sored and the ones who don’t know choose not to know. I mean you know something is wrong with the horse when it walks like that. I mean, a lot of the owners can’t be that dumb to think that a horse walks like that without something done to it.
Q.So a horse wouldn’t walk like that and be able to compete unless something is done?
A.Unless it is sore. A horse will not walk on his hind legs unless he is sore. That is just common sense. A lot of the trainers, a lot of the trainers is going to argue with that because they think, what they try to say is they are natural and what they mean when they say they are more natural is because you can sore them with chemical agents rather than up under the sole of their foot. They don’t take as much. When they are saying more natural they are saying they don’t have to be sored with nothing but just chemicals. They are not man-made which all of them are man-made. The only way to win at Celebration is sore.
Q.And you have shown at the Celebration?
A.Yes I have. I’ve shown at the Celebration three, maybe four times.
Q.Were they horses that you trained?
A.Yes, I trained them myself and they were sored. I am not going to lie. They were sored.
Q.Did you have any horses that you didn’t have to sore to show?
A.No sir. All of my horses were sored.
I am Jackie McConnell and I have been a Walking Horse trainer and I am here to discuss the sore problem and what I have been convicted of has done to, how it has affected my life.
Q.Okay, Jackie, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and your experience with horses. How long have you been around horses?
A.Well I was raised around them. I was raised on the farm and we had horses all our lives, follow these horses and try to walk horses in the early 60’s.
Q.How old were you when you started?
A.I started professionally in 1970, I think, when I graduated from high school.
Q.Did your family having Walking Horses? Did you daddy train or anybody else in your family?
A.My daddy run em.
Q.Okay. So you started training Tennessee Walking Horses in about 1970. Have you ever done anything else for work?
A.That is all I have ever done.
Q.The only thing you have ever known. How successful were you in showing Walking Horses?
A.We had good success. I was a member of the Tennessee Walking Horse Hall of Fame and I have tried every year. I have had several world champions.
Q.Have you always trained padded Walking Horses?
Q.Okay. Was soring an issue when you first started training?
A.Yes it was.
Q.Was it common in the industry?
A.Yes it was.
Q.What kind of soring was used back in the old days, in the 70’s?
A.It was, you know, just taking care of the horses and stuff. It was bad back in the early days.
Q.Uh huh. How widespread was it back then?
Q.Okay. I think they passed the Horse Protection Act in 1970.
Q.So that was about the time you came into it?
Q.Did you see any changes after the act was passed?
A.Yes, and a lot more changes since we have inspections.
Q.You plead guilty to soring horses that you trained. What effect has that conviction and the State animal cruelty conviction had on you and your livelihood and your family?
A.It has embarrassed, it really has embarrassed my family. I have an eight year-old grandson and he has to go to school and it has really been bad and it has been hard on me financially. I have lost a lot of friends. It has been hard on my health.
Q.What all have you lost as a result of this conviction?
A.Oh, I have lost my financial security. I have lost my whole business. I have lost, like I said, I am banned for life from showing or training the horses. I am banned from Celebration for life. I am banned from the Hall of Fame and the biggest thing is the embarrassment it has caused my family.
Q.Yeah. They passed the State law last year in 2012 making soring worse with chemicals a felony. Do you think that is going to have any affect on the trainers out there now, being a more serious penalty, do you think it will affect and improve.
A.Yes. It has made a lot of impression.
Q.Do you think that your conviction has helped make some people straighten up?
A.I think my conviction is probably done more than anything. It has been good.
Q.What advice would you give to trainers that are still using illegal training methods like the caustic chemicals and pressure shoeing?
A.I would totally advise against it.
Q.Okay. It is just not worth getting caught.
A.Yeah, I am living proof of it. Looks what it has done to me. I love the horses.
Q.You said, you talked about the other rights you lost because of being convicted as a felon federally. What are some of those? You can’t vote. You can’t have a gun.
A.Of course I never had a gun, but couldn’t have a gun and, of course, I am on house arrest. I have lost my freedom. They took all that away from me. Me used to getting up and going every day and you get up and you can’t go. It’s a real eye opener.
Q.Jackie, as you reflect back on your conviction do you feel that sored horses with chemicals and the pressure shoeing that is going on do you feel that is wrong?
A.I don’t know anything about the pressure shoeing but I have seen horses that have had it done and it is wrong.
Q.You think they do hurt the horses?
A.Yes I do.
Q.Okay. Is there anything else that you would like to tell us or the public?
A.I would love to apologize for the embarrassment I have caused my whole family and apologize to all of the horses I have ever trained.
Hello everyone, and thank you so much for inviting USDA to come and speak to you all at the Sound Horse Conference. I want to let you guys know I come here as a representative of the Department but also I do come here as a avid horseperson as well. I usually have not told many people about me or personally or anything like that because usually we try not to do those things in government. However, I am going to do that now. So, I actually have been riding horses ever since I was five years old. I showed horses in 4-H and local shows and so forth, English, Western and a lot of horse riding up until I started college. Once I got to college I pretty much had to be dedicated to that so I ended up graduating from Michigan State in 2002 from the Veterinarian School there and after that I did end up going to Lexington, Kentucky and did a fellowship there at one of the really reputable equine hospitals as well as I went to Dubai, United Arab Emeritus and worked for the Crown Royal Prince there and worked on his horses. So I have worked on the most expensive horses in the world. So, there is a thought that you know when this position, the National Horse Protection Coordinator came open in 2007 with my credentials and so forth I would be prepared to take this position. I knew I was 30 years old at that time, too. So, I had no idea about what I was gong to get involved in. No idea. Like I said, I have been around horses ever since I was five. When I got engaged in this and saw the type of soring and abuse going on I had no idea. I have seen a lot of horses. So, a lot of people told me that I would lateral over to another position after two years. I was way over my head especially being a young age. However, I am still in. It is my seventh year as well as I was also serving in the military as ______officer at that time during these seven years in the Air National Guard so I did have other things going on, however, I have been really, really dedicated to this position and I don’t regret anything that I have done to push enforcement of the Horse Protection Act. I realize, though, in order to have this position for a long time you are going to have to have a lot of energy, a very strong backbone. You can’t let anybody get to you because, obviously, that has happened quite a bit with me. You have to remain positive and focus on the end result.
I feel like we have made a lot of progress since I have been in my position. Still, we have a lot more work to do, a lot more work to do. I feel like one of the biggest reasons why we still have a lot of work to do is because I feel that there are a lot of people who don’t understand the definition of soring. I have noticed many people will say different things and as you can see her, the Horse Protection Act, what the definition of a sore horse is to use irritating blister agent, burn/cut laceration, have a tech nail/screw, chemical agent injected by a person on a horse, any substance or device being used by a person on a horse but a big part that people don’t realize is this last part right here. A person has engaged in a practice involving a horse. So, I have heard a lot of different things since I have been in my position that people are like well this isn’t really considered violating the Horse Protection Act or the regulations or considered a sore horse. But I want you to realize that, yes, the use of Gojo, S & T Orange or chain grease is in violation of the Horse Protection Act. A horse that responds painfully after palpation to one leg that is in violation of the Horse Protection Act. A horse that doesn’t have visible scars but you can feel them, that is a violation. A horse presented for inspection that has a coffin bone rotated more than five degrees that is a violation of Horse Protection Act. Like Dr. Turner had mentioned recently, yes, the horse could be rotated because of some other condition. It could be something, but still that person presented that horse to inspection in that manner and they shouldn’t have done that but they did. So that person is involved in soring that horse. Other things, a horse that has metal applied in the performance package that is a violation. Metal applied inappropriately after it has gone through inspection like the x-ray that Dr. Turner showed earlier. A horse presented to inspection that responds positive to a hoof tester, yes, they could be responding positive to the hoof tester because they have a hoof abscess. However, that individual did present that horse to inspection in that manner and they shouldn’t have done that. A horse found with scars after showing but was not found with scars before showing, you get a lot of masking agents put on the horses pre-show. It all comes off after a post-show. A horse presented to inspection that does not freely leave appears a bad image. You brought that horse knowing that it can’t lead and it can’t go around those cones. You are an adversary . As well as, I take this from Dr. Turner’s presentation too, improper shoeing can cause soring. Just like you see right there, those wrinkles. It is already there. You know like you said, put a chain on that, boom, you have a scar. It is already started.