A Blount County, Tn., grand jury has indicted four people suspected of animal cruelty by “soring” Tennessee walking horses by applying acid or other caustic substances to force them to perform the high-stepping “Big Lick” gait.
The grand jury indicted Maryville horse trainer Larry Joe Wheelon, Randall Stacy Gunter of Louisville, Tn., Brandon Lunsford of Walland, Tn.
, and farrier Blake Tanner Primm of Sevierville, Tn., on 17 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The Humane Society of the United States, said: “Anyone complicit in the depraved practice of soring should be held accountable - including owners who may have knowingly put their horses in the hands of abusers. We are grateful for the persistence of the authorities in Blount County on this case, and we encourage them to continue aggressively investigating anyone who participated in these cruel and illegal practices.”
The arrest warrants allege that Gunter and Lunsford worked with horses who had suffered serious bodily injuries, were discovered to have had chemicals and other foreign substances applied to their legs, and responded in pain when their legs were palpated by veterinarians.
Wheelon, Gunter and Lunsford were arrested in April on felony animal cruelty charges stemming from suspicions of soring. The HSUS, Blount County SPCA and Horse Haven of Tennessee assisted authorities with the rescue of 19 horses from the training barn used by Wheelon.