Horses seized in Maryville over soring allegations

Horses seized in Maryville over soring allegations

Posted: Updated: April 25, 2013 11:30 PM
One horse got loose while officials worked to seize the animals. One horse got loose while officials worked to seize the animals.
Larry Wheelon (source: Blount County Sheriff's Office) Larry Wheelon (source: Blount County Sheriff's Office)

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Anchor/Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) - Animal control officials and rescue groups seized 19 horses from a Blount County horse training facility over soring allegations.

According to the Humane Society, Larry Wheelon was arrested Thursday for animal cruelty.

Soring is the practice of using chemicals on a horse's leg to induce them to raise their legs in a high step, which gives the horses a competitive advantage at horse shows.

Wheelon was investigated by the Blount County Sheriff's Office last Thursday after they received an anonymous tip about abuse at his barn.

Authorities said during that investigation, they discovered horses visibly in pain and several barely able to stand.

The Blount County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to All Animals (SPCA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Humane Society of the U.S., Horse Haven, and the Blount County Sheriff's Office all assisted in removing the animals.

"It's just very disturbing that they would do that to these horses," Blount County SPCA President Gino Bachman said. "It's permanent. They'll have scarring. They'll have tenderness in their feet."

Wheelon sits on the ethics committee for the Tennessee Walking Horses Trainer's Association and has been cited by inspectors at least 15 times for violating the federal Horse Protection Act.

Neighbors told 6 News they saw signs of the abuse early on.

"From my house you could watch them," neighbor Robert Melton said. "You'd see the horses out here sometimes they'd stumble. It looked like they had weights or something on their feet."

Bachman said the confiscated horses are believed to be in extreme physical pain.

"They literally bite into the wood so they can relieve the pain from their feet," Bachman said.

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