published Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Fourth horse trainer pleads guilty on violating Horse Protection Act

A fourth Tennessee Walking Horse trainer pleaded guilty this morning in Federal Court in connection with charges of violating the Horse Protection Act.

Jeff Dockery, 55, was charged along with Collierville, Tenn., horse trainer Jackie McConnell, 60; John Mays, 47; and Joseph Abernathy, 29, with conspiring to show abused horses. McConnell, Mays and Abernathy pleaded guilty last month.

Dockery, who cooperated with prosecutors, pleaded guilty to a lesser, misdemeanor count of conspiracy to show sored horses.

Soring is an illegal practice of applying mechanical and chemical damage to a horse’s feet with such items as kerosene and metal bolts. The abusive methods alter the natural high-stepping gait of the horse to achieve the coveted “big lick” step which often helps trainers win competitions.

Prosecutors said Dockery allowed McConnell to name him as the trainer of horses entered in shows while McConnell was the real trainer, but was disqualified from showing for past Horse Protection Act offenses.

For more coverage, see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.

about Pam Sohn...

Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...

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