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.