The gaited horse trainer seen by the world earlier this year in an undercover video soring horses was sentenced to three years probation today. The Honarable Harry Mattice also ordered Jackie McConnell to pay a $75,000 fine, report any ownership of horses, and perform 300 hours of community service to the US Department of Agriculture. He must also publish an article on the practice of soring horses, including the methods.
He pleaded guilty in May relating to conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act. The plea deal kept him out of prison.
“As presently constituted, the defendant’s acts of soring the horses are not themselves federal crimes. They are misdemeanors under state animal cruelty laws. The defendant committed federal misdemeanor offenses when he conspired to transport the sored horses and enter them into nationwide competitions. He committed federal felony offenses when he instructed others to falsify horses’ entry paperwork at the shows to indicate that someone other than the defendant was the actual trainer of a horse. He did this to shield himself from scrutiny as a result of having been disqualified from training and entering horses into competition by administrative sanctions of the USDA,” said U.S. Attorney William C. Killian.
His horse trailer, which was used to transport sored horses to horse shows, was confiscated as part of his deal.
McConnell admitted to conspiring with others to violate the Horse Protection Act. He continued training horses by soring, transporting, entering, and showing them while on suspension. His training methods included soring the horses with painful caustic chemicals to get the high stepping action. At the shows, he submitted false entry forms and took steps to mask the horses’ pain.
Court documents state “he has obtained his wealth through decades of criminal activity. Even when civil sanctions were imposed, he ignored them and continued to profit from his illegal activities.”
McConnell apologized in court to his family and supporters.
His associates, Joseph Abernathy and Jeff Dockery, were also sentenced. Both received one year probation and must also write articles regarding soring.
“We will continue to investigate and prosecute cases involving violations of the Horse Protection Act as we do in other areas of federal law. The impact in these cases has been far beyond any level that we might have imagined,” added U.S. Attorney Killian.
The men are scheduled to be back in court later this month to face 31 counts of animal cruelty.