Tennessee Horse Trainer Pleads Guilty to Soring

A spotted saddle horse trainer and two co-defendants have pleaded guilty to violations of the Horse Protection Act.

Barney Davis pleaded guilty today to two felonies including conspiracy to obstruct justice and two misdemeanors, according to Assistant US Attorney Steven Neff. Davis faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He remains behind bars.

Christen Altman and Jeffery Bradford, who worked with Davis, pleaded guilty to lesser charges of conspiring to violate the federal Horse Protection Act (HPA). Bradford faces up to a year in prison and both may have to pay a $3,000 fine.

“We hope this prosecution and others like it will deter trainers and owners who are thinking about cheating and committing fraud in order to reap monetary profits and achieve notoriety,” says Neff.

In April, a federal grand jury returned a 34-count superseding indictment against Davis, Altman, Bradford, and Paul Blackburn charging them with violations of the federal Horse Protection Act and related financial crimes.

Court documents state Davis, who ran a horse training and boarding facility called Monopoly Farm, Altman, Bradford, and Blackburn, who pleaded guilty last month, conspired to violate the HPA by soring horses, falsifying entry forms, and documents.

Soring horses is an illegal practice where items like bolts are driven into horses’ hoofs, foreign objects are attached to horses’ legs, or chemicals like mustard oil are used to produce pain and sensitivity to alter the gait. A sored horse tries to escape the pain in his front end so it will snatch its legs up quickly, and gives tremendous lift in the front, known as “big lick.” The altered gait is considered abuse by most horse enthusiasts. According to gaited horse experts, those that utilize soring can get the desired effect with training rather than abuse.

The three will be sentenced in February.