A Tennessee Walking Horse trainer who is no stranger to allegations of abuse has received an unprecedented suspension. It was announced yesterday that Joe Cotton has been suspended by the SHOW Horse Industry Organization for seven years and fined $5,000.
Cotton who operates Joe Cotton Stables allegedly falsified entries for five horses – a violation of the Horse Protection Act. He is also accused of being verbally abusive to show officials at the Liberty Lions Club Show which took place last weekend. Cotton is a 2006 inductee into the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration Hall of Fame and was already on probation for past violations.
This suspension comes a month after an undercover video exposed the practice of soring to the nation. The video led to gaited horse trainer Jackie McConnell and three of his associates pleading guilty to conspiring to violate the HPA. The men have not been sentenced.
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. The altered gait, which is considered abuse by most horse enthusiasts, is seen as desirable for some that compete in gaited breed horse shows.