Three men accused of soring horses, including Tennessee Walking Horse trainer Larry Wheelon, entered not guilty pleas to charges of aggravated cruelty to livestock in Blount County Circuit Court.
Wheelon and his employees Brandon Lunsford and Randall Gunter are facing 12 counts of aggravated cruelty to livestock, 3 counts of cruelty to animals, and a single count of conspiracy. Lunsford pleaded not guilty to the charges. Gunter appeared without an attorney and asked the court for representation. He did not enter a plea.
The remaining defendant, Blake Primm, who is Wheelon’s farrier, pleaded not guilty to one count of aggravated cruelty to livestock and one count of conspiracy.
The state alleges Wheelon, Gunter, and Lunsford:
“Did purchase, mix, and/or apply acid or other caustic substance(s) or chemical(s) to any exposed area of walking horses in a depraved and sadistic manner, without justifiable or lawful purpose, such that the walking horses suffered serious bodily injury; and
Did purchase, mix, and/or apply compounds, including blistering compounds, to inflict burns, cuts, lacerations, or other injuries or pain, by any method, to the legs or hooves of walking horses, in order to make the walking horses sore for any purpose including, but not limited to, competition in horse shows and similar events.”
The charges stem from an April raid at Larry Wheelon Stables. Authorities said they discovered horses visibly in pain and several barely able to stand.
The men are scheduled for their next hearing on February 10.