Famed TN horse trainer pleads guilty to animal cruelty - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Famed TN horse trainer pleads guilty to animal cruelty

(File photo) (File photo)

(WMC-TV) - It will be at least 20 years before legendary Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell can own or interact with horses again. This comes after a plea agreement was reached in court.

McConnell's case dates back to March 2011 when a Fayette County grand jury indicted him on animal cruelty charges. Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to 12 of the 22 counts of animal cruelty.

"I have no comment. I'm just glad its over," McConnell said as he walked out of court.

He and two co-defendants, Jeff Dockery and John Mays, accepted plea agreements in court. McConnell faces a $25,000 fine and five years probation.

Jeff Dockery pleaded guilty to three counts of animal cruelty, while Mays pleaded guilty to four.

Mays, who worked for McConnell, claims he was just doing what McConnell told him to do.

"I just, I ain't gonna do it no more. It was just a mistake. That's all I can say about it," Mays said.

The three are accused of "soring" the horses. Soring is the act of applying chemicals to the horse's hooves in order to make them step higher in order to perform better during shows.

"He was doing this in his capacity as a horse trainer to win blue ribbons in horse shows," said District Attorney Mike Dunavant. "He was abusing animals for financial gain."

The horses seized from McConnell's Fayette County farm when the investigation started are now the property of the state.

The district attorney would not tell Action News 5 exactly where those seven horses are being housed, but he did confirm they are being properly cared for.

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