Tennessee Walking Horse Trainer Sentenced to Probation

A federal court judge has sentenced an Alabama Tennessee Walking Horse trainer to two years probation for violating the Horse Protection Act (HPA). The HPA forbids "soring," the deliberate injury to a horses' legs to achieve a high-stepping, so-called big lick gait.

According to a written statement from Jerry E. Martin, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, inspectors at the July 2009 Woodbury Lions Club Horse Show discovered that a horse trained by Chris Zahnd was wearing a nerve cord in its mouth. A nerve cord is a device placed along a horse's gums to prevent the animal from flinching when inspectors examine sensitive areas in its legs and feet. During the same examination, inspectors determined that the horse was bilaterally (in both limbs) sore, Martin said.

At the time of the violation, Zahnd owned and operated Swingin' Gate Stables in Trinity, Ala., Martin said.

During a plea hearing Zahnd pleaded guilty to the soring violations, Martin said.

On Nov. 21 U.S. Magistrate Court Judge E. Clifton Knowles sentenced Zahnd to serve two years probation in connection with the HPA soring violations, Martin said.

Zahnd was unavailable for comment.

During the sentencing Knowles also authorized probation officers and USDA representatives to visit Zahnd's barn to monitor the welfare of the animals residing there. Zahnd will be required to supply to visiting probation and USDA personnel information about all the horses under his care, Martin said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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