SHOW Levies Penalties on TWH Trainer

Sound Horses, Honest Judging, Objective Inspections, Winning Fairly (SHOW), a horse industry organization (HIO) that manages Tennessee Walking Horse shows, including the National Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration, has suspended trainer Joe Cotten for seven and a half years and fined him $5,000 for violating the HIO's rules by allegedly knowingly filing false entry information at the Liberty Lions Club Horse Show in Shelbyville, Tenn., on June 15.

SHOW President Stephen Mullins, DVM, said that during the Liberty Lions Club show, Cotten allegedly hired Marvin North to take five horses through the inspection process and put them in the ring. Cotten allegedly used North trainer's license number on entry documents and allegedly told North that he would pay any fines the horses might receive. SHOW also suspended North for one year, fined him $1,000, and placed him on four-year probation in connection with the incident.

Neither Cotten nor North were available for comment.

Mullins said that at the time of the incident Cotten was serving a two-year probation from SHOW stemming from a 2010 incident involving a threat he made to a horse show judge, for which he was suspended for six months and fined $2,500. At the time of the Liberty Lions Club show incident, Mullins said Cotten was also serving a suspension from the HIO PRIDE for a Horse Protection Act violation. The Act forbids soring, the injury to a horse's feet and legs to achieve an exaggerated high-stepping gait. That probation period extended through June 24, 2012, he said.

Mullins said the Cotten suspension is one of the longest ever issued to a Tennessee Walking Horse trainer and that penalties issued to Cotten and North are subject to increases depending on the outcome of SHOW's Hearing Committee procedures.

"We take these violations seriously," Mullins said.

Teresa Bippen, spokesperson for the HIO Friends of Sound Horses, declined to comment on the suspensions.

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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