SHELBYVILLE, Tenn., May 23 (UPI) -- Horse trainer Jackie McConnell was suspended for life and removed from his sport's Hall of Fame after pleading guilty to animal abuse, the Hall's director said.
McConnell, 60, a celebrated trainer of show horses, was banned from entering the grounds of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn., "for any and all events, regardless of the event's affiliation or ownership," a statement from the Celebration Board said Wednesday.
The Board also removed McConnell from its Hall of Fame, the (Nashville, Tenn.) Tennessean reported Wednesday.
The actions stem from McConnell's guilty plea in U.S. Federal Court in Chattanooga, Tenn., to one count of conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act. He was surreptitiously filmed by a Humane Society representative applying caustic chemicals to horses' hooves at his farm in Collierville, Tenn., to induce a high-stepping gait called "the big lick," a practice outlawed since 1970, although prosecutions have been rare, the newspaper said.
"This action is the strongest we can take and it clearly reflects our disgust with the actions of Mr. McConnell," said Doyle Meadows, CEO of the Celebration. His actions are not reflective of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, and we in no way want him in our show."