Trainer sentenced for horse soring violations - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Trainer sentenced for horse soring violations

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(WRCB) -- A Shelbyville, Tenn. horse trainer has been sentenced to 12 months probation and assessed a $1,000 fine by federal court after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act and substantive Horse Protection Act violations.

Paul Blackburn, 36, was also handed a more unique punishment by  U.S. District Judge Harry Mattice, who ordered him to write an article describing horse soring methods used in the gaited horse community, the effects soring has on the horses, and the scope of horse soring in the industry.

Soring is a process of intentionally causing pain to a horse's front legs and hoofs to enhance a gaited horse's gait for the show ring. It considered to be quite inhumane to the horse and is illegal in the United States.

The indictment and subsequent conviction of Blackburn was the result of a seven-month investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG) Agent Julie McMillian. "The USDA- OIG will continue to aggressively pursue violations of the Horse Protection Act in order to protect horses and competitors from illegal and unfair acts and practices," said special Agent-in-Charge, Karen Citizen-Wilcox.

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian added, "the crime committed by the individual in this conspiracy is an example of a wide-spread problem in the equine industry that gives unfair and illegal advantage to some competitors over others, in addition to causing cruelty to the animals.  This issue has our attention and we will continue to pursue violators of the Horse Protection Act to assure fairness in competition and to protect the welfare of the horses that are symbol of our state."

This case was the first of two criminal prosecutions under the Horse Protection Act violations in approximately 20 years. A similar case is being tried in Middle Tennessee.

Blackburn's codefendants Barney Davis and Christen Altman are scheduled to be sentenced on February 27th.

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