The ringleader of a local spotted saddle horse soring conspiracy received a sentence of one year and one day in jail from a federal judge Monday, and must educate the public about the problem.
Barney Davis, 38, who has been in custody since July of last year, heard his punishment from U.S. District Judge Harry S. Mattice. Davis must also pay a $4,000 fine, and will then serve three years supervised release.
But Davis has also been ordered to either write an article or cooperate in the production of an educational video describing horse soring methods and their effects on the horses, how widespread the practice is in the industry, and demonstrating how inspectors can better detect sored horses.
"Soring" is the practice where items like bolts are screwed against the soles of a horse's hoofs or chemicals are applied to produce pain and sensitivity in an effort to enhance its gait. The altered gait, or "big lick," is valued at horse competitions.
During his sentencing in Chattanooga, Davis "stressed the pervasiveness of soring in the gaited horse industry and testified that horses 'have got to be sored to 'walk', referring to the exaggerated gait displayed in the show ring," according to a press release from the Justice Department.
His two co-defendants, Christen Altman, 26 and Jeffery Bradford, 33, were sentenced by Mattice to one year's probation and a $1,000 fine and both have also been ordered to write similar article about horse soring.
Davis had faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine and Altman and Bradford had each faced a term of up to one year in prison and a $3,000 fine.
Last month, Paul Blackburn, 36, of Shelbyville received a year of probation and a $1,000 fine for conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act and substantive violations of the act.
He was also ordered to write an article describing horse soring methods.
The indictment 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 soring took place in Lewisburg at Hidden Creek Stables, also known as Monopoly Farm, which was run by Davis, and according to documents released in the case last year, various ways were used to injure the horses in order to get the enhanced gait.
At his sentencing Monday, Davis described mechanical devices and chemical irritants used to sore the horses and showed examples of chains, bolts, blocks, and eight-pound tungsten shoes used to cause a gaited horse to adopt an exaggerated gait for the show ring.
"The crimes committed by these individuals are examples of wide-spread problems in the equine industry that give unfair and illegal advantage to some competitors over others, in addition to causing extreme pain to the animals" U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said. "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 a symbol of our state."