Horse trainer Joe Cotten has been suspended and fined for alleged actions at the Liberty Lions Club horse show earlier this month, according to a press release issued Saturday by the SHOW Horse Industry Organization.
Cotten's suspension, effective immediately, will last for 7 ½ years -- until Dec. 21, 2019 -- said SHOW President Dr. Stephen L. Mullins. He has also been fined $5,000.
"This is one of the longest suspensions ever issued to a Tennessee Walking Horse trainer, even longer than what is required by the federal government," said Mullins. "We take these violations seriously, and we are relieved to put this very troubling incident behind us."
Cotten allegedly knowingly filed false entry information while on suspension from one HIO and on probation with another, the release said.
In 2010, Cotten was issued a 6-month suspension, 2-year probation and a $2,500 fine for threatening a judge. The probation was from July 26, 2010 until July 26, 2012. Cotten also violated a suspension from the PRIDE HIO for a post-show scar rule violation, the release said. His PRIDE suspension ran from June 11-24.
Cotten hired Marvin North, a full time employee of 5-Way Farms, to take his horses through inspection and put them in the ring at this year's Liberty show, SHOW said. Cotten used North's trainer's license number and told North that he would pay any fines the horses received, the group said. This is the same violation which caused the indictment of Jackie McConnell and three of his employees, according to SHOW.
Cotten entered five horses and falsified all of the entries, which is a violation of the Horse Protection Act, was verbally abusive to SHOW officials and sent a vulgar text message to Dr. Mullins later in the show, the group said.
SHOW also suspended North for one year, fined him $1,000 and placed him on 4-year probation, according to the report.