Crimetracker: Maryville horse trainer indicted

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- A Blount County walking horse trainer was indicted on animal cruelty charges Monday.

Larry Wheelon, 68, faced similar charges in connection to a soring investigation earlier this year. But those charges were dismissed after a mix up in court in November.

"I hate that my client has to go through this again," said Wheelon's Attorney Robert White. "These horses were well cared for, well treated and my client has devoted his entire adult life to training horses and would never abuse a horse."

But that's not what authorities reportedly found during a search warrant at his Blount County farm in April.

According to authorities, Wheelon and two other of his employees applied irritating chemicals to the horses hooves to encourage a high step that show judges look for.

White denied those claims telling Local 8 News it's all part of an agenda.

"They are not proponents of the Walking Horse Industry. I believe it's their goal to eliminate it. So, unfortunately, they've chosen Mr. Wheelon to get closer to that goal," White said.

But Kellie Bachman with the Blount County SPCA says that's not at all the case.

"I have no problem with Tennessee walking horses in Tennessee Walking Horse Shows, but there's no reason for these animals to be tortured, chemically, mechanically, or however," she said.

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