$10,000 Reward For Reporting a Criminal


Additional Arrests Made in Maryville, Tenn., Horse Soring Investigation

The Humane Society of the United States Applauds Local Efforts to Prosecute All Those Complicit in Abuse

Do you know anyone that treats their horse like this?

Do you know anyone that treats their horse like this?

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (June 7, 2013)—The Blount County Sheriff’s Office has served arrest warrants for two individuals suspected of violating Tennessee law against horse soring, an abusive practice involving the application of caustic chemicals and devices to the hooves and legs of Tennessee walking horses to deliberately inflict pain and force the horses to perform the artificial high-stepping ‘Big Lick’ gait for the show ring.

The sheriff’s office issued arrest warrants for Randall Stacy Gunter of Louisville, Tenn., and Brandon Lunsford of Walland, Tenn., in connection with an ongoing investigation of Maryville horse trainer Larry Joe Wheelon, who was charged in April with felony animal cruelty on suspicions of soring. Both men allegedly were involved in training horses who were seized from Wheelon’s barn by authorities on April 25. The Humane Society of the United States, along with the Blount County SPCA and Horse Haven of Tennessee, assisted authorities with the rescue of 19 horses.

The arrest warrants allege that Gunter and Lunsford worked with horses who had suffered serious bodily injuries, were discovered to have had chemicals and other foreign substances applied to their pasterns, and responded in pain when their legs were palpated by veterinarians. Additional arrests are possible, as the investigation remains on-going.

“Some of the horses were barely able to walk from the pain. Anyone who was complicit in their suffering should be held accountable—and that includes owners who may have knowingly put their horses in the hands of abusers,” said Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The HSUS. “We encourage law enforcement to continue aggressively investigating anyone who participated in these cruel and illegal practices.”

The HSUS also encourages Congress to pass the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act of 2013, H.R. 1518 strengthens the Horse Protection Act by ending industry self-policing, strengthening penalties and banning the use of certain devices associated with soring.

The HSUS offers a reward of up to $10,000 to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of a violator of the Horse Protection Act or any state law which prohibits horse soring. Anyone with information on this cruel practice should call The HSUS’ tipline at 855-NO-SORING. The HSUS will protect the identity of all callers.


Habitat for Horses is a 501.c.3 nonprofit equine protection organization supported solely by donations. As of this morning, we have 157 donkeys and horses under our care, plus one mule. Most of them are here because law enforcement removed them from their previous owner. Our ability to rehabilitate and rehome them comes from the financial support of people like you. Please support us by making a donation for the horses we all serve. Click HERE to donate


  • Daryl

    Get them, winning is so much but not the horse that is doing the winning. These people are sick in the head, need not to have an animal if they are not going to treat it right, it is a living breathing animal, that has feelings and can love and be loved. they feel pain and have not got a voice to tell any one of the abuse.

    June 9, 2013
  • Mary Anne Gardner

    This is what it will take to stop this cruel act!! Please watch out for this and soring can become a thing of the past!!

    June 9, 2013
  • Does this apply to every state? As an equine cruelty investigator in Escambia County, Florida, I have gone into some back yard barns and found horses wrapped and on pads with caustic chemicals such as “Go Jo” on the shelves. I doubt our local authorities would pursue charges unless HSUS would assist in the prosecution. (at least for the first case) This would be a first for our county if we could educate our state attorneys office on this horrible practice and it would be a huge step in preventing yet another act of cruelty that goes on behind the scenes.

    June 9, 2013
  • janwindsong

    Looks to me like an easy way to make $10,000. Being as how many are into this disgusting torture of those wonderful horses.

    June 9, 2013
  • Debbie Tracy

    Hard to believe this soring is STILL going on, AND the people who do this call it TRAINING oh my god, REALLY??? Sounds like everyone is really trying to stop this finally, need to pass the bill 1518, so they can prosecute individual’s fully instead of a slap on the wrist…… I would report someone in a heart beat with out a reward no question…… Nothing but good can come from this in the end…..

    June 9, 2013
  • karen


    June 10, 2013
  • Ziggy Pope

    I believe with all my heart, the people that sore horses are sadists and those who want them dead before their natural deaths are psychopaths.

    June 10, 2013