Statement on Convicted Horse Abuser Jackie McConnell Returning to Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration

Following a report by, that convicted Tennessee Walking Horse abuser Jackie McConnell attended the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration on Friday night, Animal Wellness Action (AWA) executive director Marty Irby released the following statement:

“Allowing Jackie McConnell to return to the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is a disgrace that has given both the Celebration and Governor Bill Lee, who attended the event on Saturday night, another black eye. The Celebration should uphold its lifetime ban on McConnell and go further to ban the use of large-stacked shoes, and ankle chains that have perpetuated the six-decade-long scourge of soring at the event.

“As one of the largest USDA certified inspection programs in the breed, the Celebration’s subsidiary – the SHOW HIO – has the power to eradicate these gruesome devices from their events and prevent horse abusers like McConnell from attending.”

Leaders at AWA have worked to enact the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act since 2012 when it was first introduced in the U.S. House by Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.

The PAST Act only achieved passage through the House in 2019 as result of changing the bill’s name to the U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial PAST Act to honor the late Joe Tydings – who authored the HPA in 1970 and passed away in 2018.

The PAST Act, despite strong leadership by Senators Mike Crapo, R-Ida., and Mark Warner, D-Va., has never come up for a vote in the Senate since it was introduced in the Upper Chamber in 2013. Opposition from lawmakers from Kentucky and Tennessee continue to stall the measure indefinitely in the Senate.

Full release available online.

 Animal Wellness Action (Action) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies, and we work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.

Contact: Marty Irby at 202-821-5686 or