Kingston, TN – Last year, things were rocking along for the East Tennessee Walking Horse Association. Larry Joe Wheelon was the Dean of the East Tennessee trainers, and Terry Dotson, truck magnate whose wife liked Tennessee Walking Horses, was the new big money guy throwing money around in the Tennessee Walking Horse racket.
Dotson spared no expense and built a marvelous multi-million dollar show place at Winding Creek Stables outside Kingston, TN. And Larry Joe Wheelon had it going on over in Maryville, TN operating a training barn out on Tuckaleechee Pike. Wheelon was Chairman of the Walking Horse Trainer’s Ethic Committee. Dotson’s trainer Brent Coburn was a Larry Wheelon protoge’. All of this is euphemistically called “the industry”.
Each Spring one of the highlights of the ETWHA was the lavish barn party celebrating the beginning of the show season.
2012 EAST TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE ASSOCIATION BARN PARTY
“Barn party set for Saturday in Kingston
March 2, 2012 – The East Tennessee Walking Horse Trainers’ Association will hold a barn party along with silent auction and colt preview, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Winding Creek Stables, located at 472 Poplar Springs Road in Kingston.
The stables are owned by the Terry Dotson family. There will be a barbecue lunch, and many items available in the silent auction, including theme baskets, household items, subscriptions, cakes, pies and more
Palm Beach Ritz, a two-time World Grand Champion and several times World Champion, will be exhibited. Several colts and horses from Middle Tennessee, Kentucky and Upper East Tennessee along with several horses from Winding Creek Stables will also be exhibited.
The event is free and open to the public. It will be held rain or shine. For more information, contact Larry Wheelon at 865-748-8660 or 379-8175.”
Looking at Terry Dotson more closely, he was a Walking Horse “racket” dream come true. And one thing “Herr” Howard’s “Big Lick” cabal excels at is separating rich folks from their money. Terry Dotson was an up and coming prospect. When the ride got rocky for Herr’s empire in 2012, and the USDA seemed serious about the Mandatory “Minimum Penalties”, Herr Howard had to get a group together because his Cash Cow “Cha Ching” was in danger.
So this is how it went down. TWSHO was formed by the “Big Lick” crowd in June 2012 to rally support by against the USDA federal regulations known as the Mandatory “Minimum Penalties”. To be a Director of TWSHO, you had to have some serious bucks. Operating behind the green curtain, “Little Green Man “Herr” David L. Howard would invite you by having “Young Herr” Jeffrey extend the invitations. So Terry Dotson was picked to be on the TWSHO (Tennessee Walking Show Horse Owners) Board of Directors. No By-Laws, of course.
TWSHO then backed the non-transparent “Swabbing Initiative” and the “slam dunk” Texas lawsuit against the USDA. The litigation cost approximately $500,000.00 and the Swabbing Initiative” cost approximately $300,000.00.
Swabbing was “fixedly” non-transparent hocus pocus from the get go to make people to guess which shell the pea was under and it had no credibility. The lawsuit had no merit. It hit a brick wall when U.S. Circuit Court Judge Terry Means “slam dunked” the Celebration/SHOW HIO with a Summary Judgement on July 29, 2013.
There was a time during 2010 when possibly “Herr” Howard and the Celebration could have cut some kind of deal to get things settled. Instead of doing that, “Herr” stubbornly resisted and kicked the can down the road. In early 2013, the Celebration’s SHOW HIO was now in debt about $560,000.00 and “Herr” Howard had to do something.
So this time, they formed PSHA – Performance Show Horse Association in late February 2013 to provide “unity”. The PSHA was to take over from TWSHO with an added feature that Herr Howard conned the WHTA leadership into getting its Members to join the PSHA ,and also by doing so, keep any WHTA showjjj And how many times have we heard the word “unity”? Picture Adolf Hitler annexing the Sudetenland in Czechoslovokia.
PSHA – Performance Show Horse Association was supposed to do four things:
- Be the Public Face of the “Big Lick” padded performance horse
- Become certified as an HIO by USDA to take over from the embattled debt ridden and proven failure SHOW HIO.
- Form a new “American Walking Horse” Breed Registry”
- Provide “Herr” Howard with TOTAL CONTROL of the Tennessee Walking Horse Racket.
Then a few not so funny things happened on the way to forum.
Terry Dotson “naively” went up to see U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on March 30, 2012, and took with him “Young Herr” Jeffrey Howard and WHTA President Mickey McCormick. Vilsack had McCormick’s HPA violation file in front of him when he gave Dotson’s contingent a brief 15 minutes. Dotson said a bunch of junk about what a great job they were doing stopping soring , and just ‘trust them’ – they would take care of everything.
About 17 days later, April 17, 2012, USDA Office of Inspector General Special Agent Julie McMillian obtained a Search Warrant based on probable cause. On April 18, 2013, Wheelon’s barn was raided and evidence seized. On April 25, 2013, Wheelon was arrested and charged with felony of aggravated cruelty to animals under Tennessee law.
Note: Larry Joe Wheelon is afforded the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Several East Tennessee horse shows were cancelled or postponed during the summer of 2012.
So cutting to August 2013, here is what went down last month at the Celebration in Shelbyville with these two key players, Larry Joe Wheelon and Terry Dotson.
Larry Joe Wheelon
August 13,14 & 15, 2013 – Larry Joe Wheelon
A Preliminary Hearing was held in General Sessions Court. The Judge upheld the Search Warrant, but turned Wheelon loose after the District Attorney General fumbled and didn’t keep up with a key witness. The witness was in the courtroom at the wrong time, and the Judge dismissed Preliminary Hearing on a technicality. Public outrage immediately followed and 1,269 persons have signed an online Petition and approximately 300 people have signed in person. These Petitions encourage and support Blount County District Attorney General Mike Flynn to take Larry Joe Wheelon case before the Blount County Grand Jury. That is all pending DAG Flynn’s decision.
August 22, 2013 – Terry Dotson
On the first Thursday night, August 22, 2013 of the Celebration, PSHA Chair Terry Dotson had two horses trained by Brent Coburn get turned down by the USDA VMOs. Then Terry Dotson tried throwing his weight around that night and got into a heated verbal altercation with a USDA Vet. This is not exactly what you need to doing when you are Chairman of the PSHA and 90 days after you met with U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and told him to trust you to lead the effort to stop soring and be HPA compliant. The following Monday, August 26, Terry Dotson resigned as Chairman of the PSHA, saying he was “too old to be upset and mad”, Terry packed up his “camper” and went back home to Kingston, Tennessee.
So that’s the “August Story” of East Tennessee’s two big lick stalwarts – Terry Dotson, Ex-PSHA Chair, and Larry Joe Wheelon who is whistling past the graveyard waiting for the other shoe to fall. Word has it Brent Coburn is no longer in the employ of Terry Dotson.