BRENTWOOD, TN – Stephen B. Smith, known as Steve Smith, in the Walking Horse World and Stephen B. Smith in the Republican smoke filled back room deals and money raising has been up to his eyeballs knowing about horse soring for over 25 years due to his relationship with Franklin, Tennessee horse trainer David Landrum.
Sound horse advocate Donna Benefield has called Steve Smith out on his history of sore horses. Apparently, Steve Smith has all sorts of horse soring baggage to carry with him as U. S. Senator Lamar Alezander’s $3 million dollar Campaign Chairman and nominee-elect as President of TWHBEA due to his close relationship with serial HPA Violator David Landrum of Franklin, Tennessee.
For over 25 years, Steve Smith and his family have rented David Landrum the barn where Landrum trained Big Lick horses. The horses won a lot of blue ribbons for customers at the expense of a lot of hurting sore horses. Landrum’s assistant trainers include Winky Groover, Chad Way, Link Webb, Tim Smith, Joe Cotten and Knox Blackburn. The Big Lick is based on horse soring. You can’t have the Big Lick without horse soring.
David Landrum and the assistant trainers who have worked for him over those approximately 25 years have an extensive record of horse soring. Horse soring is hurting horses for competitive advantage in the show ring. It goes on in the barn where horses are trained and in the show ring where they are exhibited. The trainers have always done pretty much what they wanted to the horses at the barn which is private property. That got to be a little more problematical in July 2012 when the State of Tennessee made aggravated animal cruelty a felony. Jackie McConnell was busted in August 2011 when cruelty to animals was a misdemeanor. He pled guilty in May 2012, and was sentenced in federal court in September 2012, $75,000.00. McConnell was sentenced in state court for a misdemeanor in July 2013 with a year of house arrest and $25,000.00 fine. One of Landrum’s WHTA (Walking Horse Trainers Colleagues) Larry Joe Wheelon, Chairman of the Trainer’s Ethics Committee was busted in April 2013 on felony aggravated animal cruelty charges. A preliminary cause hearing was dismissed against Wheelon in August due to a technicality and the case may soon go before a Maryville, Tennessee Grand Jury. Landrum closed his Big Lick operation after the 2013 Celebration.
Steve Smith’s father built the Big Lick training barn for Landrum out on Highway 96 near Franklin, Tennessee. Landrum prospered there for the approximately 30 years training Big Lick horses. Actually, he was more of a rarity – a college educated – “executive” telephone type of trainer than one who spent much saddle time. Landrum’s method of operation was to hire up and coming talented young trainers and provide them with superior stock owned by wealthy customers. Landrum’s speciality was handling the “industry” politics and “judges relations” and close relationships necessary with horse inspectors, DQPS and their bosses, to get horses in the show ring. It is well known that Landrum was especially close to David L. Howard, present Celebration Chairman and The Walking Horse Report publisher
David Landrum served a two year federal suspension from horse training from 1997 – 1999.
Steve Smith was President of TWHBEA from 1995 – 1997.
DAVID LANDRUM AND HORSE SALES LP
For over 20 years David Landrum has been a partner in Horse Sales, LP. The premier event as the Kentucky After Christmas Sale held in Lexington, Ky each year Last year there was controversy surrounding the sale being held at the renowned Kentucky Horse Park. The Sale was held there, but NO Big Lick padded chain horses were brought there. The sale entries were inspected by International Walking Horse Association with which Donna Benefield is associated. Previously, the horse inspections were done by the Celebration’s Show HIO.
To illustrate the extent to which David Landrum has been associated in dealing with sore horses which have violated the Horse Protection Act, and why Christy Howard Parsons correctly said “Because soring is a major problem” – which directly contradicts Steve Smith’s claim of 98.5% HPA compliance, the following is an analysis of the 2013 LP Sales Kentucky After Christmas Sale catalogue.
Summary of Horses to be Sold at the 2013 Kentucky After Christmas Sale
Based on a catalogue released by the sale, there were approximately 351 sale entries. Each horse was searched in the Walking Horse Report Online’s show records or TWHBEA’s ipeds database to identify a current owner. Then, both the horse’s name and the current owner’s name were searched in the USDA’s Responsible Parties databases for 2010, 2011, and 2012 and in the Hpadata.us database of violations prior to 2010.
HPA Violations Associated with Sale Horses
For 132 horses of the 307 listed for sale for whom an owner could be found, no associated violations of the Horse Protection Act were found. However, the current owners of 199 of the horses entered for sale (as listed in the Walking Horse Report website Show Results database or the TWHBEA ipeds database) were associated with an alleged or confirmed HPA violation. This means that approximately 56.7% of the total horses being sold are owned by individuals cited and/or penalized for HPA violations. 54 of the 112 identified owners, or approximately 48.2%, have been cited at least once for an HPA violation. Additionally, 33 of the 112 individual owners identified (or 29.5%) have been cited more than once for HPA violations.
2 of the horses being sold, Master of Fashion owned by Joe Laughlin, and Lightning’s Summer Love, owned by Donnie Headrick, have been the subject of citations for soring violations in the past. These horses make up 1.5% of the sale. For both, their current owners or other owners with horses at the sale were the responsible parties for those violations.
Violations by Type
The approximately 134 individual cited violations by owners of horses entered for sale were categorized as Unilateral or Bilateral Sore, Scar Rule violations, Foreign Substance violations, Action Device, or Illegal Chain violations were found.
Percent of Violations
David Landrum’s Franklin horse training operation hit a major stump in mid-2012, not long after the Jackie McConnell video was released, when a horse, Jose’s Wine & Roses, was allegedly moved from his stables over to that of a former colleague Hall of Fame Trainer Joe Cotten. Joe Cotten’s reputation was that of a talented intense individual who could get the Big Lick horses to do the Big Lick. The horse allegedly moved to Cotten’s was owned by Deborah Murphy, wife of L. M. Murphy, who has judged the Celebration more than one time.
But that’s another story for another day.