COLLIERVILLE, TN – It’s easy to demonize Jackie McConnell. About 500,000 people all over the world saw him on an ABC Nightline video doing cruel, inhumane and illegal things to Tennessee Walking Horses. McConnell went through the legal system, and he pled guilty twice, first in federal court, then in state court.
Part of his federal sentencing was to make a public statement about soring.
Here is the part of his statement where he apologizes.
The statement was released publicly for the first time at the “Sound Horse Conference” last weekend in Brentwood, Tennessee.
For some inexplicable reason, The Tennessean newspaper did not send a news reporter/s or photographer to cover the annual national Sound Horse Conference, nor did the newspaper make the public aware it was being held despite being advised a week ahead of time of the event.
That is not acceptable.
The reporter who usually covers Tennessee Walking Horses is the newspaper’s Religion Editor. Instead of attending the historic Sound Horse Conference last Saturday which was located 11 minutes from the newspaper office, the Religion Editor instead attended and covered a meeting of Republican Tennessee legislators in Nashville last Saturday who are concerned about ISLAM. Apparently, the “Islamophobic” Tennessee Republican legislators are afraid of Islam attacking America. A speaker pontificated on “far out” issues like cyber economic attacks from space upon which The Tennessean scribe reported. The last time Nephew Eugene looked, the United States was in charge of the national defense – not a few self appointed “Islamophobic” Tennessee Republican legislators.
The question has to be asked:
Why has The Tennessean Religion Editor, who is a good person, a nice person and a good writer, but not terribly interested in this particular subject matter, been assigned to this ongoing hot button story which primarily features:
It must be noted that there are some moralistic issues associated with the Tennessee Walking Horse story, but that is not its primary emphasis.
And by any measure, the Tennessee Walking Horse story trumps Tennessee “Islamophobia” stories in the State of Tennessee ten times out of ten.
Here is what The Tennessean readers missed out on because it did not cover the Sound Horse Conference. Some of the attendees and participants were:
- USDA National Horse Protection Coordinator Dr. Rachel Cezar – she is directly in charge of supervising the USDA vets who enforce the Horse Protection Act at the Celebration and other horse shows.
- Dr. Tracy Turner who does all the USDA thermography exams at the horse shows.
- Tennesseans Clay Harlin whose family owns Harlinsdale Farm,
- Dr. John Haffner, veterinarian on Horse Science Faculty at MTSU,
- Donna Benefield who testified before Congress on the PAST ACT.
- Keith Dane, The Humane Society of the United States Director of Equine Protection
- Teresa Bippen, President of FOSH (Friends Of Sounds Horses)
- Carl Bledsoe, Reformed Big Lick Walking Horse Trainer
- Michael Blackwell, DVM
- Neal Valk, DVM
- Marty Irby, Aide to Congressman Ed Whitfield, and former President of TWHBEA who also testified before Congress on the PAST ACT
Bill Harlin, 90 year old legendary Walking Horse figure who publicly endorsed the PAST ACT in The Tennessean.
- Walking Horse Report Editor Jeffrey Howard,
- TWHBEA Executive Committee member David Williams, VP Breeders
- Robert Beech, Tack proprietor, son of Walking Horse legend, the late S. W. Beech
- Dave Thomas, Publisher of ShelbyvilleNOW
- Gary Lane, Master Gaited Horse Clinician.
- Big Lick activist Sheryl Crawford
- WHOA President, Dee Dee Miller
- Former TWHBEA President David Pruett.
- Kim Bennett, Walking Horse Trainer
All of these people were available at the same place at the same time located 11 minutes from the newspaper, yet the newspaper did not send a reporter/s or photographer there to cover any part of it.
This cannot continue if The Tennessean is going to do what Tennessee’s flagship newspaper is supposed to do, and that is cover the news important to Tennesseans, and inform the public.
There is no bigger continuing story in Tennessee than the Tennessee Walking Horse story with over 60% of the United States Congress co-sponsoring the PAST ACT. Tennessee has gained the reputation, according to W. W. “Bill” Harlin as a “horse abuse state”. Mr. Harlin is for banning the pads and chains, and returning the Tennessee Walking Horse to its roots. Harlin was present when the breed registry was formed in Lewisburg, Tennessee in 1935.
All of the United States is pitted against the Celebration’s David L. Howard’s sore Big Lick crowd in Tennessee trying to perpetuate the sore Big Lick Tennessee Walking Horse.
Pulitizer Prizes are won by coverage of such stories.
Here are the elements of the Tennessee Walking Horse story:
- alleged “sport”
And The Tennessean’s approach to the multiple story opportunities presented by the Sound Horse Conference was to send its Religion Editor, who is assigned to the Tennessee Walking Horse story, to go cover “ISLAM” at the same time that the Sound Horse Conference was taking place?
There needs to be some soul searching by the current The Tennessean management regarding the coverage of this story in which The Nashville Tennessean played such a pivotal role in 1969-1970 when the Horse Protection Act was passed.
There are no obvious Religious elements that make the Tennessee Walking Horse issue a “Religion” story other than perhaps what Senator Tydings referred to as the “bestial” treatment of the defenseless Tennessee Walking Horses by Trainer BOYZ and their customers who pay them. These include people with money like PSHA Chairman Jim Cortner and Terry Dotson who are addicted to the sore Big Lick, and by Celebration Chairman David L. Howard and PSHA Spokesperson Jeffrey Howard, both who own The Walking Horse Report, and have grown rich from the sale of Ads for horses like the “bad image” 2013 World Grand Champion, “I Am Jose” being exhibited in Asheville, North Carolina:
To The Tennessean‘s credit, its editorial content has been excellent, yet informing the public through coverage of the news relating to the issue has been spotty at best. It was woefully lacking regarding the Sound Horse Conference. The newspaper did invite former U. S. Senator Joseph Tydings and Tennessee resident and Congressional witness Donna Benefield to appear before it last Friday. Yesterday, an informative story was written by Reporter Heidi Hall featuring Senator Alexander’s introduction of alternative legislation coupled with video of the Supporters of the PAST ACT – this was good journalism.
Yet, “Marvin From Cornersville” and Harold believe that The Tennessean readers need to have both sides of the story told in much more depth than is presently being presented in order that they may be adequately informed.
The presentations by the Sound Horse Conference will soon be on YouTube. Since The Tennessean newspaper whiffed on the Sound Horse Conference coverage, perhaps it will have its reporters watch those videos so they can make the public aware of the important things that were said and who said them. And so its reporters will be fully informed so they can do the best job possible, rather than just hitting a few high points.
Or maybe, just maybe, The Tennessean management will assign a Crime/Political reporter to provide in depth coverage for its readers and help out the Religion Editor who has had to carry the load so far on what is not a religion story in the first place.
A motivated knowledgeable reporter could probe the people making the assertions.
But I have wandered and digressed.
JACKIE MCCONNELL – HALL OF FAME TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE TRAINER
So the question is:
Was Jackie McConnell sincere in what he was saying or was he just “trying to get by” in doing something that the Federal Judge mandated?
Most people probably doubt that Jackie was sincere when he apologized “to all the horses he trained”.
Yet, very few people who read this have ever met Jackie McConnell to make an informed judgement.
Nephew Eugene knows someone who does know Jackie, and who has known him for over 30 years.
This person believes that Jackie McConnell in the video is chastened and sincere.
Does it remedy what the things he did to make a living – of course not.
But redemption has to start somewhere.
Nephew Eugene thinks redemption is a good thing. Even for The Tennessean management IF it puts more resources into covering the Tennessee Walking Horse story.