TN Walking Horse rider accused of assaulting protester

A world champion Tennessee Walking Horse rider has been indicted for aggravated assault against a woman who was protesting animal abuse at a walking horse show in Maury County, according to the Columbia Daily Herald.

Jamie Lawrence, 42, of Vinemont, Ala., was charged with driving a truck in the direction of Teresa Bippen, 58, while she protested outside the Spring Jubilee at Maury County Park on May 30.

…Bippen and others were part of a demonstration against soring at Walking Horse shows. They were trying discourage attendance. Soring is the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ feet and legs to produce an exaggerated gait known as the “Big Lick” to impress judges.

“I am appreciative of the Maury County grand jury because I felt our rights to boycott were approved in advance,” Bippen said Thursday in a telephone interview from her home in Hillsboro, Mo. “I had a right to be where I was, and for anyone to take such a drastic action against me was scary.”

Lawrence, an expert rider and trainer in the Racking Horse division…”cut his truck hard left into the area where Ms. Teresa Bippen was standing,” Sheriff’s Lt. Andy Jackson wrote in a report. “Then he cut his wheels back hard right. I could not tell how close he came to Ms. Bippen.”

Jackson and two Columbia Police officers approached the truck, the report said.

“I asked the driver why in the world would he do that?” Jackson wrote. “He stated that he should not have.”
… In her witness statement, Bippen said Lawrence’s truck came directly at her after she saw him speaking with another protestor, Tara Taylor, about 10 feet away.

“I was surprised that he looked me directly in the eye,” Bippen wrote. “I raised my sign and said, ‘Big Lick, Big Lie’ and ‘Soring is Animal Abuse.’ I heard the motor gun, the vehicle sped up and suddenly turned toward me all at virtually the same time.

“I leaped to my right in order not to be run over, and I was grateful not to be hit. I recollect hearing the gravel crunch and seeing it scatter when the vehicle reached the edge of the road.”

…“The driver stopped his truck briefly,” Taylor, of Shelbyville, said. “He was very angry and yelled at me, ‘What right do you have to be here.’ I answered that I owned a Tennessee Walker. This seemed to further incite him and he yelled, ‘How do you know what I do to my horses’? I answered him that I had been to Walking Horse barns.”

Taylor said her interaction with Lawrence caused him to “to go into a red-faced rage.” She said he grabbed his steering wheel with both hands, gunned the engine and accelerated toward Bippen.

“I clearly remember thinking two things: One, OMG, he just swerved at her with malice, and, two, who would swerve so sharply on purpose while pulling a horse?” Taylor wrote.