Horse trainer suspended by association after arrest

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

SHELBYVILLE -- A celebrated Tennessee Walking Horse trainer was arrested last week on charges of sex crimes against three girls and three days later his license was suspended by the Walking Horse Trainers Association.

J.W. "Dick" Peebles, 61, of Shelbyville, is scheduled for an appearance in Bedford County General Sessions Court on Jan. 26. Peebles is charged with sexual battery, solicitation of a minor and sexual exploitation by electronic means, according to Shelbyville Times-Gazette reports published last week.

He was arrested Jan. 3. On Thursday, the Walking Horse Trainers Association suspended Peebles' license to work as a trainer as sanctioned by the association. Peebles' arrest shocked and dismayed the industry, according to a long-time observer, noting that he was a member of the Celebration Hall of Fame.

Peebles' arrest stems from a complaint by a parent of one of the three teenage girls regarding incidents at his farm, according to Bedford County Sheriff's Capt. Becky Hord, who released very few of the details about the case.

One of the alleged incidents was in the spring last year when a victim was "offended by it and refused to go back" to Peebles' farm, Hord said. Other incidents were allegedly in December when one of the victims told a parent, who alerted authorities. Subsequently, it was learned the same behavior was happening with all three girls at different times.

The WHTA learned of Peebles' arrest on Jan. 4 and held a board conference call the next day when his suspension was unanimously approved.

"Due to the severity of the charges, the WHTA has suspended the license of Peebles immediately and will issue no further license until a resolution of the outcome has been confirmed," the organization said.