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Debate Continues As Walking Horse Celebration Approaches

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Debate Continues As Walking Horse Celebration Approaches

CREATED Jul 23, 2014

by Jason Lamb

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – It's a Tennessee tradition that brings in millions of dollars to the mid-state, but could a piece of Washington legislation threaten the future of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville?

With less than a month to go before the celebration, preparations are well underway in Bedford County, gearing up for the 10 day show when an estimated $40 million is expected to be pumped into the local economy.

But this year, more eyes may be on the Walking Horse Industry as a bill in congress threatens to change regulations in the wake of abuse allegations and a 2011 undercover video showing horses being sored.

One bill, proposed by Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield, would ban weighted horseshoes.

Supporters like the U.S. Humane Society said weighted shoes encourage chemical soring in attempts to exaggerate how a horse walks in competition.

Mike Inman, the National Celebration CEO, said he, too, is against the practice of soring horses, but he said Whitfield's bill could essentially put an end to the Celebration because most of the horses use weighted shoes.

“It seeks to destroy the entire industry, by disqualifying 85 percent of the horses,” Inman said.

He's in favor of a different reform bill proposed by Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn that he said cracks down on soring, while not restricting the industry as much.

The 76th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration begins on August 20.

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