Annual walking horse competition kicks off this week under renewed criticism of soring practice

Staff Photo by Alyson Wright/Chattanooga Times Free Press - September 1, 2012 Judges line up to watch riders show their horses into the ring during the final night of this year's Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, held in Shelbyville, Tenn., on Saturday night.
photo Riders in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship class wait for the judges to finish their inspections during the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn., on Saturday night.

The biggest competition for the Tennessee walking horse breed begins Wednesday in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

For some, the 11-day Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration - often called the Celebration - embodies the best of the breed and its traditions. For others, it's tainted by the cruel practice of horse soring - when humans intentionally injure horses' hooves or legs to make them step higher, creating an artificial gait known as the "big lick."

Soring