Debate over horse soring still stretches from show ring to Washington, D.C.

Natalie Jackson-Pritchard shows the horse Champagne Watchout in the World Grand Championship class on the final night of this year's Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, held in Shelbyville, Tenn., on Saturday night. Champagne Watchout was the only flat-shod (wearing no pads) horse to compete in the class.

U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn, both Tennessee Republicans, have introduced legislation they say will protect Tennessee walking horses and the breed's tradition, but opponents say it would continue to shield long-standing abusive practices within the industry.

Tennessee walking horses are known for their pleasant demeanor and naturally smooth, lofty gaits. However, since the 1960s, the breed has garnered national attention over the issue of "soring" - when humans intentionally injure horses' hooves or legs to make them step higher.

Inflicting pain on the lower limbs creates an exaggerated, high-stepping gait known as the "big lick." The artificial movement remains popular among some old-school judges and big-name competitors, particularly in Tennessee and Kentucky.

While lawmakers agree that more needs to be done to stop soring, they differ in their ideas as to how.

Alexander