MARYVILLE, TN (WRCB) -- Authorities in Blount County seized 19 horses after officials say the horses were subjected to "soring."

Multiple agencies investigated the barn of Larry Wheelon in Maryville after receiving reports that he was soring.

Soring is when the trainer applies caustic chemicals and painful devices to the hooves and legs to produce the artificial high-stepping "Big-Lick" gait that gains unfair competitive advantage at horse shows.

Authorities say they found horses in visible pain, several barely able to stand.

"These horses are clearly in extreme pain – some of them from having chemicals applied to their skin and bolts driven into the soles of their hooves. We are grateful to be able to help rescue them so they will no longer have to suffer like this, simply for the sake of a blue ribbon. We commend the Blount County SPCA and Blount County Sheriff's Office for their hard work and dedication on this case," says Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The Humane Society of the United States

Wheelon was charged with one county of animal cruelty. Additional charges are pending.

Wheelon, who is an active director of the Tennessee Walking Horse Trainer's Association and sits on its ethics committee, has been cited by inspectors at least 15 times for violations of the federal Horse Protection Act between 1993 and 2012.