CHATTANOOGA, TN (Times Free Press) -- The question of whether federal horse show regulators will reject the inspector group that oversees the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration appears headed for a showdown.

"At this time, nothing is guaranteed in terms of SHOW's authority to preside over the Celebration," according to Dave Sacks, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Horse Protection Act that is aimed at preventing the abuse of walking horses in training and showing.

The Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn., is the $1.4 billion walking horse industry's largest and premier event. SHOW -- short for Sound Horse, Honest Judging, Objective Inspections, Winning Fairly -- is the industry-led inspection group for the Celebration, and it has balked at adopting the new, toughened penalties that took effect July 9 to prevent soring -- the use of chemicals and objects of pain to exaggerate the "big lick" gait that helps walking horses win competitions.

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