Inspectors at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration found a total of 219 violations of the Horse Protection Act among the 1075 horses examined, figures just released show.

The 40-year-old legislation is designed to protect walking horses from soring – the illegal practice of using chemical or mechanical irritants on the lower legs to encourage the high-stepping “Big Lick” gait.

Preliminary results from inspections at the show in Shelbyville, Tennessee, which ran late in August, have yet to include the results of testing for chemical irritants.

The summary from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that 1075 horses were inspected, with 219 violations found (20.4 percent). This compares to a rate of 6 percent in 2013, 9 percent in 2012 and 9.5 percent in 2011.

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