Allegations of animal abuse at this year's Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration continue.
The Humane Society of the United States claims there are ongoing cover-ups allowing horses to compete, netting their owners big profits.
The HSUS believes pressure to produce what's known as the "big lick" causes widespread abuse among trainers.
At a news conference in Murfreesboro Friday, Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society, said, "We have an industry in denial engaging in a cover-up and conspiracy in order to continue to sore horses for ribbons and profits."
Pacelle added, "We continue to see horses prancing around the arena with four inch stacks, chains around their hooves and still exhibiting an unnatural, bizarre and illegally induced gait."
Barney Davis, a former horse trainer who just finished serving almost a year in prison for violating the Horse Protection Act, also chimed in.
"Probably 90 to 95% of the horses are sored and it's to get the big lick," Davis said, adding, "These people aren't going to change, because these owners are going to take their horses somewhere to win."
Pacelle also told the media they visited the Celebration Thursday evening and witnessed horses in the ring they believe should not have made it through inspections.
The news conference turned combative when a man who identified himself as a concerned horse owner asked Pacelle to name those horses
The HSUS said they would like to see USDA inspectors allowed inside training barns, because Humane Society veterinarians don't believe walking horses can achieve their distinctive gait without being abused.
To that, Jeffrey Howard responded, "It's completely false. That's an outrageous claim Many independent veterinarians would tell you that is completely false."
Howard represents the Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization, or SHO, which held its own news conference just down the street from where the HSUS talked to the media.
Howard said horse abuse in the walking horse industry is the exception, not the rule.
"I know you all just came from the Humane Society press conference and I'm sure some very unflattering things were said," he said, adding, "There's not a cover up. We're very transparent. I invite anyone to come to the show tonight and see for your self."
Children and teens of all ages who show horses, participated in the news conference
Some talked about how their horses were turned away for the very first time at this year's Walking Horse Celebration, thanks to a stricter inspection process than ever before.
"I've been showing this one horse for the past two years. I've been in and out of the government [and] never had him turned down, but he's been turned down twice at the celebration and just the celebration," said Kalin Kesserling, a 17-year-old from Montverde, Florida.
Howard said the walking horse industry is open to allowing USDA inspectors in training barns.
"I find it very unfortunate that some of the negative advocacy groups out there use this audience to try to hurt our world championship and hurt our industry," Howard told the media. "I think inside the industry we're serious about protecting the welfare of the animal."
Howard said SHO HIO, the horse industry organization that inspects animals at the celebration, has suspended 150 trainers in the past few years, more than any other in the country.
According to the USDA, 52 out of 52 horses randomly swabbed at last year's show, tested positive for chemicals used to either sore the horse or numb the pain.
A new grand champion will be crowned Saturday night in Shelbyville.