A group of Tennessee Walking Horse welfare advocates targeted the North Carolina State Fair to protest the inclusion of certain classes in the fair's annual horse show.

Tennessee Walking Horses are federally protected from soring, the deliberate injury to a horse's feet and legs to achieve an exaggerated gait, by the Horse Protection Act (HPA). Some Tennessee Walking Horse welfare advocates support a federal ban on the use of performance packagesused in padded show classes at some breed shows.

Earlier this month, North Carolina resident Michelle Disney launched a petition on Change.org asking state fair manager Wesley Wyatt and North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) Commissioner Steve Troxler to cancel the fair's Tennessee Walking Horse performance classes.

According to Disney's petition, some Tennessee Walking Horses are “forced to wear tall, heavy stacked shoes, which accentuate the artificial gait. Often times, trainers will shove sharp, metal objects, such as tacks or nails, between the horse’s hoofs and stacks,” the petition said. “As a result of the soring process, the horses step unnaturally high because their feet are burning in (pain).”

The petition goes on to say that “the people of North Carolina firmly believe that the intentional abuse of horses is cruel and should (not) be on display at our fairgrounds! North Carolina horse show participants deserve an even playing field—free of trainers who take abusive shortcuts, and fair goers deserve a show of true horsemanship with only properly shod and humanely trained horses.”

As of Oct. 17, the petition had ga