"A controversial breed might be getting a new hoof in the door at the Kentucky Horse Park, and equine welfare groups are not happy.
"The Horse Park is in negotiations to allow a sale this month of Tennessee walking horses, possibly including some wearing controversialhoof pads that exaggerate their gait. The Kentucky After Christmas Sale hopes to offer about 300 horses for sale Jan. 25 and 26.
"Horse Park director John Nicholson (shown) said that legal activities have a right to use the state-run park. Padded horses are legal — although several groups headquartered on the park's campus, including the American Association of Equine Practitioners, are working to change that.
"The organizers of the sale say they want to be transparent and will use inspectors that the state specifies.
"During the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Horse Park, Games organizers would not allow padded Tennessee walking horses to perform.
"Given that and the bad publicity in the past few years concerning padded horses, the Horse Park seems to be going "against the tide," said Keith Dane, director of equine protection for the Humane Society of the United States."