SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A sore leg that caused the controversial disqualification of the favored stallion at a national walking horse event may have been caused by overwork instead of abuse, a federal inspector said.

Ebony's Time Around and trainer Lee Webb of Deason were barred from the World Grand Championship Stake Saturday at the annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration because of sensitivity in the horse's left foreleg.

The decision by the U.S Department of Agriculture inspector, Dr. Stewart Critchfield, prompted boos from the crowd and sent security guards scurrying to keep fans from the ring on the final night of the 10-day annual show.

Charles Thomas, another inspector, said Monday that the horse was not kept from the ring because of deliberate abuse called soring, which enhances the breed's exaggerated gait.

''We're not saying the horse was sored. We're just saying he showed some sensitivity. He (Webb) could have worked him too hard this week,'' Thomas said.

Pride's Jubilee Star and Franklin trainer Ramsey Bullington won the $10,000 stake, the culmination of the 48th annual show, before a crowd of nearly 26,000.

A group of Ebony's Time fans managed to enter the ring after the disqualification and ran around the circle to cheers with a banner bearing the 12-year-old horse's name.

Webb, meanwhile, said he did not plan to protest the ruling.

''We went into that inspection barn under the rules,'' Webb said. ''I don't know why the government man got on him. ... The government man started pushing and probing on him and if you do that long enough you're going to make them move.''