I love walkers. I used to show them in the "big" association shows when I was in middle/high school. I never could understand why I NEVER (and I mean never in 5/6 years) won a first place in any of the flat-shod classes I participated in. And then I realized what was going on. As a kid, I saw some of this soring happening at the shows/barns I would visit but I had no idea what it was and, sadly, I know many my age and younger that think it is okay because their friends/family/whoever has always done it. And then I realized - I wasn't doing well because my horses were completely natural. These days, I just trail ride and occasionally open show my girls.
I love the walking horse. I love their natural gait. I also love to watch a horse run across a pasture when turned out. After being around this industry for so long I can tell you that the heavy shoes BY THEMSELVES do not hurt the horse if put on properly. That being said, you can't safely turn one out on pads without risky injury and - on a personal level - I don't agree with that.
So, don't judge an entire breed/showing practice based on what you see in the news. There are plenty of people that show walkers that genuinely love their horses. At the same time, I have seen way too many instances of soring to be okay with the current state of the show circuit. I got out and back to the fun, open shows for a reason. This is a situation where some "side" is going to get hurt no matter the results. Either innocent, good-hearted walking horse exhibitionists are going to lose the ability to show when they have done nothing wrong or people that cheat (and yes, I feel that soring/illegal shoeing/etc is cheating) are going to be able to keep doing so.
As for me, my barefooted walking mares and I will be happily playing in the woods and at $5-per-class fun shows far away from the big shows.