BELL BUCKLE, Tenn. – It was that time of the year again when walking horse enthusiasts travel from all across the country to attend the annual Walking Horse Trainers' Association Banquet. The event was once again held at the Bell Buckle Banquet Hall, which this year was beautifully decorated in gorgeous holiday flare sponsored by Keith and Lorraine Rosbury, along with Gen’s Black Maverick. Last year the banquet was moved forward a week, from its traditional first weekend in December, but this year it was moved back occurring on December 2, 2017.

A silent auction was held and offered over 115 different items for those in attendance to bid on. Some of the available items were a lawn mower, Yamaha Golf Cart, 15 different stud fees, an exotic hunting trip in Texas, jewelry, clothes, a variety of gift baskets and a full color ad in the Walking Horse Report.

Mark Farrar once again was happy to serve as emcee for the night and handle all the announcing duties, and in his usual fashion, he kept the crowd fully entertained. Starting out the evening, Farrar took a moment to recognize several organizations that play major roles in the walking horse industry.

The third annual Living Legend Achievement Award was presented to the renowned Wallace Brandon. 
The 2017 Scholarship winners were acknowledged next. Presentations of the scholarships were made at the Celebration. New this year, the WHTA and the Billy Gray family presented their first ever scholarship to Ally Puckett. In their seventh year as scholarship sponsors, the Glenn C. Dowell Jr. family awarded scholarships to Thomas Derickson, Emily Moore and Brant Collier.

Bill Young and Bill Callaway were called to the stage next to be presented with his green blazer in recognition of his world grand championship win with Gen’s Black Maverick. The blazer is is embroidered with the Celebration logo and the year 2017. The blazer is donated by Frank and Shirley Neal in honor of 1992 World Grand Champion Dark Spirit’s Rebel. This tradition was started in 1995.

Frank and Shirley Neal made another great donation this evening, this time to the Trainers' Association. Bill Young and Marcia Allison were presented with a picture that reflects the blazers presented to former world grand champions in honor of Dark Spirit's Rebel. The Neals have requested this picture be placed at the Trainers' office.

The auxiliary awards were the next presentations to be made by Susan Coleman.

Youth 6-11:
Gold: Ani Drane
Silver: Jessica Lawwell
Bronze: Morgan Norris

Youth 12-14:
Gold: Brooklyn Fuss
Silver: Jayden Jackson
Bronze: Mia Thomas

Youth 15-17:
Gold: Claire Hankins
Silver: Alexandra Oddo
Bronze: Svanah Martin

Gold: Allison Thorson
Silver: Carmen Vaughan
Bronze: Morgan Wolin
The High Point Member of the Year honors go to an individual member who has accumulated the most points throughout the year in Auxiliary classes.

Gold: Taylor Walters
Silver: Dru McCormick
Bronze: Christy Mauney

Taylor Walters was presented with the Celebration award for capturing the world championship title aboard Miss Dixie Carter.

Auxiliary Rookie of the Year: Madison Scarborough
Auxiliary Member of the Year: Kim Wick

Mudslide Slim Award: Beth Lawwell

Next, Jimmy McConnell and Patrick Thomas were separately called to the stage. Edgar Abernathy presented McConnell with an award to recognize his 2017 Performance Trainer of the Year honor. Thomas was presented his award to recognize his 2019 Pleasure Trainer of the Year honor by Hannah Pulvers Myatt.

Bill Callaway was back on stage to be presented with another piece of clothing. This time he was awarded a customized riding suit from Marsha's on the Square for his world grand championship win with Gen's Black Maverick.

Edgar Abernathy was back on the stage next, this time with Rhonda and Kayla Baucom. A beautiful, custom collage by Shane Shiflet was presented to Kayla and Tyler Baucom in memory of their dad, Chad Baucom.

The WHTA Youth Council was next to the stage to present their annual awards. Counti Green and Boston Kate Tillman were presented with 16x20 framed pictures of the world grand championship performances.

New this year for the Youth Council, a point system was put into place to help encourage all youth members to participate in different events and horse shows. Throughout the year members earned points by helping to raise money for the FAST Legal Fund and for assisting at horse shows. 

The Kathy Zeis family graciously sponsored the program and donated the $500 that goes to the Youth Council member with the most points earned for the year.  

Jonathan Lawwell, who earned over 1,000 points, was presented with the $500.

Jessica Lawwell, Counti Green, Elli Hatmaker, Audrey Hatmaker, Tabby Curly, Cohen Abernathy and Ella Abernathy were all presented with $50 from Candy Green and Julie Lambert for having participated in more than five events this year and also for earning more than 700 points.

Last year, the Trainers' Association decided to honor and recognize three distinguished individuals in three important categories. It was decided to again honor individuals in these categories. These are voted on like the horse of the year honor. 

Groom of the Year: (tie) Petro Estrada (Callaway Stables) • Alberto Andrade (Myatt Manor)

Juvenile of the Year: Counti Green

Amateur of the Year: Dr. Jim Baum

Bill Callaway, chairman of the Riders’ Cup board, was next to come to the stage to present the Riders' Cup awards to both winning trainers and horses. Since it's inception in 2005, the Riders' Cup program has paid out over $900,000 to dedicated trainers who continue to bring top horses to shows all across the country.

The winner of the 2017 Riders’ Cup Performance Championship is no stranger to the program, having previously won in 2010 & 2011. That would be none other than Jimmy McConnell. Jimmy took the lead in mid-June and continued to pushed hard the rest of the season to be at the top of the performance division. Jimmy showed in 159 classes and an impressive 10,760 points ahead of second place Blaise Broccard, last year’s champion. For his hard work, determination and dedication to the Walking Horse industry, we are pleased to present Jimmy with a check in the amount of $13,222.18.

For the fourth year in a row, the 2017 Riders’ Cup Pleasure Division Overall honor goes to Jeff Laughlin. He took the lead the first of June and never looked back. He entered the ring a total of 47 times traveling to shows in four different states to claim the title. For his efforts, determination and persistence, we are pleased to present Jeff with a check in the amount of $5,286.78.

Next the Riders’ Cup divisional sponsors were brought to the stage for a presentation where they were presented with a plaque as a token of appreciation, as well as to applaud them for their generous support. Without each and them, this program would not have been possible. 

Next, awards were presented to the winners in each Riders' Cup category. 

Two-Year-Old Open – Gin’s Shadow 
Three-Year-Old Open – Coltrane 
Four-Year-Old Open – The Mason Dixie Line 
15.2 & Under – Paroled From Hardtime 
Stake – He’s Shady In Black 
Two-Year-Old Mare & Gelding – Jazz King’s Diamond Lady 
Three-Year-Old Mare & Gelding – Ms. So And So 
Four-Year-Old Mare & Gelding – Extra Special Jose’ 
Aged Mare & Gelding – Jose’s Ritzy Hawk
Open Specialty – I’m Handsome Jimmy Valiant 
Show Pleasure – Silver Patron 
Young/Experienced Trainers – Gus Malzahn 
Park Performance – Do Right 
Lite-Shod – Lil Wayne 
Park Pleasure – He’s A Dixieland Delight 
Classic Park Pleasure – The Power Hitter
Miscellaneous – Etta James By TJB 
Four & Under Trail Pleasure – Legend Of Zelda 
Model – Throw Me A Curve 
Four & Under Lite-Shod – Big Time Bandit 
Western Park Pleasure – I’m Dixie Blue 


2017 WHTA Horse of the Year Winners

Assistant Trainer of the Year
Performance: Clay Sanderson
Pleasure: Bailey Momb

Lead Line
Winner: Rattle N Snap
Reserve: Little Red Wagon

Amateur Two-Year-Old Mare or Gelding
Winner: A Sunday Rose
Reserve: A Rio Rita

Winner: Exeter
Reserve: Walkin’ & Jammin’ CTF

Amateur Two-Year-Old Stallion
Winner: I Am Mighty Jose’
Reserve: (tie) Dobie Gray • Strong Stock

Winner: Most Wanted MCF
Reserve: The Lady Godiva

Two-Year-Old Mare or Gelding
Winner: Just Gettin’ Started
Reserve: She’s Walkin’ Away

Lite-Shod Specialty
Winner: La Patrona
Reserve: Roscoe Jenkins

Two-Year-Old Stallion
Winner: Minor Ordeal
Reserve: Playing Gin

Youth Show Pleasure
Winner: Blues For Santana
Reserve: Dominick

Youth Pony
Winner: Rammer Jammer
Reserve: Ricky Ricardo

Trail Pleasure
Winner: Habanero
Reserve: Etta James By TJB

Adult Pony
Winner: The Dixie Lineman
Reserve: He’s The Lady’s Man

Country Pleasure
Winner: Cazadores
Reserve: Diamond At The Ritz

Winner: Memphis Raines
Reserve: Capital One

Amateur Three-Year-Old Mare or Gelding
Winner: Walkin’ Miss Charlie
Reserve: Hey Good Looking

Elite (50 Yrs. & Over)
Winner: Unreal
Reserve: Mr. Heisman

Amateur Three-Year-Old Stallion
Winner: The Darkest Hour
Reserve: Knock Down Drag Out

Western Lite-Shod
Winner: My Black Cadillac
Reserve: Lucky Daze

Three-Year-Old Mare or Gelding
Winner: She’s Blue As Ice
Reserve: Molly Lou Melon

Western Park Pleasure
Winner: Overpass
Reserve: Rise To Fame

Three-Year-Old Stallion
Winner: A Gin To Win
Reserve: My Shockwave

Fine Harness
Winner: Lined Royal Cash
Reserve: Bingo Time

Winner: He’s All Colored Up
Reserve: Ritz Entourage

Ladies Amateur Specialty
Winner: Powerstroke’s Evening Star
Reserve: Gin Toddy

Men’s Amateur Specialty
Winner: Jose’s Centerfold
Reserve: Unreal

Amateur Canter
Winner: Led Zeppelin
Reserve: The Who

Juvenile Park Pleasure
Winner: BB King’s Jazz
Reserve: Boston Bay

Amateur Four-Year-Old Mare or Gelding
Winner: Miss Dixie Carter
Reserve: She’s The Black Widow

Amateur Four-Year-Old Stallion
Winner: Maroon 5
Reserve: Hey Tomcat

Amateur Park Pleasure
Winner: Lined Up At The Ritz
Reserve: Top Recruit

Amateur Lite-Shod
Winner: Roscoe Jenkins
Reserve: My Black Cadillac 

Four-Year-Old Mare or Gelding
Winner: Extra Special Jose’
Reserve: Master’s Stormy Jazz

Professional Park Pleasure
Winner: Dose’
Reserve: BB King’s Jazz

Four-Year-Old Stallion
Winner: A Pink Floyd
Reserve: The Mason Dixie Line

Four & Under Country Pleasure
Winner: Que Bella
Reserve: Sweet As Strawberry Wine

Amateur Park Performance
Winner: A Touche’
Reserve: Tiger Blood

Amateur Show Pleasure
Winner: Godfather By Ultra Copy
Reserve: He’s Starbucks

Four & Under Trail Pleasure 
Winner: Jose’s Grand Muchacha
Reserve: Slingblade

Professional Park Performance
Winner: Do Right
Reserve: Ain’t He Grande

Amateur Five-Year-Old Stallion
Winner: Mr. Trump
Reserve: Uptight Jose’

Juvenile 11 & Under
Winner: Oh My Darlin’
Reserve: Inception

Professional Show Pleasure
Winner: Entitlement
Reserve: He’s Starbucks

Amateur Five-Year-Old Mare or Gelding
Winner: Manning
Reserve: Be My Baby

Amateur 15.2 & Under Mare or Gelding
Winner: He’s The Lady’s Man
Reserve: Nine Carat Diamond

Juvenile 12-17
Winner: The American Patriot
Reserve: Benelli

Amateur 15.2 & Under Stallion
Winner: He’s Made In The USA
Reserve: I’m Pushin’ N Line

Amateur Specialty
Winner: A Bruce Pearl
Reserve: (tie) Epic • Deal Me Aces JC

15.2 & Under Mare or Gelding
Winner: He’s The Lady’s Man
Reserve: An American Threat

15.2 & Under Stallion
Winner: (tie) Mr. Country Gentleman • Samsung
Reserve: I’m Pushin’ N Line

One-Night Horse Show
Money Tree Classic

Multi-Night Horse Show
(tie) North Carolina Championship • Columbia Spring Jubilee

15.2 & Over Mare or Gelding
Winner: Nevermore
Reserve: Jose’s Centerfold

15.2 & Over Stallion
Winner: Gen’s Black Maverick
Reserve: Incredible Machine