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Marsha Prock remembers the Celebration




Marsha Prock remembers the Celebration

(Editor’s Note: The following thoughts and memories about The Celebration were submitted to Walking Horse Report by horse show enthusiast Marsha Prock.)

It’s raining, and it is August, so I have less to do and more time to think about the upcoming Celebration, and it occurs to me there are elements I very much miss from early, early years gone by.

1. I miss the country ham sandwiches sold from morning to night. One friend enjoying her first Celebration week commented on how easy it was to eat four salty ham sandwiches and drink at least four, full-sugar Cokes in less than an hour. Of course, we didn’t know they were overly salty nor that the Cokes were anything but normal.

2. I miss the cedar whittling sticks, and this was much more of a social event beyond a chance for boys to run around selling one inch by ten inch sticks for a dollar. There were great conversations as men, young and old, sat around just making a cedar shavings pile at their feet, and additionally there were intense knife selling and swapping that could encompass an entire week.

3. The old campground would not recognize all the big, growling RVs that are parked on that old “tenting ground.” Many people hauled horses to the show, swept out the floors and covered them with canvas. Then camp beds went up with no AC but with the added advantage of the faint scent of good, healthy horse droppings — the scent that drew us all to a small town.

4. Without the mentioned air conditioning, females of the horse show species organized long shopping trips to a very attractive Shelbyville Square, and then killed the long, hot afternoons with drawn up chairs discussing the main issues of the day… largely — where the men went and why men are, well. . men.

5. The draw of the old, now defunct swimming pool cannot be understated in the Middle Tennessee heat. People who had sweated off the ham sandwiches all arrived and with so many bodies there was little room to swim, but a great deal of cooling water play. More could fit in the pool, because people were smaller then — due to the sweating, I believe.

6. Vendors were set up everywhere there was a shady tree. You could buy used horse shoes and now almost unbelievable “used horse shoe nails” right next to display of turquoise earrings.

7. The horse sales were many and varied. The old Bobo horse sale was a free-for-all type where both trail grade and show grade youngsters passed hands faster than you could swallow another ham sandwich. Then there were the free-drinks-served upper end sales where tickets were required. Not a drinker, I remember sitting on a fence watching Sun’s Delight D romp around his private enclosure at the breeding barn.

8. The mornings were worth getting up for, because the campgrounds were filled with the smells of early coffee and bacon and eggs being cooked over open fires. The fires were tolerable in the cool of the morning and would provide enough strength for what may be the factor I miss the most.

9. Delight's Bumin Around WAS entered in the stake his four-year-old show season. He won reserve — ye that was, I believe, his only loss in his show career. He came back as a five-year-old and was crowned Grand Champion. Seeing Billy Gray eating breakfast at Huddle House a few years ago we approached to tell him how we had enjoyed seeing him show that fine horse. He was, as is the Southern Country Gentleman, very gracious and shared with us that he felt that particular horse was the pivot upon which the modern Walking Horse developed. Thus number 10 remains the same. We will return this year in the 50th year of our marriage looking for just that kind of horse and that kind of graciousness. I am sending a picture reproduced (could be faded in) in Photoshop of a much-damaged picture of Sun of the Shenandoah — a yearling we bought for little money as a pleasure horse at the old Bobo Sale Barn, loaded into a U-Haul Trailer and brought back across the Big River to Missouri where another kind trainer informed us he really was a show horse. In '72 the Missouri State Fair was ended Walking Horse Classes on Saturday night, giving us time to wash all our camp-out gear and hit the road the next day for Tennessee and the Celebration. Thirty-seven years later, the same trainer kindly showed another horse, and, like most Walking Horse people, Jerry Manes, was a good hearted and full of fun as any we have met.  Our first purchase was an ignorant, beginner's luck, but has sealed our love for both the breed and the wonderful people we have met along our journey.

10. But most of all as an aging TWH fanatic, I miss is the friendliness that would allow kids like us to talk to the big-name trainers. They not only had time to notice us, but showed real interest in people who were not already-announced people of vast wealth — just simple horse lovers. While I very much look forward to this year’s Celebration, I do allow myself to drift back to a simpler time when salt and sugar had not been declared human poisons, and horse people were just that — people who dropped everything for a week to smell, sniff, and swelter to enjoy the horses we loved with a large, friendly family of people just like us.

 

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