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Maverick fights his way to the top

He’s had a solid, steadily upward moving career that’s landed him so close more than once. Finally, the nine-year-old stallion — with the help of his tenacious owners, a dedicated trainer, and a supporting staff of many — earned the roses.

Gen’s Black Maverick was crowned the 2017 World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse with Bill Callaway riding for owners Lorraine and Keith Rosbury of Bell Buckle, Tennessee. 

“A friend of ours told us to keep on celebrating because this (winning the World Grand Championship) is hard to do,” said Lorraine Rosbury, reflecting on the experience a few days after the show. “We’ll never take it for granted. I’m overwhelmed, excited, appreciative … I promised, and I meant it, that we’re in this business for the long haul. As we speak, Allan is picking up three yearlings for us, one of them was this year’s world grand champion yearling. This winter we’ll be watching our newest hopes.  

“I do know this,” she continued, “It will be a long time before another horse like Maverick comes along. He’s the horse of a lifetime.”

This captivating story that’s warmed the hearts of many begins with a hometown kid with a big dream magically teaming up with the Rosburys, who also had a big dream. They’ve had their eyes set on winning the big stake for years and made it no secret that Maverick was the horse that could take them there. 

“We bought him six years ago as a three-year-old,” she said. “We had a horse with another trainer (Chad Williams) who started Maverick. I saw him at Chad’s and watched him quite a bit. Then, we saw him show at the Trainers’ Show that year and I said, ‘Wow. This horse is fabulous.”

About four years ago, the Rosburys found an ideal partnership for their needs in Bill Callaway, the 34-year-old son of Allan Callaway. The Callaways operate one of the largest facilities in the industry off of their 41A location in Shelbyville. They bring dozens and dozens of entries to the show each year and entered well over 100 entries in this year’s show. The Callaways topped the overall blue-ribbon tally at the show with an astonishing 19 wins, with Maverick’s being the most prized title of all.

Lorraine has no shame in admitting she was upfront with everyone on the huge Callaway team that her main objective, even back then, was for Maverick to one day win the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship. The Rosburys moved to Bell Buckle, where they have their residence as well as a farm, from Dallas about five years ago. They initially planned to have a trainer work their horses at their farm.

“When we brought the horses to Bill we talked to him about this,” Lorraine said. “It’s been a long road, but we were very transparent from day one. Of course we still want to support others at the barn, but we talked to Bill and Allan and said we want to come to you but it has to be with the understanding that the support has to be behind Maverick becoming the World Grand Champion.”

The Callaways agreed and the journey began. 

Maverick and Bill did well from the start and continued to improve each time they showed. Back in 2014 they won their preliminary section at the Celebration and finished the week as the reserve world grand champions. They again won their preliminary section in 2015 but came out with third in the championship. Another year went by before they had their next chance.

“When the season began this year we had deliberately chosen the horse shows we’d compete at with the Celebration being the end goal,” Bill said. 

They showed at the Fun Show, a larger and more formal show where the industry is widely represented, as well the Money Tree Classic during the Fourth of July weekend, which offered a more laid back “one night show” atmosphere without lacking in competition. He won both times out and was primed for this year’s Celebration. 

Just because the timing seemed right, however, doesn’t mean winning the World Grand Championship is any guarantee. Anything can happen, and the competition across the board was strong, Lorraine said. 

“You just never know what will happen or who’s going to be in there,” Lorraine said. “I know Maverick intimately and know how wonderful he is and have tremendous faith in Bill. Bill has a sophisticated way of gauging him and has done an amazing job with him. Even though I know all this anything can happen and you just never know.

“At the end of the day, thankfully, he wore the roses and the fact that the competition was so great makes the win all that more meaningful,” she said. 

“We love it here and we love this industry. That’s why we moved here. We could have retired anywhere, but we chose Shelbyville because of our love for this breed. I’m just so flattered that people have stayed in support of Maverick.”

In the 14 times he’s been shown since the Rosburys purchased him, he’s won 12 times. Even Keith, who wasn’t a “horse person” so to speak, has become totally immersed with the breed because of his love for Maverick. 

Keith has played his part as a supporting cast member well. He helped name him (they changed his name upon purchasing him) — in 2011 when the Dallas Mavericks won their NBA title is the year they changed the name and that was Keith's idea. Beyond that, Keith has mainly focused on supporting the Callaways and his wife as they set out to accomplished the dream. 

“Bless him,” laughed Lorraine. “He didn’t even like horses before he met me but he has just been so incredibly supportive. It’s a tremendous effort and commitment and I’m truly blessed to have his support as he’s stuck by my side all the way as I’ve dreamed about Maverick being the World Grand Champion.”

One can dream all day long but without determination and talent a title as large as the World Grand Championship simply can’t happen. Thankfully both Bill and Maverick have a lot of both. 

“I don’t know if people realize, but Maverick made three extra passes, and that takes a whole lot,” Lorraine said. “Again, Bill is so good at gauging him, knowing when to hold back and save him and knowing when to push.”

Bill agreed and said one of the best things about Maverick is how well-regulated he is.
“Regulated is a term we use for him at the barn,” Bill explained. “I wanted to push him enough to stay competitive but you never know in that class. It’s the longest class you could ever imagine, but I think he got better and better and just continued improving throughout the whole class.”

Beyond his big motor, Bill says Maverick had the qualities it takes to wear the roses because of his consistency and ability to learn. He can perform the running walk hard and fast, yet he can flat walk slow and with lots of motion and head shake. He’s strong. He’s slow. He canters effortlessly. He can do it all.

“He’s the most talented horse I’ve ever fooled with,” Bill said. “He’s trainable and can learn anything you teach him. He’s relaxed and sensible; the smartest horse I’ve worked with … His timing is always perfect, too. He hits a good, four-beat rhythm and when I ask him to running walk from a flat walk he can just change gears like a truck and go from zero to 60 in no time.”

Maverick’s demeanor is also a stand out trait. Bill said he’s a gentle giant at the barn and a horse he can trust with full confidence around his small children, which is a rare trait as a powerful stallion. 

All this combined will hopefully make him a highly-sought breeding stallion and great ambassador for the breed at large, Lorraine said. “We want people to be excited about the future of the breed and we think they will do that with Maverick.”

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