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Report Conversation - Virginia Stewart




(Editor’s Note: A Q&A between Walking Horse Report editorial director Sadie Fowler and Virginia Stewart follows. Stewart resides in Shelbyville, Tennessee and enjoys owning horses and actively working in various local volunteer capacities.)

Fowler:
Where are you original from and can you tell us how you came to live in Shelbyville? Tell us a little about your background.

Stewart: I am from Jonesboro, Louisiana, in north central LA. I joke that I am a North LA Redneck as opposed to a south LA Cajun … I lived in New Orleans for 43 years, graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in education and never taught a day after graduation. My husband Gene and I moved permanently to Shelbyville after Katrina destroyed our home in 2005. We now have Evergreen Walking Horse Farm and too, too many horses but I am so very grateful for everything. Sometimes the bad luck can turn in to something positive.
 
Fowler: How would you describe your role in the industry?

Stewart: Owner, former rider/exhibitor. Now the trainers and/or a friend do all the riding of our horses. Also, I am an avid supporter of the Tennessee Walking Horse and the industry.
 
Fowler: Tell me what stands out from the first Celebration you attended?

Stewart: The first Celebration we attended was 1994. Gen's Armed and Dangerous won the Stake that year. One of the things that I will always remember was when the trailer pulled up to the show grounds and their barn, they let the ramp down and this gorgeous stallion, Armed and Dangerous, came to the door and slowly looked around at the crowd from one side to the other as if he wanted to be sure all eyes were on him. Once he had surveyed the crowd and was sure we were all looking, he then decided to walk down the ramp.
 
Fowler: Any favorite WGCs of the past that you haven’t personally been connected to?

Stewart: Oh there were several favorites WGC's. Ritz, Out on Parole, and of course Honors. They were just beautiful, talented animals. Brought tears to my eyes..
 
Fowler: What do you miss about Louisiana?

Stewart: Miss many friends and miss the good food — especially crawfish, oysters, gumbo and Creole tomatoes … and the New Orlean’s Saints.
 
Fowler: Describe what it was like to move here.

Stewart: It actually wasn't that challenging. We had module home in Bridlewood that we had been coming to for several years so we had become familiar with the area. After Katrina, the move was a bit of a challenge but we just decided to make this home and do not regret it at all.
 
Fowler: What is something your non-horse friends find interesting about the area or the show?

Stewart: I tell all my non-horse friends about the Celebration and all the one night shows we go to. Several have been here for the Celebration or Spring Fun Show. They appreciate the small-town atmosphere and some of the history. One of the things they find interesting, as do I, is that so many of us are from all across the country … from one end to the other, and we are here because of the horse.
 
Fowler: Any favorite ‘junk” food from the Celebration?

Stewart: The donuts are delicious but I try to limit those. The ice cream bars are usually pretty good also.
 
Fowler: Do you have any other hobbies?

Stewart: No other hobbies but I love a good "spa" day. That is my treat to myself.
 
Fowler: Who is one famous person you’d like to meet and why? Where would you go to dinner?

Stewart:
I guess that would be Dolly Parton. She came from such humble beginnings, had a great talent and made something of her life. In addition, she appears to be a very nice, decent and caring person. If dinner was here at my home, we would serve my husband's gumbo and red beans and rice or barbecue shrimp along with a really nice beef tenderloin. If not at home, would love to dine with her at Commander's Palace in New Orleans.or have a Ruth's Chris Steak. You know Ruth's Chris Steak Restaurant originated in N.O. in a little shack of a house on Broad Street.
 
Fowler: What’s your favorite book and why?

Stewart: The Bible as it gives us history and guides us in our lives … if we follow the teachings. I thought Bill O'Riley's "Killing Jesus" was very interesting, informative, well-written and painfully descriptive of some events.
 
Fowler: Any favorite mottos or things you live by?

Stewart: I have several:
A. Be kind to others … even if you don't particularly like or agree with them. We never know what someone is going through. B. The other is "get off your duff and get to work!"
C.  Hard or difficult times don't last. We all have them but generally can work through them and have brighter, better days ahead.
 
Fowler: How do you feel going into this year’s Celebration?

Stewart: I hope that I am not wrong but I am very optimistic about the future of the Tennessee Walking Horse and believe we will have a great Celebration.
 
Fowler: Anything else you’d like to add?

Stewart: Think how fortunate we are to be enjoying this beautiful horse and to have many good friends that come from all over this country and even abroad to be here … because of the horse. I will always be eternally grateful to a man named O. G. Squires who introduced me to the Walking Horses back when I was 12 or 13.
 

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