By Mark McGee

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – From the time Ronnie Spears and White Diamond Dollar entered the ring carrying the American Flag it was obvious that while it was the second night of world grand championship classes at the 83rd annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, the night was more than about great horses.

It was a night to honor active-duty military, veterans and first responders with special recognition as well as to honor Woody Williams Foundation Gold Star families who have lost loved ones during their time in military service. Those present were the guests of The Celebration with a free ticket, free parking and free drink tickets. Announcer Mark Farrar emphasized the special importance of the flag presentation. The theme carried through by Dan Asche from First Christian Church who gave the invocation. Adding to the patriotic theme was provided by the four-part harmony of The Cavaliers from Shelbyville, Tennessee.

Exhibitors were asked to pick out a fallen veteran to honor with their performances on the special night of recognition. Fans were asked to wear red, white and blue and many responded to the request. Gold Star family members presented special ribbons to winners in honor of those they lost. 

Before class 167 each branch of the service was honored as military Humvees carried the respective flags around “The Big Oval” with veterans present asked to stand. All first responders were also recognized. The ceremony was capped with a riderless horse with stirrups turned backwards being led around the ring to honor fallen veterans and first responders who have made the ultimate sacrifice. 

A special ceremony was held to retire two back numbers. Number 923 was worn by John Allan Callaway when he rode Master’s Razzle And Jazz to the 2020 World Grand Championship. Rodney Dick accepted the retired number 826 he wore in 2019 aboard I’m Mayhem when they won the world grand championship. 

Youth Riders were a major part the 14-class schedule with five classes. Trail pleasure and country pleasure were featured in three classes with fine harness, classes for ponies and the four-year-old finale filling out the schedule.
All nine entries in the Owner-Amateur Fine Harness World Grand Championship were present and accounted for with Dale Watts calling the class. In Ted’s Image won the title for the second year in a row with Ron Lawrence from Lenoir City, Tennessee, driving. In Ted’s Image won the Fine Harness World Championship Wednesday night with Bill Callaway driving. Lawrence and Callaway have driven In Ted’s Image to blues in eight classes in 2021. Call My Lawyer made a case for reserve honors with Jack Davis. Lt. Horatio Caine tied third with Alex Blackburn driving for Stacy Blackburn.

All 10 listed entries made the gate call for the Owner-Amateur Ponies World Grand Championship. The spinning wheel picked Brent Grider to call the class. Strike and Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tennessee, rode out with the tri-colored ribbon and floral horseshoe. It was their fifth blue ribbon this year including the world championship in the Owner-Amateur Pony Stallions class the first Thursday night of The Celebration. Win Dixie placed second with Gail Walling, while Dark Rain walked out with a yellow streamer with Taylor Walters riding for Stewart and Walters. 

Five of the six programmed entries competed in the Owner-Amateur Three & Under Country Pleasure World Grand Championship. It took him 24 years, but Andy Stooksberry made the spotlight ride aboard Sabotage, the unanimous choice of the five-judge panel. They have seven blues this year and three in row. Thursday morning they won the world championship in the Owner-Amateur Three-Year-Old Country Pleasure class. Stooksberry, from Shelbyville, Tennessee, and Phyllis Langley from Scottsdale, Arizona, are co-owners. 401K paid off for Eli Murphy with the second-place tie for co-owners Brandon Tate and Laurie Toone. Royalina placed third with Beverly Boggs aboard for co-owner Tammy Hubbard.

When the gate closed 18 of 20 entries were ready for the Owner-Amateur Youth 12-17 World Grand Championship. Making the spotlight ride were My Hometown Girl and Luke Callicutt riding for John Callicutt from Seagrove, North Carolina. It was the third consecutive blue and fifth for the duo in 2021. They won the world championship in the Owner-Amateur Youth 12-14 class Sunday night. A Superbowl MVP and BiBi Beasley rode to reserve for Beth Beasley. Punisher left the ring carrying a third place with Counti Green riding for co-owner Barbara Smith.

Thirteen of 14 scheduled entries entered the ring for the Susan Gordon Owner-Amateur World Grand Championship, where Chris Bobo called the gaits. Gin Toddy and Sue Irby from Shelbyville, Tennessee, won the floral horseshoe and tri-colored ribbon. They have a perfect record in blues in five shows this year. They won the Owner-Amateur 15.2 & Under Mares & Geldings World Championship Tuesday evening. Cash Agenda placed second with Jimbo Conner riding for co-owner Kyle Hicks. I’m The Alamo placed third with Lynn Hickok aboard for Ridgemont Farm.

All seven entries in the Three & Under Trail Pleasure World Grand Championship were in the ring for call judge Dale Watts. This was a new world grand championship class at The Celebration. The first-ever winner in this inaugural class was The Maiden with Laurie Toone in the saddle for Dale Steinmetz from Louisville, Kentucky. They were the unanimous selection of the judges. The Maiden is undefeated in four shows. Friday morning Steinmetz was the world champion in the Owner-Amateur Two-Year-Old Trail Pleasure class. Toone won the world championship Monday night on The Maiden in the Two-Year-Old Trail Pleasure class. Capistrano walked away with reserve honors with Joe Lester in the stirrups for Kimberly and Perry Walden. Bombay Sapphire PVF shined in third with Hannah Myatt riding for The Andy Rippy Family. 

The Owner-Amateur 15.2 & Under World Grand Championship featured the eight programmed entries for call judge Brent Grider. Marty McFly was ridden to the title for the third year in a row by Janice Fostek riding for Joe Fostek from Roanoke, Virginia. All five judges tied the duo first in the class. They retired the Steve Hill Memorial Challenge Trophy and the Larry Lowman Memorial Challenge Trophy. The duo is undefeated for the past two years with five wins in 2021 and four in 2020. They won the world championship in the Owner-Amateur 15.2 & Under Stallions class the first Thursday night of The Celebration. Mr. Southern Comfort and Kailin Kesselring were awarded reserve honors for Maureen Kesselring. He's Made In The USA took home a yellow streamer with Gayle Holcomb aboard for co-owner Nick Masters.

All 16 listed entries competed in the Owner-Amateur Youth 6-11 World Grand Championship. Dale Watts called the class. Extra Special Jose’ lived up to her name winning the world grand championship for the third year in a row with Emma Wright of Reagan, Tennessee, aboard for co-owners Sammy and Gayle Cagle from Lexington, Tennessee. They retired three of the four challenge trophies offered in the class. The duo is undefeated for the past three years with four wins in 2021, four in 2020 and five in 2019. They won the Owner-Amateur Youth 6-11 Mares World Championship the first night of The Celebration. Second in the class went to Miss Ebony Rose with John Winston Clark riding for The Clark Family and Sudie Reed. Winning third was Cole Haan and Ally Jo Jacobs.

The Owner-Amateur Lite-Shod World Grand Championship welcomed seven of the nine program entries. Dale Watts served as the call judge. Roscoe Jenkins and Susan Coleman from Unionville, Tennessee, are no strangers to the spotlight ride winning this title for the sixth time in the last seven years, including the past two. The duo is undefeated for the past two years with four wins in 2021 and four in 2020. They won the Owner-Amateur English Lite-Shod World Championship Wednesday morning. Big Time Bandit and Lisa Baum were reserve, while Moonshine At Midnight was ridden to third by Darden Gladney for Gladney Farms.

It was perfect attendance in the Owner-Amateur Youth Ponies World Grand Championship with all nine of the scheduled entries making the gate call. Derek Bonner called the gaits. Skywalk’s Threat and Alex Luttrell from Alvaton, Kentucky, took the spotlight ride. Skywalk’s Threat is unbeaten in six shows in 2021 with Luttrell riding in five of them including the Owner-Amateur Youth 6-14 Pony World Championship the first Saturday night of The Celebration. Versace’s Dollar, a “Classic” horse, earned reserve with K.J. Compton in the stirrups for Rick Compton. The Ultimate Honor and Colton Trimble rode to third for co-owner Emilee Graves.

Derek Bonner was once again selected as the call judge with 12 of 13 programmed entries in the big oval for the Owner-Amateur Youth Show Pleasure World Grand Championship. Nip Of Gin and Kaitlyn Peeler carried the floral horseshoe and the tri-colored ribbon home to Laurinburg, North Carolina. Nip Of Gin has five blues this year, four with Peeler riding including the world championship in the Owner-Amateur Youth 12-17 Show Pleasure class Saturday morning. Annie’s Lined With Cash placed reserve with Khloe Aymett McSwain, while Benelli and Jackson Cammack rode to third for co-owner Liz Vaughn.  

Fourteen entries were listed with 13 showing in the Owner-Amateur Three-Year-Old World Grand Championship. David Sisk called the class. Glory JC and  Jannie Chapman form Owens Cross Roads, Alabama, made the spotlight ride. It was their fourth blue in a row. They won Division A of the Owner-Amateur Three-Year-Old Stallions class Tuesday night. Captain Woodrow F. Call was second with Jimbo Conner riding for co-owner Brian Jeffers. Ozark and April Jeffers rode out with a yellow streamer for co-owner Brian Jeffers. 

Dale Watts was the call judge with six of seven scheduled entries who made their way in the ring for the Owner-Amateur Youth Trail Pleasure World Grand Championship. Luciano and Caroline Sells made their first ever spotlight ride for owners The John Sells Family and Lindy Holt of Franklin, Tennessee. Luciano has six blues this year, five with Sells in the saddle. They won the Owner-Amateur Youth 12-17 Western Trail Pleasure class the first Friday of The Celebration. Labeled A Parolee was also labeled the reserve grand champion with Eliza Dekleyn, while Jazz & Everything was third with Shane Smith aboard for The Collins Family. 

The final class on Friday evening was the Four-Year-Old World Grand Championship where five of the seven programmed were put through the gaits. Calling the class was Chris Bobo. Mr. Magnifico was ridden to the title by Link Webb for owners Case, Barnes and Kilgore of Madison, Alabama, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Mr. Magnifico was the Three-Year-Old World Grand Champion and the Two-Year-Old World Grand Champion with Herbert Derickson aboard. Tua MCF was reserve with Tyler Baucom aboard for Keith and Lorraine Rosbury, while Team Six Boots was ridden to a third-place ribbon by Jimmy McConnell for Mike Floyd.