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Amateurs Highlight Exciting Thursday Night

By Mark Davis

Yes, oh yes!  It’s Thursday night in Shelbyville.  Where else would any horse lover want to be beside in the historic outdoor arena where champions have been crowned for more than half a century, where the best of the best come to work for World Championship acclaim and where fans from across the country come to watch and cheer on their favorites.  It’s a place like no other and it’s time for the horse show that is like no other to officially get underway.

Officially, there have already been two sessions of champions crowned on Wednesday and Thursday morning, but for the diehard Celebration fans, the show really doesn’t get underway until Thursday night when the white horse heads down the hill with the American flag.  Yes, that’s when it truly is horse show time in Tennessee!

One could tell that the time was drawing near to 7 pm as the 70th annual Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration judges, which include Rollie Beard of Lewisburg, Tenn., Nathan Clark of Arab, Ala., Jamie Hankins of Paris, Ky., Tommy Howell of Shelbyville, Tenn., and Mack Motes of Eagleville, Tenn. came into center ring.

As tradition holds, promptly at 7 pm, official flag horse Counterfeit Dollar and Bud Seaton headed down the hill for the big oval.  The invocation for the evening was given by Ron Dewitt, pastor of First Church of the Nazarene of Shelbyville, Tenn., followed by the singing of the national anthem by Wayne Bomar of Shelbyville, Tenn.

As Bud and Counterfeit Dollar headed back up the track it was time for announcer Chip Walters to call for the first class of the evening performance, class 22, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 on Walking Mares.  Fifteen of the 20 programmed entries made their way down the hill to work for their chance to make that hallowed ride down victory lane in Shelbyville!  Judge Nathan Clark called the gaits in the event.  Making that memorable ride was the team of Express’s Frosty Girl and Maria Perry riding for Perry and Brown of Ethridge and Columbia, Tenn.  This outstanding win was preceded by wins at the South Alabama Charity Horse Show, Alabama Ladies Auxiliary Horse Show, Petersburg, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show, Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Liberty Lions Club Horse Show and Pulaski, Tenn.’s Red Carpet Horse Show of the South.   Driving away with the reserve honors was Driving Miss Dumas and Lake Weaver in the irons for Larry and Terry Lowman and Kristy Weaver of Shelbyville, Tenn.  She’s High Falutin and Emilee Graves was third for Graves and Hudson of Bell Buckle and Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Express's Frosty Girl and Maria Perry received the first blue of the Thursday evening performance.

The gentlemen riders were up for class 23, Elite Owner-Amateur Gentleman Riders on Walking Stallions.  For those not familiar with the Elite division, it is the division at The Celebration exclusively for riders age 50 and over.  This event featured 19 of the 30 on the sheets working hard under the watchful eye of Call Judge Jamie Hankins and his cohorts.  Dominating the division and gaining the approval of all five judges and the crowd, Kid Callahan and Ed Breedlove repeated their 2007 win and walked away with the win once again in the deep division for Genevieve Breedlove of Buford, Ga.  This win extended a 2008 resume which included blues from Panama City Beach, Fla.’s Gulf Coast Charity Celebration, Woodbury, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show and Belfast, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show.  Laying down all they had, All In and Mike Inman were a strong reserve for Mike and Karen Inman of Marietta, Ga.  Watch It Now and William Johnson were third for Waterfall Farms of Shelbyville, Tenn.

The trainers made their first appearance of the evening in class 24, Three-Year-Old Walking Geldings, with 23 of the 36 entered punching their ticket in the event.  Judge Tommy Howell led the panel as Call Judge.  Taking command of the class was Ritz In Command and Rodney Dick up, champions at Dickson, Tenn.’s Dickson County Horse Show, for Jay and Barbara Kenehan of Flat Creek, Tenn.  Spin My Money and Tim Gray pulled in to accept the red streamers for Sandy Shumate of Atlanta, Ga., and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Joel Weaver and Hickory’s Sinatra garnered the yellow streamers for Wallace and Laura Brandon of Franklin, Tenn.

Class 25A featured the Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Walking Stallions with 28 of the 41 on the entry sheets coming down to work for Judge Mack Motes and his cohorts.  There was certainly some deep water and some talented young horses in this extra large class, but that didn’t cause the judges or the fans any problems selecting their favorite as The Dixie Lineman and Gail Walling, 2008 champions at the Gulf Coast Charity Celebration, Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Central High School Band Horse Show, the Spring Fun Show, the Liberty Lions Club Horse Show and the Tony Rice Horse Show, rode happily to the top of the class, with a unanimous decision of the judging panel and a big round of applause from the fans, for McDonald and Walling of Wartrace, Tenn.  Fear Or No Fear and Becky Kidd – Day rode into the second position in the class for Austin Hass of Bell Buckle, Tenn.  Lee Wall and He’s Slim Shady picked up the third award for Lee Wall and Mike McGartland of Jackson, Miss., and Fort Worth, Texas.

Jordan Kidd waited for her mom, Becky Kidd-Day, to enter the ring before releasing the Fear Or No Fear balloons.

Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Walking Stallions, Class 25B, featured just as tough of competition with 24 of the 38 expected taking to the rail to show off their very best for Judge Rollie Beard and his experienced panel.  Riding away with the win in the split were Tommy Lee Jones and Clay Mills riding for Corbin Mills of Mt. Airy, N.C.  This win, coupled with Mills win in 2007 with The New York Yankee, he retires The Mary and John C. Miller Memorial Challenge Trophy.  This win tops off an outstanding 2008 season where the duo had wins at the National Trainers’ Show, Albemarle, N.C.’s Stanly County Horse Show, White Pine, Tenn.’s East Tennessee Classic, Asheville, N.C.’s Land-O- Sky Summer Festival, Tazewell, Va.’s Tazewell County Classic and Fayetteville, Tenn.’s Blue Ribbon Horse Show.  Showing off their style as they walked away with the red streamers were Beverly Hills Ritz and Julie Tucker in the irons for The Tommy Grider Family of Columbia, Ky.  Exclusive Jazz and Brad Spivey accepted the yellow streamers for Jake Spivey of Morristown, Tenn.

The young riders were back for class 26, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 15-17 Years on Walking Mares or Geldings.  Twenty of the 24 expected hit the track to work hard for their chance to ride before the enthusiastic Thursday night crowd with that coveted blue.  Judge Nathan Clark led the panel in the class.  Riding to the winner’s circle to have their picture made under the spotlight was the team of FDR and Amy Nesius, 2008 champions at the South Alabama Charity Horse Show, the National Trainers’ Show, the Spring Fun Show, Lynchburg, Tenn.’s Moore County Horse Show and Pulaski, Tenn.’s Red Carpet Horse Show of the South, riding for The Rick Nesius Family of Chapel Hill, Tenn.  Watch N Bedazzled and Mary Morrison pulled into the second position for Andrew Morrison of Hattiesburg, Miss.  Caleb Kilburn and Main Majorette were third taking the streamers back to the Bluegrass state for Salt Lick Farm of Salt Lick, Ky.

FDR and Amy Nesius had a flawless ride and captured the World Championship title of Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 15-17 Years on Walking Mares or Geldings.

The professional trainers were back in the big oval for class 27A, Three-Year-Old Walking Mares with 22 of the 36 entered taking to the rail as Judge Jamie Hankins called the gaits in the split.  Proving to be major trouble for the competition, Nine Yards Of Major Trouble and trainer Mickey McCormick were impressive as they topped the division for Harbert and Nora Alexander of Jackson, Tenn.  I’m Dangerous With Cash and Justin Harris were reserve for Richard and Gail Greer and Norma Bledsoe-Beal of Lenoir, N.C., and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Jimmy McConnell and A Major In Business picked up the golden streamers for Leon and Clara Jean Forrester of Martin, Tenn.

Class 27B featured 27 more outstanding Three-Year-Old Walking Mares walking hard for their opportunity at Celebration acclaim.  Judge Tommy Howell served as Call Judge for the split.  Topping this section was the reigning Two-Year-Old Mare World Champion Jose’s Ritzy Doll and John Allan Callaway in the irons for C & C Stables of Lawrenceville, Ga.  This duo picked up 2008 wins at Columbia, Tenn.’s Spring Jubilee and Woodbury, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show.  Link Webb and Jose’s Dulce rode into the second position for Bob Ramsbottom of Norris, Tenn.  Patriot’s American Maid and Blake Sims scored third for The Mike Chiappari Family of Santa Rosa, Calif., and Bell Buckle, Tenn.

Adding a little variety to the evening’s schedule, the Park Performance entries were up next on the schedule for class 28, Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Performance Walking Mares or Geldings.  Twenty-seven of the 38 programmed entries beat the clock to have their chance to work for World Championship acclaim in the class as Judge Mack Motes led the judging panel.  Making that memorable victory pass and taking honors back to the land of the Carolina Tarheel was Eric Lackey and San Juan making the winning performance for Mr. & Mrs. Eric Lackey of High Point, N.C.  The High Maintenance Lady and Gloria Dixon picked up the red streamers in the large class for Randall and Gloria Dixon/Red Eagle Farms of Dacula, Ga.  Cynthia Wright and All American Ritz accepted the golden ribbon carrying it home to Jackson, Tenn.

Up next on the schedule, class 29 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions, 15.2 and Under to the ring and it promised to be an exciting event with 21 of the 46 with reservations making the gate call and the competition certainly was deep with numerous past World Champions and World Grand Champions, at least a half dozen at this reporter’s count, working for that one Celebration blue in the section.  Judge Rollie Beard served as Call Judge in this class.  Riding to the top of this outstanding class was the big walking Texas Joe Black and Kathy Zeis up for Steve and Kathy Zeis of Douglasville, Ga.  Another striking grey and another Georgia team, Greyline and Koni Tidwell stopped in for the reserve honors for Joey Tidwell of Rockmart, Ga.  Headed back to Middle Tennessee, The Phantom Menace and Thom Meek were third for Deerwood Manor of Brentwood, Tenn.

Kathy Zies topped an outstanding field of entries to claim the blue.

Class 30A brought the Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Geldings to the historic Celebration oval with 16 of the 27 expected beating the clock and getting their chance to show off for the Thursday night crowd that was holding on strong even as the time passed 10:30 pm.  Judge Nathan Clark led the panel in this section.  Carrying the blue back home to the land of the Blue Mist, with a unanimous decision of the panel, by the way, Pushin’ That Jazz and Dalia Smith put on a stellar performance to garner the win for Molly and Annabelle Smith of Manchester, Ky.  This win highlighted a 2008 season where the team has been undefeated and picked up wins at the National Trainers’ Show, Gallatin, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show, Asheville, N.C.’s Land-O-The-Sky Summer Festival and the Wartrace, Tenn. Horse Show.  New York New York and Terry Lowman pulled in for the second award for Larry and Terry Lowman and Kristy Weaver of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Rita Hudgens and Downtown Pusher rode away with the golden streamers for Baskin and Hudgens of Franklin, Tenn.

Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Geldings, Class 30B, featured 14 of the 27 programmed entries making their way down the hill as Judge Jamie Hankins called the gaits in the split.  Topping this section was a favorite of the judges and the crowd, Copy’s Touchtone and owner/exhibitor Megan Peebles of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Another local team, Bold Vengeance and Heather Beard, were in the second position for Judy McDonald of Tullahoma, Tenn.  The Raffle and Amanda Wilkerson were third for The Jim Wilkerson Family of Maryville, Tenn.

Robin McDonald was one of the biggest fans for Megan Peebles and Copy's Touchtone.

Staying in the Amateur division, class 31A highlighted the Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Stallions with 19 of the 26 with reservations working under the watchful eye of Judge Tommy Howell and his cohorts.  Knocking it out of the park with an outstanding performance to top the division was Dimaggio, the reigning Three-Year-Old World Grand Champion, and owner/exhibitor Alexandria Holland of Decatur, Ala.  This win extended a strong resume that included wins at the Walking Horse Association Of Alabama’s Summer Classic, the Arab, Ala., Parks & Recreation Horse Show and Lewisburg, Tenn.’s Marshall County Horse Show.  Another Alabama entry, Absolute Proof and Meg Young were the popular reserve for Ricky Young of Boaz, Ala.  Keeping it all in the land of the Crimson Tide, Roll The Gold and Spud Warr collected the yellow streamers for Warr Development of Phenix City, Ala. 

Alexandria Holland and DiMaggio were in top form tonight as they added the title of World Champions to their resume.

Class 31B featured another outstanding section of exhibitors in the Owner/Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Stallions with another 19 making their way down from the warm up ring to work for Judge Mack Motes and his colleagues.  Well, there’s not any sun in Shelbyville at 11:35 pm, but that didn’t stop reigning Three-Year-Old Amateur Stallion World Champions, Sandra Johnson and Palm Beach Ritz from showing their very best scoring the win for Sandra Johnson of Atlanta, Ga., and Shelbyville, Tenn.  This win was preceded by victories at Gallatin, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show, Woodbury, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show and Pulaski, Tenn.’s Red Carpet Horse Show Of The South.  Pulling in a strong reserve and a round of applause was I’m NRA and David Sisk riding for Dr. & Mrs. Andrew Sisk of Columbia, Tenn.  Trouble On The Line and Tom Morgan were third for Dr. Amy McCurdy of Piedmont, Ala.

The professional trainers were back in the ring for the final time of the evening in class 32, Walking Geldings, 15.2 and Under (Canter).  Thirteen of the 21 on the books worked the track for the judging panel, led by Call Judge Rollie Beard, and the Celebration diehards who remained on hand as the time approached Midnight to cheer on their favorites.  Now, the real diehards will be those who are back on hand for Friday Morning’s 9 am performance!  As former Celebration announcer Bobby Sands would say, we’ll be taking names and see who the REAL diehards are!  Topping the division were Cheatin’ Danger and Joe Cotten riding for Trish Harrison and the Four Centuries Farm of Greeneville, Tenn.  Jazz Man’s Echo and Herbert Derickson were in the second position for J & M Farms of Baileyton, Ala., while Tony Montana and Link Webb accepted third for Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn.

What was to be the final class of the evening, class 33, Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Show Pleasure Walking Horses, had such a large number of entries check in that it was split prior to entering the ring.  The A division featured 16 teams working for that Celebration blue as Judge Nathan Clark called the gaits.  Capturing the win in the A division with a unanimous decision of the panel it was Zulu and Suzanne Moore in the irons for Bud and Suzanne Moore of Catherine, Ala.  I’m Armed & Lethal and Carolyn Rutner rode to the reserve honors and took those honors home to Northport, Ala.  Patti Pollack and Hawk’s True Love were third for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.

Class 33B, Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Show Pleasure Walking Horses featured 15 duos working for their chance at taking home a blue from the 70th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.  Judge Rollie Beard served as Call Judge for the final event of the evening.  Topping this division were the reigning Show Pleasure World Grand Champions, Coin’s Black Stroke and Jean O’Brien showing for Reggie Pimental of Bell Buckle, Tenn.  Yvonna Mathis and I’m An Evil Rebel were a good reserve for John Weihl & Yvonna Mathis of Kings Mountain, N.C.  Midnight At The Ritz and Debbie Eichler were third for Rising Star Ranch of Shelbyville, Tenn.

Yes, it might have lasted a little late, but it certainly was one exciting night of competition with 336 horses shown in 17 classes to get the 70th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration underway.  Make plans now to be here as the excitement continues on Friday night when the show is highlighted by the Youth Riders 11 and Under on Walking Geldings, the Three Year Old Stallions and the Youth Riders on Walking Ponies and then on Saturday night, we’ll get our first look at the Aged Stallions that will be looking to be our 2008 World Grand Champion.  Yes, yes, the excitement will continue and you won’t want to miss a minute.

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