by Derick Mann
As stormy weather loomed on the horizon, the Friday evening edition of the 2002 Celebration began promptly at seven o’clock. The arrival of the striking Snow On The Mountain and veteran horseman Bud Seaton signaled the start of the show as they presented the national colors. Jeff W. Smith gave the invocation and the Marchels displayed their vocal talent towards singing a stirring rendition of the national anthem.

Division A of the Owner Amateur Youth Rider on Walking Gelding 11 Years Old and Under entered the ring for the first class of the night. The ever nearing rain clouds held off just long enough for the completion of the class. Judge Rollie Beard started the night off calling the class of eighteen entries. After a brief lineup the judges decided that Lindsey Wall would make the inaugural victory pass of the evening atop Flashy Cash. The Mike Wall family of Oxford, Mississippi owns the entry and was very proud of Lindsey. Reserve honors were then presented to Design’s Masterpiece and Keely Sale for McJunkin Farm. The yellow ribbon was then awarded to Eb’s Final Notice and Treeah Majors for Teera Walker.

Judge Ray Gimer called the nineteen entries in the Division B of the Owner Amateur Youth Rider on Walking Gelding 11 Years Old and Under. Following a brief period of rain during the class, the lineup was called for. When the winning back number was announced it belonged to none other than the talented rider, Lindsey Landrum and her mount This Is It. This was the second year in a row that Landrum has won the class and even more impressive then that, Lindsey had earlier won the Saddle Seat Equitation Walk and Trot 7 & Under championship at the Saddlebred World Grand Championship Show in Louisville, Kentucky. Proud grandparents Bill and Betty Landrum own the winning horse. The reserve title was then presented to Ceclynn Fielder and My Midnight Caller for dad, Cecil Fielder of Melbourne, Florida. Third was I’m Pushin and Tyler Baucom for Eddie Baucom and Dona Griffin.

The exhibitors in the Two-Year-Old Geldings class didn’t let the weather interfere with their performances. Ty Irby was the call judge for the class. Each of the entries showed a lot of talent and promise as well, but only one could wear the blue and that was none other than Grave Danger. Grave Danger, presented by John Allen Callaway, is owned by Charles and Florence Terry of Morristown, Tennessee. San Juan was second with Joe Cotten riding for Eric Lackey. Following up with a third place performance was the team of Just Pushin’ and Herbert Derickson for McDonald Farms.

The Plantation Pleasure Lite Shod class as well as the rain moved in next. The tough competitors and dedicated crowd braved the rough weather that ensued during the class. Sporting his rain coat and hat, Don Milligan called the class. One entry was excused due to a thrown shoe. With back numbers flying across the ring and the rain getting stronger each remaining entry managed to finish the competitive class. Sundrop Country was selected as the class champion with Jeff Givens. The severe weather prevented the team and all other entries from receiving their ribbons or making a victory pass but Dr. Harry and Mary Woodall were still very proud of their Celebration winner. Second in the class went to Star Struck By JFK and Clint Dixon for Red Eagle Farms of Dacula, Georgia. Receiving third was the team of Trish Wooten and Magical Illusionist for Mike and Cheryl Reidy.

An outstanding group of thirty-three entries participated in the Owner Amateur Novice Youth Riders on Novice Mares or Geldings class. Whitehead was the call judge for the class. When the call came across for the workout each rider kicked into high gear as they vied for a chance to park in and lose the title of novice. Seven entries were called to park in first but by the time the judges had picked the final few, fifteen were standing in center ring. Rising to the top of the remaining entries was the team of Redman Uprising and Meagan Batey. Batey and Hayes own the entry. Reserve in the class was then awarded to Collector’s Mr. Twister and Lindsey Cate for Nancy Cate. Third went to Angie’s Star and Melanie Barnett.

One of the most competitive and exciting classes of the night was the Walking Ponies with Riders 17 and Under class. Rollie Beard was the call judge in the class. Twenty-two answered the gate call ready to win. As the exhibitors made the final running walk the audience was on the edge of their seats as they cheered on the competitors. As each rider waited in anticipation for the winning announcement, the call came that Final Keeper and Morgan LeGate would receive the blue. The Gary LeGate family owns the 1999 15.2 & Under Reserve World Grand Champion and the 2002 Walking Pony World Champion. The always popular Busted And Broke and talented rider Tyler Baucom took reserve for Warren and Baucom. The yellow ribbon went to Titan Up and Daniel Potter for Tom Potter.

The next Elite class held during the Celebration was the Gentleman Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings. Gilmer was the officiating judge for the seventeen entry strong class. Pusher’s Special Design and James Vernon scored a win at the Celebration to add to their Fun Show and Pulaski wins. James and Peggy Vernon own the entry. The reserve in the class was then presented to Grandy’s Rhythm Lady and Bob Medina for Mary Medina. Third was then awarded to Pushover’s First Choice and Joe Christmas.

The Four-Year-Old Geldings hit the ring walking next. Fourteen entries were put before the judges’ inspection with judge Irby calling the class. After each team displayed the three gaits of the walking horse, the winning numbers were announced. Jimmy McConnell and Cut-A-Rug took first for Bob and Mary Medina of Skillman, New Jersey. Pushin’ That Jazz and Mike Hilley took reserve for Sarah Dunn. Taking home a yellow ribbon to California was the team of Walking On Thin Ice and Greg Bryant for Legacy Walkers.

Judge Milligan called the Owner Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Mares. The World Grand Champion team of Sunrise Que Sera Sera and skilled rider Candy Butler placed first after a thrilling performance. The gifted mare is part of Glen and Virgie Crutchfield’s awesome show string. Second place was awarded to Major Splash and Sandy Baker for Keith and Sandy Baker. Third was received by Pusher’s Solid Design and Kelly Garrett for Frankie Raby.

Twenty-two competitors went for the blue in the Park Pleasure Amateur Riders 18 & Over class. Whitey Whitehead was the call judge for the class. Each entry gave a good performance before heading to the lineup. The beautiful and talented Fully Armed took the blue in the class with Clint Dixon. Reserve honors were then awarded to The Beaming Skywatch and Doug Barnes. Third tie in the class was Armed Red Baron and Lauren Hamilton.

The first of three anxiously awaited divisions was next. Division A of the Three-Year-Old Stallions was quite a class. Rollie Beard had the duty of calling the class. Twenty-two of the expected twenty-two entries participated in the strong class. Top honors were awarded to Main Power and Joe Cotten. Main Power has tasted success throughout the 2001 and 2002 show seasons in both the amateur and open ranks. Dr. and Mrs Jim Green own the gifted stallion. I’m Mr. Threat placed second with John Allen Callaway for Hidden Acres Farm. Yellow ribbon honors were then awarded to 2001 Two-Year-Old World Champion He’s Outlaw Jose Wales and Kenny Lawrence.

The second division in the Three-Year-Old Stallions was just as exciting as the first. Twenty-three entries were put before call judge Ray Gilmer and the rest of the judging panel. The team of Gen’s Black Gen and Keith Blackburn were awarded the top honors in the class. This win follows their win at the Gulf Coast Charity Show in the Three-Year-Old Extravaganza for owners David and Erin Graf. Reserve went to Wartrace’s Three-Year-Old Stallion champion, Gold Picture. Bill Bobo exhibits the popular entry for Drs. Cliff and Linda Garrard. Third place was then presented to The Total Score and Winky Groover for Cathy McDonald.

The final division of the Three-Year-Old Stallions took the ring next. The talented riders and horses didn’t let the audience down as they put on quite a show to finish out the stallion preliminary. The largest of the three divisions, Division C was called by Judge Irby. First place was obtained by last year’s Two-Year-Old World Grand Champions, The Super Bowl and Joe Cotten. Dr. and Mrs. Rafael Rigual are the proud owners of this gifted stallion. Ritz’s Perfect Touch and Russ Thompson made the long trip from California to claim reserve for Stonegait Farm. Third place was presented to Armed To Show and Larry Edwards for Dan McSwain.

Closing out the Friday evening performance was the Owner Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions. Twenty-two entries made it a big class but the talent displayed made it even bigger. Judge Don Milligan took on the task of calling the class. After the final running walk was over and the cards were marked, A Specialist and Susan Gordon were awarded first. The reigning Owner Amateur World Grand Champion is owned by the Arthur Gordon family and hails from Orange, California. The flashy and always entertaining team of Electrifying and Dona Grifin took reserve in the fine class. Silver Express and Lisa Marbry finished out the top three.

Friday night was an unforgettable night for exhibitors, owners, and spectators. Not even rain, wind, and lightning could deter the loyal walking horse enthusiasts from participating and watching the evening show. It certainly takes a great breed of horse to draw such dedicated fans. Tomorrow night, a look at the year’s top aged stallions and a possible preview of who could wear the roses at the close of the 2002 National Celebration.