By Mark McGee

Most everyone in the center ring in “The Big Oval” was dressed for foul weather. In an attempt not to run afoul of Tropical Storm Ida, Celebration officials decided earlier in the day to begin classes at 5 p.m.. rather than the usual 7 p.m.

Rain is as much as a tradition at The Celebration as the white flag horse, the crowning of World Grand Championships and hot Optimist doughnuts. The 83rd edition of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration carried on that tradition with a steady light rain falling most of the evening.

Ronnie Spears and White Diamond Dollar presented the “Stars and Stripes”, while Ron Dewitt of the First Church of the Nazarene gave the invocation. Gary Haile then presented an inspirational rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

Stallions, young and old and in between were featured in five of the 13 classes but mares and geldings weren’t left out with five classes.

When ring announcer Mark Farrar made the gate call for the first class of the night seven of nine listed entries were on hand for the Owner-Amateur Gentlemen Fine Harness with Brent Grider as the call judge. Call My Lawyer and Jack Davis from Pell City, Alabama, got the verdict they wanted with a world championship ride. It was their first blue of 2021. In Ted’s Image and Ron Lawrence were second, while Mister October CTF and John Fikes drove out with a yellow ribbon for Fikes and Mills.

The Owner-Amateur Ponies Mares & Geldings attracted nine of the original 14 entries for call judge David Sisk. Knock On Wood JC captured the world championship with Brandon Klein riding for Sydney Klein from Kaufman, Texas. It was the fifth blue for Knock On Wood this season, the first with Brandon riding. Anthony Davis and Jayden Jackson left the ring with a red streamer. Kenny Compton was in the saddle as Honorable Texan was third for Della Compton.

Six of 10 program entries competed in the Aged Mares (Canter) class. Dale Watts called the class. Me And Pocahontas won the world championship unanimously with Tyler Baucom in the saddle for Allyson Armstrong from Hickory, North Carolina. It was the fourth blue in five shows for Me And Pocahontas and the third time Baucom has ridden her to a world championship with Celebration wins in 2019 and 2018. She’s Salsarita was a spicy reserve with Dickie Scrivner on board for Pam Williams. John Allan Callaway rode Nevermore to a third-place tie. 

Chris Bobo served as the call judge as 10 of 14 listed entries entered the ring for the Owner-Amateur Five-Year-Old Stallions. As I Am and Jason Myatt made the world championship ride for The Jerry Myatt Family from Shelbyville, Tennessee, as the unanimous choice of the five-judge panel. It was the third blue in four shows this season for the duo. Ole Rocky Top placed reserve with Lilly Riddley in the saddle for The Alan Riddley Family. The Night King and Jeff V. Smith left the ring with a yellow ribbon. 

Division A of the Two-Year-Old Stallions class featured 12 of the 27 programmed entries for call judge Derek Bonner. Broadway Honors, the unanimous selection of the judges, was the star of the class with a world champion performance with Tyler Baucom in the irons for Keith and Lorraine Rosbury from Bell Buckle, Tennessee. The team is unbeaten in four shows in 2021. Heads Up Jose and Sam Martin took home a red streamer for David and Libby Doub. Honor Of The Ritz tied third with Nick Plafcan on board for Alan Riddley and Lavon Tyson.

The Two-Year-Old Trail Pleasure class counted 13 of 21 entries in the ring for call judge David Sisk. The Maiden and Laurie Toone earned the world championship unanimously for owner Dale Steinmetz of Louisville, Kentucky. They are undefeated in three shows this season. The Tiger Lily tied second with Hannah Myatt in the saddle for Jordan Howell and Southridge Farm. Margarita Cash was ridden to third by David Mast for Gary and Karen Doss. 

The Two-Year-Old Stallions, Division B saw only 13 of 31 program entries make the gate call. Brent Grider called the class. Born A Maverick and Bill Callaway were awarded the world championship for Bob Adcock from Lititz, Pennsylvania. McIlroy MCF was ridden to reserve by Tyler Baucom for Keith and Lorraine Rosbury. Finally I Am tied third with Sam Martin in the stirrups for the Thomas and Grant partnership. 

With some horses multiple entered, nine of the 23 programmed entries rode for the blue in the 15.2 & Under Stallions class. The call judge was Dale Watts. Knock Down Drag Out walked out of the ring with the world championship with Tyler Baucom riding for Joe Manis of Laurinburg, North Carolina. It was the third world championship of the night for Baucom. He’s Made In The USA tied second with Bill Callaway in the irons for Gayle Holcomb and Nick Masters. Mr. Southern Comfort and Cody Wofford left with a third-place ribbon for Maureen Kesselring. 

Chris Bobo was the call judge with 15 of 25 scheduled entries working in the Owner-Amateur Gentlemen Show Pleasure class. Airborne Hero flew to the world championship with Ben Kail making the winning ride for The Ben Kail Family from Alamo, Tennessee. Airborne Hero has three blue with three different riders for 2021. The Night Crawler and Jason Joseph took home a red streamer for co-owners Sister Milligan and Jocelyn Laughlin. Georgia Florida Line and Bruce MacDonald tied third.

Nine of 23 entries answered the gate call for the Elite Owner-Amateur Ladies on Stallions class. Derek Bonner served as the call judge. Karen Bean of Tomball, Texas, directed My Shockwave to the world championship. My Shockwave has five blues in 2021, two with Bean on board. The Iron Door and Sarah Coffee Burks tied reserve. We Will Rock You rocked third place with Chris Hutchinson riding for co-owner Dr. Edwin Hutchinson. 

The Owner-Amateur Three-Year-Old Mares & Geldings, Division A drew 17 of 22 listed entries for call judge David Sisk. The Mandalorian battled to the world championship for with Dee Broom Yoder of Ooltewah, Tennessee. It was the third top honor for the duo this show season. He’s Ballistic received a red ribbon with Dr. David Bullock, while RBG left the ring with a yellow streamer with Daila Smith-Harr riding for Molly Smith. 

With the rain continuing to fall and a cool breeze giving a fall feel to the arena, 11 of 28 planned entries competed in the Owner-Amateur Mares & Geldings class. Brent Grider was the call judge. Robert Deutsch, from Greensboro, North Carolina, and Zeta walked away with unanimous world championship honors, the fourth world title in a row in the class dating back to 2018. They are undefeated in seven shows this season and have 14 blues in a row since 2019. Flying High CC and Sheryl Crawford tied second, while A Neon Cowboy won a yellow ribbon with Brian Nichols riding for Glenda Nichols.

Dale Watts was the call judge in the Owner-Amateur Three-Year-Old Mares & Geldings, Division B class, as 12 of 22 scheduled entries closed out the evening. My Honey Bee stung the competition as the unanimous pick of the judges with Lorie Riddley riding for The Alan Riddley Family from Kings Mountain, North Carolina. It was the second world championship this year for My Honey Bee. Josh Wright rode to top honors Saturday in the Division B for Three-Year-Old Mares. Kelly Manis and Lady Elle were reserve, while Gin’s Lucky Penny shined in third with Jannie Chapman.