By Mark Davis
For some, Sunday might be a day of rest, but it’s an active day around The Celebration grounds. The morning Worship Service, the Celebration Dog Show and the Stable Judging contest all make up the day’s activities. Of course, the 73rd Annual Celebration evening session continued, as normal, promptly at 7:00 p.m.

The evening’s program features 14 classes highlighted by the Junior Stallions, the Aged Mares Over 15.2 and several Youth classes, making up what should be a great night of competition.

The judges for the 73rd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Jennifer Bingham of Shelbyville, Tenn., Jamie Bradshaw of Union Grove, Ala., Jamie Hankins of Paris, Ky., Ronnie Spears of Tullahoma, Tenn., & Jeff Willis of Shelbyville, Tenn.

The invocation for the evening was given by Rev. Bob Stegall of First Christian Church, Shelbyville, Tenn., followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Jennifer Vannatta-Hall of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

And, with that, it was time to call the first class of the evening, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-14 Years on Walking Mares or Geldings to the track with 10 of the 23 programmed entries making the call to work for Judge Jeff Willis and his panel. As the action got underway, official organist Larry Bright opened with the same song that he has every Sunday night for his 28 year run, Just A Closer Walk With Thee, setting the appropriate tone for the evening. Setting the completion on fire in the division was A Fire In Dixie and owner/exhibitor Robert Cortner taking the honors home to Winchester, Tenn. This duo had already had a very good 2011 with wins at the National Trainers’ Show, the Mississippi Charity Horse Show, the White County Classic, and the WHAA Summer Classic. I’m Superbad and Kelsi York were reserve for Kris York of Crocker, Mo. Miss Mojito and Alex Blackburn were third for proud grandmother, Gail McConnell of Union City, Tenn.

The pleasure horses made their first appearance of the night in class 82, Owner-Amateur Classic Park Pleasure Walking Horses. Fourteen of the 16 expected made the gate call to work as Judge Jennifer Bingham called the gaits in the class. Headed down victory lane with a unanimous decision of the panel were She’s Up For Parole and Ashley Shelton riding for Carole Hargett of Shelbyville, Tenn. This was this talented horse’s ninth blue ribbon of the 2011 season. Simple Lee Dangerous and owner/exhibitor Katie West took the second award home to Morristown, Tenn. Caterpillar and Liz Gassaway rounded out the top three for Liz Gassaway & John Dicken of Shelbyville & Memphis, Tenn.

The performance horses were back for class 83, Elite Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings with 14 of the 32 on the books beating the clock to work for Judge Jamie Bradshaw and his cohorts. Striking fear into the competition and riding away with the win with a unanimous decision of the panel was the team of Terror On The Border and owner/exhibitor Nancy Groover, taking the honors back to Waco, Texas. Jose’s Miss Dolly & Jean O’Brien collected the red streamers for Larry McLaughlin & Jean O’Brien of Effingham, S.C., & Bell Buckle, Tenn. Gettin’ Out On Parole and Gail Walling was third for Judy McDonald of Tullahoma, Tenn.

The young riders made their second appearance of the night in class 84, Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings. Eleven of the 18 with reservations worked to the rail to work for their shot at their very first Celebration blue tonight as Judge Jamie Hankins served as Call Judge for the class, as organist Larry Bright kept everyone in a youthful frame of mind as he played “Hokey Pokey” on the keyboard. Riding out of the Novice division tonight with a unanimous decision of the panel was Bailey McCormick with Really, riding for mom, Dru McCormick of Shelbyville, Tenn. Sister Morgan McCormick picked up a win earlier in the week in the Youth Show Pleasure division with He’s Trouble, so it’s been a good week in the McCormick house. Ms. Poteet and Keely Morrow was reserve riding for Yates & Link Families of Franklin, Ky. Vegas Ritz and Caitlin Winburn carried the yellow streamers back to East Tennessee for Julia Livingston of Church Hill, Tenn.

Staying in the Novice division, class 85A brought the Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Show Pleasure Walking Horses to the track with 13 of the 20 expected beating the clock to work for Judge Ronnie Spears and his staff. A novice no more, it was the team of Turnbow and Marguerite Sims making the winning ride for mom, Lynn Womack of Murfreesboro, Tenn. A Rendezvous At The Ritz and Roxy Reeves stayed novices for another day, picking up the red ribbon for Woody & Carolyn Spinks of Gardendale, Ala. Command At Sunrise and owner/exhibitor Ashlyn Avent of Bell Buckle, Tenn., were third in the class.

Class 85B, Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Show Pleasure Walking Horses, brought 15 of the 19 expected to the historic big oval to work as Judge Jeff Willis called the gaits in the class. Novice’s no more, Limestone Lucy and Steve Heitmiller made that memorable ride down victory lane tonight taking honors back to Laguna Beach, Calif. Pearl Gunn and owner/exhibitor Sally Fleck of Shelbyville, Tenn., pulled in for the reserve honors. Buster’s Rebel Rouser and owner/exhibitor Jackie Osborne of Bowling Green, Ky., rounded out the top three.

The young riders were back again for class 86, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 15-17 on Walking Ponies with eight of the 14 expected making the call to work for Judge Jennifer Bingham and her staff. Making the winning ride in the class was Roll The Gold and Allison Thorson riding for ThorSport, Inc. of Sandusky, Ohio. This team has an impressive 2011 resume with wins at Walking For Korley Horse Show, Tony Rice Horse Show & Moore County Horse Show, with strong reserves at the Spring Fun Show & PC Splash Classic. Prime Poison and Lilly Waites were reserve in the class riding for the Andrew Waites family of Hattiesburg, Miss. Another Mississippi entry, Tommy Lee Jones and Benjamin Bowen of Randolph, Miss., was third.

Class 87 featured the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, Riders 70 and Over with 14 of the 19 on the books working down the hill to show for Judge Jamie Bradshaw and his staff. It’s pretty impressive indeed that we have a class just for riders 70 & Over and that we have 14 riders showing in the class, with several that are quite a few years older than 70! Impressive indeed! Even more impressive, riding to the top of the division was Dr. W.H. Hill and Kudos For Cash riding to the winner’s circle for Dr. & Mrs. W.H. Hill of Powder Springs, Ga. For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Hill will be 94 years young in November and can still ride & show better than many folks 60 years younger than him! He won this division in 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 with Cash’s All Star, and is back in the winner’s circle again in 2011 with Kudos For Cash. This team had tasted victory already in 2011 at the Edison, Ga. Horse Show & the Columbia Spring Jubilee and picked up a strong reserve at the Woodbury Lions Club Horse Show. Of course, he made his victory pass with a standing ovation from the Sunday evening crowd. Jose’s Centerfold and Bill Williams were reserve in the class for Great Oaks Farms of Ripley, Tenn. Mr. Kamikaze and owner/exhibitor Jack Bolozky were third, carrying honors home to Chesterfield, Mo.

Back in the Youth division, class 88 featured the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-17 on Park Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings. Eight of the 12 programmed entries made the gate to work for Judge Jamie Hankins and his panel. Topping the class was Jose’s Baby Doll and Lindsey Landrum riding for Lindsey Landrum & Doris Penick of Walterboro, S.C. This horse already scored one win with Lamar Penick in the Novice division earlier in the week. Fog At The Ritz and Abbey Fleming were reserve for Jim Upchurch of Jackson, Tenn. Overpass and Ashley Diamond Pollack were third for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.

Walking Mares, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter) (Riders’ Cup) brought three of the nine entries on the official Lions Club program to the ring for class 89. Judge Ronnie Spears served as Call Judge for the class. Topping the class with her usual jazzy performance was Jazzy Sally and Jimmy McConnell riding for Zachary Swafford of Pikeville, Tenn. Ms. Jose Walks and Charlie Green pulled into the second position for Sister Milligan of Panama City, Fla. She’s All That Jazz and Greg Bryant was third for Beth Beasley of Venice, Calif.

Moving over to the Amateur division, class 90A featured the Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings. Nine of the 20 expected beat the clock and took to the rail to work in the division as Judge Jeff Willis called the gaits. Riding for her second blue of the evening, it was Nancy Groover back in the winner’s circle once again, this time with Sugarland, taking honors home to Waco, Texas. This win was preceded by wins at Edison, Ga., the Spring Fun Show and the Woodbury Lions Club Horse Show. She’s Caliente’ and Courtney Luttrell accepted the red streamers for Stone Manor Farm of Alvaton, Ky. Jammin’ The Blues and Yvonna Matthis rounded out the top three in the very good class for John Weihl of Kings Mountain, N.C.

Class 90B, Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings brought 15 of the 21 programmed entries down the hill to work for Judge Jennifer Bingham and the Sunday night crowd. Stealing the blue in the class after a great performance and a unanimous decision of the panel was the team of One Bad Hombre and Sue Ann Dowell riding for Jo Ann Dowell of Powell, Ohio. This team scored 2011 wins at the Walking For Cancer Horse Show, the Columbia Spring Jubilee & the Liberty Lions Club Horse Show. A Bit Of Change and owner/exhibitor Diana Cruse of Blue Ridge, Ga., pulled in for the second award. Dance All Night and Rita Hudgens rounded out the top of the class securing the third award and taking it home to Franklin, Tenn.

The novice teams were back for one final time on the Sunday evening performance in class 91, Owner-Amateur Novice Lady Riders on Novice Walking Stallions. Twenty-five of the 35 with reservations made the call to work for their chance to ride out of the Novice division tonight as Judge Jamie Bradshaw called the gaits. Riding out of the field of 25 to their first Celebration blue was Boure’ and Tam Brogdon taking the honors home to Panama City Beach, Fla. This win was preceded with wins at the National Trainers’ Show, the Mississippi Charity Horse Show & the Smoky Mountain Classic. Ritz On The Corner and owner/exhibitor Ginger Hartlein of Shelbyville, Tenn., were reserve in the large class. Sandbagger and Shana Hughes were third for Dr. Shana Hughes of Russell Springs, Ky.

Rounding out the evening performance, as always on Sunday Night, was the Four-Year-Old Walking Stallions (Canter) (Riders’ Cup) and the Sunday night crowd that has stayed on hand strong were “All Shook Up” and ready to see the stallions take the track. Twenty of the 27 on the official program made their way down the hill, to the excitement of the crowd, to work, and hopefully impress, Call Judge Jamie Hankins and his panel. And did they impress! Topping the outstanding division was Copperfield and Knox Blackburn riding for the Mike Walden family of Chattanooga, Tenn. Walk Time Charlie and Chad Baucom were a strong reserve riding for Holland, Kilgore & Callicutt of Decatur & Tuscaloosa, Ala., & Seagrove, N.C. He’s Shady In Black and Jimmy McConnell rounded out the top three for Mike & Lee McGartland of Ft. Worth, Texas.

What an exciting night of horse show this has been, and complete at 11:05 p.m.! Make sure you’re back in Shelbyville tomorrow (Monday) night as we will get a look at the 15.2 and Under Mares, 15.2 and Under Stallions and three outstanding classes of Two-Year-Old Stallions. It’s sure to be another night not to be missed!