by Mark Davis

As a light rain fell outside, the crowd gathered in the shelter of Calsonic Arena for the final session of day classes of the 66th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

The first class on the schedule was class 83, Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Four-Years-Old, Lite Shod (Canter). Six of the nine entries on the schedule made the call to work for the first Celebration blue of the Monday morning session. When the work was complete, it was the team of First Classic and Jim Potter riding to the winner’s circle for Dave Wenger and Lynne Wittman Wenger of Hebron, Ohio. A Classic Shot and Laurie Toone for Jim & Terri Naugle of Novato, Calif. Strictly Off The Record and Manuel Rodriguez captured third for Judy Sims of Riverside, Calif.

Seventeen of the 22 with reservations made the call for class 84, Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Three-Years-Old, Amateur Riders. Bob Cherry called the gaits in the division. Reigning International and National Futurity Champion Forever Spirit and owner/exhibitor Sue Maze of Murphy, Texas carried another Celebration blue back to the Lonestar state. Reserve in the division traveled to the Peach state as Joe Dixon and Twenty Four Kt Cash for Randall and Gloria Dixon/Red Eagle Farms of Dacula, Ga. Third in the division traveled to the West Coast with recent Nolensville, Tenn. champion As Good As Elvis and Tim Schamber for Tim and Tammie Schamber of Norco, Calif.

Equitation, Riders 18 and Over (Canter) fell next on the schedule with five of the seven making the call to work as Joe Fleming served as call judge in the division. Taking home the Celebration win in the division was Sara Womack of Murfreesboro, Tenn. Leslie Perry of Salt Lick, Ky rode to the reserve ribbon with Kacey Conley of Alvaton, Ky accepting third.

Class 86, Novice Park Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings, Amateur Novice Youth Riders 17 Years and Under, hit the track 16 strong with Tommy Loid calling the gaits. The Monday morning crowd cheered the young riders around the ring as each worked for their first ever World Championship. Rodney Dangerfield and Landon Head suffered misfortune when they cast a shoe and, for the first time of the 2004 Celebration, the shoe could not be replaced requiring the entry to be excused. Making a “hot” performance in the division was the team of Mr. Chili Pepper and Ashley Pollack riding to the winner’s circle for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. and Shelbyville, Tenn. Direct Effect and Amber Lowe made a solid performance to ride to the reserve for the Kenneth Lowe family of Carrollton, Ga. JFK’s Jubilation Sun and Grandy Tuck, Jr. accepted the yellow streamer for Angela Tuck of Eden, NC.

The novice riders hit the track again in Class 87, Novice Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, Amateur Novice Riders with 20 of the scheduled 29 making the call to work for Huck Moss and his colleagues. As the rain fell outside, even a few drops made it inside as Guy Ben Findley and Black Rain Drops topped the division to ride their way out of the novice division for Guy Ben & Murline Findley of Buford, Ga. Extra Sonata and owner/exhibitor Andy Parker of Woodbury, Tenn were equally impressive in their reserve ride. In The Heat Of The Night and owner/exhibitor Angela Tuck of Eden, NC proudly accepted third.

Adding a little variety to the morning’s session, the Weanling Colts, of 2004 Foal came to Calsonic Arena with 28 of the 50 programmed entries making the call to work. Wayne Abee served as call judge for the division. Robert Nelms and Arial Assault captured the win in the competitive division for Lisa Teel & Mitzi Butler of Andalusia, Ala. Reserve in the division went to the jazzy team of A Jazzy Jubilee and Keith Reed for Russell Duggin of Woodbury, Tenn. Look Who’s Taking Command and Nathan Mills accepted third for grandfather, Hoyte Eakes of Nashville, Tenn.

The Novice division took center stage once again in class 89 A, Novice Amateur English Trail Pleasure Riders on Novice Walking Horses with 20 of the 34 making the call to work Celebration acclaim. Capturing their first ever World title in the division was Our Sunny Boy and owner/exhibitor Gary Emfield carrying the title back to Laguna Beach, Calif. One Knight At A Time and owner/exhibitor Olivia Boyle carried the red ribbon back to another sunny spot, Melbourne, Fla. Touch This Mack Attack and Becca Pennington of Bluffdale, UT rode to the third award.

Twenty of the 31 entries on the card made the call to work in class 89B, Novice Amateur English Trail Pleasure Riders on Novice Walking Horses with Joe Fleming calling the gaits in the division. There was no fooling going on in this division as Stop’s April Fool and Denise Bader made that sentimental journey down victory lane for Russell Keyser of Bell Buckle, Tenn. Papa’s Showgirl and Stacy Avery showed to the reserve honors for James Nichols of Oxford, Miss. Hailing from Ten Mile, Tenn, Ruth Tudor and I’m Just Jessie claimed the yellow streamer.

The trainers took the track for class 90, Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Riders 18 Years and Over. Fourteen of the 24 on the schedule made the call to work for Tommy Loid and the judging staff. Making the victory pass in the division, with a unanimous decision of the panel, was the team of Lit Up’s Double Time and Howard Hamilton for Randal & Gloria Dixon/Red Eagle Farms of Dacula, Ga. Already a World Champion at the 2004 Celebration, Dragonfire returned with trainer Jamey Thompson to capture reserve honors for Riverside’s Summit Ranch/Jim and Cindi Heiting of Riverside, Calif. Perennial competitor Wallace Brandon accepted third with Pride’s Commander Jake for Rhonda Martocci of Franklin, Tenn.

Ten of the 15 teams entered made the call to compete in class 91, Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, Amateur Riders (Canter). In the division, the multi-titled World Championship team of Pusher’s Beaming Pride and Jim Nichols rode to the winner’s circle for Jim and Debbie Nichols of New Market, Tenn., making back to back wins for the Southern Serenity Ranch team. International Champion Armed Lady From Dixie and Wayne Westbrook took reserve honors back to the Lonestar state for Robert Westbrook of Flower Mound, Texas. Classic horse, Sparkling Generator and KC Hensley proudly accepted third for Sherry Givens and KC Hensley of Westel and Shelbyville, Tenn.

The Auxiliary Equitation, Youth Medal Championship fell next on the day’s agenda with seven young riders working for the World Grand Championship acclaim in the division which judges the rider, not the horse. Three of the young ladies, Rachel Jernigan, Alex Bumpus and Erica Derickson were asked to perform individual work to assist in the determination of the champion in the division. When the work was complete, Alex Bumpus of Rockvale, Tenn. were called to accept the honors for the second consecutive year with a unanimous decision of the judging panel. With this win, she retires the Alice Eve Klein-Senator’s Big Glory Challenge Trophy. Reserve honors went to Erica Derickson of Wartrace, Tenn. and Rachel Jernigan of Crossville, Tenn accepted third.

The final class on the Monday Morning schedule was class 93, Weanling Fillies, of 2004 Foal. Nineteen of the 32 scheduled to appear made the call to work as Bob Cherry led the panel in the division. Championship honors in the division went to the unanimous choice of the panel, A Jazz Attraction and Robert Nelms at the lead for the Curt Washburn family of Fayetteville, Tenn. This team already captured a TWHBEA National Futurity championship on Wednesday evening. Reserve honors went to Deadly Combination and Sylvester Skierkowski for Bobby Joe Jones of Manchester, Tenn. Armed’s Perfect Lady and Chris Richards accepted third for Mr. and Mrs. Charles Brantley of Wartrace, Tenn.

And with that, the morning sessions of the 66th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration were in the record books. After a day of work tomorrow, the floor of the Calsonic Arena will be transformed into a shopper’s paradise and be filled with vendors by Wednesday. Make plans to come by on your way to Tuesday’s session which will be highlighted by the Four-Year-Old Walking Mares, Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Mares or Geldings and Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions. Celebration 2004 has already been one to remember, so you won’t want to miss a moment of what’s left to come.