By Mark McGee

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The first day of Celebration 2020 got underway promptly at 9 a.m., Wednesday with morning show announcer Dallas Eubanks welcoming fans to Calsonic Arena. The Celebration judging panel, consisting of Rollie Beard, Ross Campbell, Mike Hilley, Sam Sorrell and Leigh Stuart, had the task of presiding over 12 classes of top competitors during this morning session. 

Beverly Carter started off the 82nd annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration guiding Mystic Jazz to first place in the Model Pleasure Walking Mares for Rushing Creek Walkers of Dickson, Tennessee. Carter bested seven entries in the class to open the Celebration. Dog Gone Girl Is Mine, directed by Robert Nelms, was second for owner Lisa Teel. Third went to A Bit Rowdy with Laurie Toone presenting for owner Eli Murphy.

The Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Trail Pleasure Walking Horses welcomed 23 horses for competition. Jose’s Twist Of Gin, the recently named 2020 International Maiden Grand Champion, teamed up with new owner Patti Pollack from Saratoga, California and Shelbyville, Tennessee, to top the class. Second in the highly competitive class was Villanelle, ridden by Kathy Anderson. Third place was awarded to Kryptonite with Miles Irby in the saddle for Patty and Monte Gibbs.

Five horses entered the ring for the Elite Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Pleasure Walking Horses. For the third year in a row, it was the team of He’s A Dixieland Delight and Vickie Penick tying for first. Second place was awarded to Dose’ and Lisa Baum, with Jose’s No Counting Me Out taking home third place with Dr. John Gladney riding for Gladney Farms.

The Owner-Amateur Riders on English Country Pleasure Walking Horses featured eight entries. GiGi’s Majestic rode to the blue with Elysse Bradford in the saddle for owner William Bradford of Dallas, Texas. The duo added this win to their same victory in 2016. Claiming the second place honor was Bulleit with Maggie Moore riding for the Moore and Leek partnership. Third place honors went to Hey Charlene and Amanda Manis for the Manis and Holt partnership.

In the Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Country Pleasure Walking Mares nine teams vied for the top honor. It was the best of times for Lindy Holt from Franklin, Tennessee, as she rode I’m Charles Dickens to the blue with a unanimous decision of the judging panel. The second place tie went to Calico Barbie and Charlene Cook riding for Central Georgia Equine Services. Pandemic placed third with Jennifer Bingham in the saddle. She co-owns the horse with Kristi Smith.

Six riders, all previous world champions, answered the gate call for the Owner-Amateur Riders on Western Lite-Shod Walking Horses; the halfway point of the morning performance. For the third consecutive year, it was the team of Lisa Baum and Big Time Bandit who heard their names called as the champions. The reserve streamers went to My Black Cadillac and Allison Thorson, with Miss Dixie Flyer and Donna Byard accepting third place honors.

Kimberly Walden bested 10 entries aboard Blacklist in the Owner-Amateur Riders on English Trail Pleasure Walking Horses. Kimberly, from Shelbyville, Tennessee, co-owns the world champion with husband Perry Walden. Second place went to A Rain Delay and Kathy Anderson, while Contemporary Jazz and Elysse Bradford walked away with the yellow streamers. 

The Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Country Pleasure Walking  Horses drew 14 entries. After a 14 year absence from the show ring, it was sweet victory for Keith Johnson. He teamed up with Line’s Moose Munch to find their way down victory lane. Perfect Timing BC and Bob Lawrence graciously accepted the second place award for the Lawrence and Hutto partnership. Late For A Date and Connie Holbrook walked to their third place award. 

Seven horses competed in the Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Five & Under class. Armed But Kid’n and Jeff Laughlin rode to the blue for owner Sister Milligan of Panama City, Florida. Second was presented to Ryan Gannon and Chrome Curb Appeal for Rushing Creek Walkers. Third place honors were captured by Travis Craft and Dixie’s Legacy for the Milligan and Laughlin partnership.

Lady James and Darren Gray of Clermont, Florida topped five entries in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old English Trail Pleasure Walking Horses. Lisa Baum directed Lazaro LB to the reserve spot, while rounding out third was the team of Tim Brooks and Master Cruiser.

The Owner-Amateur Riders on Western Country Pleasure Walking Horses, Five & Under class was the second largest class of the morning with 18 entries. The Walking Horse Report’s own Sarah Smith of Shelbyville, Tennessee guided She’s Never Been Kissed to the blue ribbon, and Smith’s first ever world championship. Smith co-owns the champion with S&P LLC. Second place honors went to Kool Vibes and Lindy Holt, with Amanda Manis directing Lujoso to the yellow streamers. 

The first morning session closed with five entries in the Auxiliary Equitation, Medal Class, Youth Division, Riders 6-11 Years. Hearing her name called as the champion was Ruth Collins of Paris, Kentucky. Finley-Grace Brooks captured the reserve award, while Maddie McCormick settled for the third place title.