by Mark Davis

It’s certainly been a busy Saturday in Shelbyville!  Of course, it is Celebration week, so why would one expect any less.  The Celebration morning session had a great session featuring the Youth of our industry and there were also hundreds of young people on the grounds participating in The Celebration’s Youth Judging Contest.  Just across from Calsonic Arena, folks had been up all night Friday night preparing for the Barbeque Cook Off, and all over town there were horse sales, real estate sales, clinics and just about any other kind of activity that one could want to keep themselves busy on a Celebration Saturday.

But now, it was horse show time and the fans were ready!  With 12 classes of action highlighted by the Two-Year-Old Mares, the Yearling World Grand Championship and, of course, the Aged Stallions, the fans will certainly not be disappointed.

Marking the cards for the 71st annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was Rollie Beard of Lewisburg, Tenn.,  Jennifer Bingham of Shelbyville, Tenn., Jamie Bradshaw of Union Grove, Ala., Mike Carpenter of Franklin, Tenn., and Sam Sorrell of Flemingsburg, Ky.

As long time Celebration tradition holds, the show got underway promptly at 7 p.m. with the presentation of the grand old American flag by a white horse, Counterfeit Dollar, ridden by WGC rider Bud Seaton.  The invocation for the evening was given by Rev. Bobby McGee, pastor of Edgemont Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Tenn., followed by the singing of the National Anthem by the Edgemont Baptist Church Quartet.

Getting the show underway for the evening was class 73A, Owner-Amateur Novice Lady Riders on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings.  At The Celebration, a Novice is defined as one that has never won a Celebration blue, so in this division both the horse and rider would be looking for their first ever World Championship win.  Eighteen of the 29 with reservations made the call to work for that chance to make that very first sentimental journey down Celebration victory lane.  Judge Jamie Bradshaw served as Call Judge for the section.  Making that memorable ride out of the Novice division was Olympic’s Godfather and Stephanie Carter riding for the Barry Carter family of Bartlett, Tenn.  This had already been a great season for this team as they picked up wins at the Purchase Area Horse Show, West Tennessee Strawberry Festival Horse Show, Hardeman County Horse Show, Parker’s Crossroads Horse Show, Nettleton Horse Show and a strong 3rd in the Amateur Gelding division on Thursday Night. Remaining a Novice for another day accepting the red ribbon was Eb’s Night Storm and Taryn Harris up for Terri Harris of Prestonburg, Ky.  Jazz Man’s Echo and Kelly Lokey rounded out the top three for J & M Farms of Baileyton, Ala.


Class 73B, Owner-Amateur Novice Lady Riders on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings, brought another big section of teams hoping to make their last Novice ride tonight with 14 of the 29 booked to appear working to the big oval as Judge Mike Carpenter led the panel in the section.  Picking up that first win tonight and knocking out the competition was I’m Rocky Balboa and Rhonda Baucom up for Proctor Dean and Rhonda Baucom of Apex and Monroe, N.C.  Grand Sweepstakes and Lorie Riddley cashed in on reserve for Alan and Lorie Riddley of Shelby, N.C.  Ashley Case and Pancho’s Miss Clementine were third for Judy Case of Madison, Ala.

The professional riders made their first appearance of the evening in class 74, Young Trainers, 35 & Under, on Walking Horses, 15.2 & Under.  Thirteen of the 34 expected made their way down from Calsonic Arena to work under the watchful eyes of Judge Sam Sorrell and his panel.  Topping the event with a unanimous decision of the panel was John Allan Callaway and More Of The Major riding for Jim Leek of Cedar Creek, Texas.  This win was preceded with 2009 blues at the Bedford County Spring 4-H Horse Show, Lady Azules Soccer Horse Show and Crossroads of Dixie Horse Show.  Brooks Robinson and Brandon Stout almost knocked it out of the park as they pulled in for second for Linda Hackel Brown of Bell Buckle, Tenn.  Simply Jose’ and Bill Callaway collected the yellow streamers for Michael Taylor of Madison, Ala.

It was time to get in a western frame of mind for class 75, Western Park Pleasure Walking Horses (Canter).  Four of the 12 who had called ahead made their way down the hill to work all three gaits for the panel, led by Judge Rollie Beard, and the large Saturday evening crowd.  Taking the blue all the way back to sunny California was Hermano Gold and Jamey Thompson up for Roger and Rebecca Emerick of Hillsborough, Calif.  This team captured blues on the California circuit at the Desert Classic, the TWHAC Pro/Am Show and the TWHAC Celebration.   Owner/exhibitor Miles Irby of Murfreesboro, Tenn., pulled into the second position with Generator’s Power Pusher.  Armed & Dangerous Vanguard and Daneen Page were third for Lee Finley and Laura Droese of Strongsville, Ohio.

The Novice riders were back for class 76, Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 12-17 on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings.  Sixteen of the 28 in the Official Celebration program made their way down to the historic big oval hoping to make their Celebration dreams come true tonight.  Judge Jennifer Bingham served as Call Judge in the class.  Making that final Novice ride tonight was He’s Our Duramax and Kailin Kesselring riding hard for the Kasey Kesselring family of Montverde, Fla., and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Busting in for reserve were Busting Special and Taylor Walters in the saddle for the Molly Walters family of Southlake, Texas.  Straight Cash and Bayleigh Nale rounded out the top three for Marbry and Nale of Atoka and Arlington, Tenn.


The Two-Year-Old Mares were up next on the schedule and class 77A brought 18 of the 36 expected to the rail to show off their very best for the Saturday night crowd.  Judge Jamie Bradshaw led the judging panel in the section.  Riding away with the win in the excellent class was Miss Midnight Rider and Philip Trimble in the irons for Ramsey Bullington of Franklin, Tenn.  B-13 and Bill Callaway picked up the red streamers for Bo DiPlacido of Madison, Ala.  She’s Armed And Liberated and Jimmy McConnell was third for Carney and Hammons of Melber, Ky.

Class 77B brought the Two-Year-Old Mares to center stage once again with 11 of the 35 on the books working down from Calsonic Arena to strut their stuff for Call Judge Mike Carpenter and his cohorts.   Carrying the Celebration blue back South Carolina way was the team of Sam Martin and Jose’ Dolly riding for Johnny and Marsha Hewitt of Bishopville, S.C.  Jose’s Pretty Pusher and Justin Harris were reserve for Sale and Thomas of Lewisburg, Tenn., and Bowling Green, Ky.  Sweepstake’s Gypsy Lady and Mickey McCormick picked up the yellow streamers for Phillip and Nancy Ladd of Spring City, Tenn.

Back in the Amateur division, class 78 featured the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Ponies, Stallions with five of the 21 programmed entries beating the clock to work for World Championship claim in the division.  Judge Sam Sorrell served as Call Judge for the class.  ACC and Kenny Compton put on the stellar performance in the class to capture the win for Rick Compton of North Tazewell, Va.   This year’s wins for this duo include the Chunn’s Cove Horse Show, Smoky Mountain Classic, National Trainers’ Show and East Tennessee Classic.   Taking reserve honors just a little further north, I’m Packin’ A Pistol and Charlene Gibson accepted that honor and carried them home to Sykesville, Md.  Olympic Power and owner/exhibitor Stephanie Gordon of Murfreesboro, Tenn., rounded out the top three in the class.

Ah, yes, it was finally time to turn on that spotlight and hand out some roses as class 79 featured the Walking Yearling World Grand Championship.  Eight duos worked their way down the hill to work hard and show their very best to earn that honor to walk in the spotlight tonight.  Judge Rollie Beard led the panel in the class.  Once the work was complete, the entries were asked to line up and underwent the confirmation judging by the panel.  When the inspection was done, it was the TWHBEA National Futurity Yearling Colt Champion and World Champion Yearling Colt, Good Ole Rocky Top and Bobby Richards capturing the roses for Richards, Curtis and Jones of Hendersonville and Manchester, Tenn.    National Futurity Yearling Filly Champion and World Champion Yearling Filly Champion, I Walk A Fine Line and Dr. Brian Wright were reserve for Wright, Richards, Curtis and Barker of Mt. Juliet and Hendersonville, Tenn.  My Cowgirl Dale Evans and Chris Richards were third for Dr. Roger Richards of Hendersonville, Tenn.


Back in the Novice division, class 80, featured Owner-Amateur Novice Gentleman Riders on Novice Walking Stallions.  Ten of the 27 with reservations made their way to the rail to work as Judge Jennifer Bingham called the gaits in the class.  A Novice no more and taking the honors home to the Magnolia State was the team of The Thug and owner/exhibitor Luckey Easterling of Mize, Miss.  Showboat By Skywatch and Gordon Ezzell pulled into the second position and remained a Novice for another day riding for Gordon and Anglyn Ezzell of Rocky Mount, N.C.  Above The Line and Brad Spivey were third for Jake Spivey of Morristown, Tenn.

And with that, it was time to call class 81A, Walking Stallions, Five Years & Over, Over 15.2 (Canter) to the ring and get that first glimpse at the horses that will be competing for the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship next Saturday night.  Seven of the 14 expected in the first section worked their way down from Calsonic Arena as organist Larry Bright had the “Flat Walk Boogie” playing.  Judge Jamie Bradshaw served as Call Judge for the section.  Without a doubt, everyone in the stands had their favorite picked out and certainly let the judges know it throughout the class.  When the seven teams were lined up and the judging was complete, announcer Bobby Sands called the team of The Coach and John Allan Callaway, 2009 champions at the Spring Fun Show and Red Carpet Show of the South to the winner’s circle for Holland, Kilgore and Barnes of Decatur and Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Pigeon Forge, Tenn.  Brownsville, Tenn., Horse Show Champions, Watch It Now and Jimmy McConnell were a very popular reserve  for Waterfall Farms, LP of Atlanta, Ga., and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Cadillac’s Bum and Edgar Abernathy, champions at Huntingdon, Tenn. & Woodbury, Tenn., were third for Pam Betts of Union City, Tenn.


With one section down and the level of excitement high, it was time to call class 81B, Walking Stallions, Five Years & Over, Over 15.2 (Canter) down the hill.  Five of the 18 expected got their prime spot on the rail to show the crowd just exactly what they had as Judge Mike Carpenter called the gaits in the section.  Repeating on their 2008 win in the division Rowdy Rev and Bill Bobo rode to the winner’s circle in the division for Mr. Bill Harlin of Franklin, Tenn.  With this win, the duo retired the Ebony’s Time Around and Mr. and Mrs. Manning W. Jones Memorial Challenge Trophy, the Marvin Wilson Memorial Challenge Trophy, the S.P. “Pete” Anderson Memorial Challenge Trophy, and the Dark Spirit’s Rebel Memorial Challenge Trophy.  Mississippi Charity Horse Show and Spring Fun Show Champions, The Golden Sovereign and David Landrum were reserve in the section for Evergreen Walking Horse Farm of Bell Buckle, Tenn.  Ray Gilmer and Puttin’ Cash On The Line rounded out the top three for the Tommy Jowers family of Leesburg, Ga.

 Ah, yes.  It was a great night of World Championship competition on Saturday night and now the talk really begins over the week to come.  Will the 2009 World Grand Champion be The Coach or Rowdy Rev?  Will Watch It Now or The Golden Sovereign or Cadillac’s Bum or Puttin’ Cash On The Line step up to steal the show?  Will we have a surprise dark horse candidate that might come from another preliminary?  We will just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, don’t miss out on history being made every night at the 71st annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.