By Mark Davis

Sunday.  For most it is still a day of rest, but not during the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.  Even though there were no day classes held today, there was still plenty of action on the show grounds with The Celebration Dog Show being held in Calsonic Arena and the Stable Judging taking place around the grounds.  Of course, there was a great horse show in waiting for Sunday Evening which featured 14 classes of competition highlighted by the Four-Year-Old Stallions, Youth Ponies, Riders 15-17 and Aged Mares.  It certainly should be one great evening and hopefully, the few brief rain showers in the area preshow will hold off until the final class gets competed.

The judges for the 70th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Rollie Beard of Lewisburg, Tenn., Nathan Clark of Arab, Ala., Jamie Hankins of Paris, Ky., Tommy Howell of Shelbyville, Tenn., and Mack Motes of Eagleville, Tenn.

The invocation for the evening was given by Lloyd Doyle of First United Methodist Church of Shelbyville, Tenn., followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Jon Brock of Shelbyville, Tenn.

First up on the evening’s program was class 79, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-14 on Walking Mares or Geldings with 13 of the 31 on the books making their way down to the big oval to work as Judge Mack Motes called the gaits for the event.  Pushing their way to a big blue ribbon performance in an outstanding division and carrying the blue back to old Virginia was She’s Push In Command and Lindsay Hess riding for C.M., Connie and Lindsay Hess/Zenda Hill Farm of Harrisonburg, Va.  The American General and owner/exhibitor Maisie McSwain of Alpharetta, Ga., pulled in to accept the red streamers.  Benjamin Bowen and Sanman were third for Larry Russell of Pontotoc, Miss.  It’s worthy of note that all three of these horses were all current or former World Champions, a real testament to the quality of the horses in the class.

Lindsay Hess was met by her proud dad as she exited the ring with the first blue ribbon of the evening.

Class 80 featured the Elite Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings with 13 of the 36 with reservations making the gate call for the section.  Judge Rollie Beard served as Call Judge for the class.  There was no foolin’ going on as announcer Chip Walters called the team of Foolish Dollar and Wilsene Moody to the winner’s circle for O. & W. Moody Ltd., of Batesville, Ark., and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Bo’s Shania Rose and Brenda Carlon were a popular reserve for Dr. Harv and Brenda Carlon of Lowell, Mich. & Flat Creek, Tenn.  Worth A Buck and owner/exhibitor Beverly Sherman of Dallas, Texas garnered the yellow ribbon.

Twelve of the 18 young riders expected came down the hill to compete for their first Celebration blue in class 81A, Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings.  Judge Nathan Clark led the panel in the event.  Riding his way out of the novice division with a big ovation form the Sunday evening crowd was Sunrise’s Heartbeat and Isaac McGee riding for Jeffrey McGee of Shelbyville, Tenn.  She’s High Falutin’ and Emilee Graves picked up the red ribbon for Graves and Hudson of Murfreesboro and Bell Buckle, Tenn.  Nicole Martin and Santana’s Renaissance Man were third for Nicole Martin and Ashlee Mathews of Shelbyville, Tenn.

The young riders were back looking for their first shot at Celebration silver in class 81B, Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Novice Mares or Geldings.  Thirteen of the 17 on the books worked the rail as Judge Jamie Hankins called the gaits.   Saying goodbye to the competition in the division and picking up her very first Celebration win was the classic horse, Hello Generator and Jayden Jackson riding for very proud granddad, Jack Heffington of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Happy By JFK and Buie Williams were reserve for Theresa Williams of Columbia, Tenn.  Stratton Weaver and Major Limits garnered the golden ribbons for grandma, Yvonne Aymett of Lewisburg, Tenn.

The trainers were back on the track for class 82, Four-Year-Old Walking Stallions with 19 of the 34 with reservations coming to work hard for the panel, led by Judge Tommy Howell, and the crowd.  Topping the excellent division was the hard working team of The Coach and Joel Weaver in the irons for Holland, Kilgore and Barnes of Decatur and Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Pigeon Forge, Tenn.  A reigning Three-Year-Old World Champion Stallion, The Coach has had a great 2008 with wins at Gallatin, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show, Philadelphia, Miss.’s Neshoba County Classic, Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Liberty Lions Club Horse Show, the Tony Rice Horse Show and Pulaski, Tenn.’s Red Carpet Horse Show of the South.  Ozone’s Cut Above All and John Allan Callaway pulled in for the second award for Mark and Sharon Thomas of Columbus, N.C.  Oh My Wicked Ways and Ray Gilmer rounded out the top three for the Tommy Jowers fFamily of Leesburg, Ga.

Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 15-17 Years on Walking Ponies, class 83, was up next with 13 young riders working their ponies for the approval of Judge Mack Motes and his cohorts.  Making that memorable winning ride and taking the honors home to South Georgia was I’m Uncle Kracker and Haley Lane, 2008 champions at Edison, Ga.’s King Cotton Horse Show, Yatesville, Ga.’s Lions Club Horse Show, Phenix City, Ala.’s Twin Cities Classic and Cleveland, Tenn.’s Ocoee Classic, riding to the win for Dr. Linda Jones and Haley Lane of Bainbridge, Ga.  He’s Hot As Fire and Caleb Kilburn were close behind in the second spot for the Salt Lick Farms of Salt Lick, Ky.  Sweepstakes Hy & Mighty and Joshua Wright were third for Jeffrey Hinson and Josh Wright of Hohenwald and Reagan, Tenn.

Haley Lane and I'm Uncle Kracker took home the title of WC Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 15-17 Years on Walking Ponies.  

Up next was class 84, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, 70 and Over, one of the great additions made to The Celebration over the past few years, with 13 riders making their way to show off as Judge Rollie Beard served as Call Judge.  It’s great to be 70 and still be able to show, but I will just say that I believe that several of these riders are well in excess of 80.  What an accomplishment indeed!  Riding to the winner’s circle in the event for the third year in a row was the team of Cash’s All Star and Dr. W.H. Hill in the irons for Dr. and Mrs. W.H. Hill of Powder Springs, Ga.  Dr. Hill is one of those who happens to fall in the “excess of 80” category” since he’s 90 years young and will be 91 in November.  He was also honored this year as he was inducted into The Celebration’s Hall of Fame.  The duo also had showring success this year picking up wins at Dawson, Ga.’s Cloverleaf Classic and Edison, Ga.’s King Cotton Horse Show.

Riding to the reserve in the event was Radical Jazz and Mo Nisbett riding for Dr. and Mrs. Harry Nisbett of Tullahoma, Tenn.  The Cash Lotto and Jeanine Gullett picked up the yellow streamers for Jim Gullett of Duluth, Ga.

Class 85 featured the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-17 on Park Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings with 10 of the 13 on the books making the gate call to work for the Celebration win under the watchful eye of Judge Nathan Clark and his panel.  Heading down victory lane with a unanimous decision of the panel was reigning Park Pleasure WGC Santana’s Coin and Lindsey Landrum riding for McNeely & Landrum of Blowing Rock, N.C. and Franklin, Tenn.  This makes Santana’s Coin’s second Celebration win for 2008 as he teamed with Wallace Brandon to top the Park Pleasure Driving earlier in the week and second consecutive win with Lindsey Landrum in this division.  Wham and owner/exhibitor Austin Gillentine of Muncie, Ind., pulled in for the second award, while Regal’s Delight Lady and Kendra Gilmore rounded out the top three for Reynolds, Hamilton and Gilmore of Jupiter, Fla., and McKenzie, Tenn.

The professional riders were up on the schedule for class 86, Walking Mares, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter) with 10 of the 19 programmed entries working the track for Call Judge Jamie Hankins and his staff.  Putting on one outstanding performance was the duo of Hosanna and Larry Edwards riding for Mr. & Mrs. Louis Hawkersmith of Tullahoma, Tenn.  Preakness and Joe Cotten were reserve for Dr. & Mrs. R. Rigual of Oklahoma City, Okla., and San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Jimmy McConnell and Hey Hey Ole’ rounded out the top three for Bob Medina of Skillman, N.J.

Twenty four of the 32 expected for class 87A, Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings made their way to the historic big oval to show off at the world’s greatest horse show as Judge Tommy Howell called the gaits for the section.  Riding to the top of the big division were Bella Sera At The Ritz and Ashley Joseph riding for the Anthony Joseph family of Columbiana, Ala.  This win highlights a resume featuring 2008 wins at the Gulf Coast Charity Celebration, Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Liberty Lions Club Horse Show, the Tony Rice Horse Show and Pulaski, Tenn.’s Red Carpet Horse Show of the South.  It’s Silver Dollar Time and Kelley McSwain pulled into the second position for K & K Farms of Atlanta, Ga., and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Sarah Moersch and Go Jo Jo were third for Rolling Hills Farm and Dr. Barbara Moersch of Jacksonville, Ala.

Ashley Joseph and Bella Sera At the Ritz made a flawless performance and claimed the blue in the A division of the Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings. 

Another big group of 20 beat the gate call for class 87B, Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings.  Judge Mack Motes led the panel in this split.  Taking that blue ribbon back to South Mississippi was Dark Escape and Brett Jones up for Brett and Lisa Jones of Tylertown, Miss.  Tarheel’s Angelique and Kenny Compton accepted the second award for Delia Compton of Tazewell, Va.  Headed to the sunny beaches of Florida with third were Ms. Jose' Walks and Sister Milligan riding for Tommy and Sister Milligan of Panama City, Fla.

The Novice riders were up for class 88A, Owner-Amateur Novice Lady Riders on Novice Walking Stallions with 13 of the 26 with reservations beating the clock to for their first chance to make that sentimental journey down victory lane in Shelbyville!  Judge Rollie Beard served as Call Judge in the section.  Riding away with the win with a unanimous decision of the panel were Gen’s Major Event and Julie Alford taking the win back to the Show Me State for John Alford of Buffalo, Mo.  Jose’s Rare Gold Coin and Kayleigh Mesimer took home the red streamers for Barbara Mesimer of Concord, N.C.  I’m A Hustler and Sally Kennamer garnered the yellow ribbon for Kennamer, Webb and Wade of Valdosta, Ga., Rockvale and McMinnville, Tenn.

Fourteen more Novice teams came down for class 88B, Owner-Amateur Novice Lady Riders on Novice Walking Stallions.  Judge Nathan Clark called the gaits in the class.  Well, no more novice classes for Outta Line and Kelly Peevy, but I don’t think they’ll mind as they made a stellar performance to take their first Celebration blue home to Decatur, Ala. This win was preceded with wins at the South Alabama Charity Horse Show, Jackson, Miss.’s Mississippi Charity Horse Show, Columbiana, Ala.’s Shelby County Horse Show, Bolivar, Tenn.’s Hardeman County Horse Show and Jackson, Tenn.’s Mid South Horse Show.  The Who and Molly Walters remain novices for one more day pulling into the second position for the Molly Walters family of Southlake, Texas.  Command Again and Mary Ann Blessing were third for What A Blessing Farm of Bristol, Tenn.

The final class of the evening was class 89, Show Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings with 17 of the 19 on the books making the gate call to work one more time on Sunday night for Judge Jamie Hankins and his staff.  After a brief delay due to a cast shoe by Cash’s Precious Choice, ridden by Jamie Woosley, which was expertly replaced by Celebration farrier Louie Staton, the action was back on.  When the work was complete it was the team of Absolutely Flawless and John Allan Callaway picking up the win with a flawless performance for C & C Stables of Lawrenceville, Ga.  She’s One Hot Tamale and Tim Smith were reserve for McNeill and Nesius of Andalusia, Ala., and Chapel Hill, Tenn.  Jeanette Baucom and I’m An Evil Rebel collected the yellow streamers for John Weihl and Yvonna Matthis of Kings Mountain, N.C.

What a great Sunday evening performance it has been!  After the wet weather from earlier in the day passed and never affected the show, there was a great crowd on hand with a paid attendance of 22,097, up 1461 from last year and an actual attendance of 11,436, the second largest crowd ever on Sunday night and the largest since 1969!  They got to see a great horse show as well with 203 horses being shown in 14 classes.

The dollar nights get underway Monday and Tuesday evening with all General Admission tickets costing only $1 and Celebration food vendors offering special dollar deals each night.  The Music In The Plaza continues each night at 5:15 pm and has been a very enjoyable addition to the Celebration schedule, so make your plans to be in attendance a little early and check out who’s playing.  Monday evening promises to be a great horse show as well with three sections of Two-Year-Old Stallions and the 15.2 and Under Stallions.  Make plans to come back and join us once again.  It’s all part of what makes The Celebration the world’s greatest horse show!