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Edwards/McSwain Team Dominate Friday Night

by Mark Davis

With a breeze blowing to cool the late August heat and clear skies above, the crowd gathered for the first Friday night edition of the 66th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. Promptly at 7 pm, Counterfeit Dollar and Bud Seaton rode through the gate presenting the national colors. The Rev. Bobby McGee of the Edgemont Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Tenn. gave the invocation and The Edgemont Baptist Church Quartet sang a rousing version of the National anthem.

The evening’s schedule is highlighted by several Friday night traditions, the Youth 11 and Under Riders on Walking Geldings, Amateur Specialty Stallions and Three-Year-Old Stallions just to name a few. The continued growth of The Celebration and the Tennessee Walking Horse industry meant that a record number of classes were split into three division, with two of those classes; the Youth 11 and Under riders on Walking Geldings and the Three-Year-Old Stallions appearing on this evening’s schedule. That also means that a large number of classes, 17, appeared on the night’s schedule. However, the excitement is high in Shelbyville and the fans are ready for a horse show!

Worthy of note, the Celebration got off to a great start on Thursday evening with paid attendance of 22, 950, up 21 from 2003 and actual attendance of 11, 961, up 504 from last year.

And as the flag waved in the breeze as Bud Seaton and Counterfeit Dollar headed up the chute, the call was for the A division of the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Geldings, Riders 11 and Under. Nothing can get a crowd excited any faster than a ring full of young riders working hard to do everything just right so that call judge Wayne Abee and his staff will notice them and give them the opportunity to make that memorable ride to the Celebration winners circle. Nineteen of the 22 scheduled for the split worked for top honors. As the class worked the to the lineup, Thomas Derickson and Miami Heat suffered a misfortune that caused Derickson to fall from the horse. He was quickly recovered by a family member and appeared to be fine, but did have to be excused from competition.

When the cards were tied, announcer Chip Walters called the team of Masie McSwain and Armed to Show to victory lane for the Dan McSwain family of Atlanta, Ga. This team preceded this win with victories at the National Trainers Show, Dawson, Ga.’s Cloverleaf Classic,Panama City, Fla.’s Gulf Coast Charity Celebration, Thomaston, Ga.’s Flint River Classic and Carrollton, Ga. Reserve in the division went to Flashy Cash and Rachel Hyneman, the 2003 B Division Youth 11 and Under Gelding World Champion, for the Hy-Steppin Farm of Germantown, Tenn. Star Of The Year, a many time World Champion in the amateur division, and Annalisa Cooper captured third for Alecia Cooper of Mt. Juliet, Tenn.

Another competitive group of young riders hit the track as the B division of the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Geldings, Riders 11 and Under got underway. Twenty of the 21 with reservations made the call as Bob Cherry called the gaits. Eb’s Final Notice and Treeah Majors had a little misfortune of their own as a shoe was cast, but as in every case so far this year, farrier Louie Staton was able to replace the shoe and allow the team to complete their show at the 2004 Celebration. There’s one little guy from North Mississippi that probably won’t ever forget the 2004 Celebration, Benjamin Bowen. That’s because he and Sanman captured their first Celebration blue, after taking home wins earlier in the year at Summertown, Tenn.,Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Walking To Make A Difference and Nolensville, Tenn., for proud grandparents, Larry and Pam Russell of Pontotoc, Miss. Reserve in the tough division went to Gen’s My Magic Marker and Elizabeth Lawrence for Lawrence and Duncan of Bell Buckle, Tenn. Third went to the Murfreesboro, Tenn. Exchange Club Youth 11 and Under champion, Five Star Rating and Payton Davis for Whitney and Payton Davis of Shelbyville, Tenn.

The C division of the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Geldings, Riders 11 and Under was just as tough as the previous two splits. Joe Fleming served as call judge for the 18 entry division.

When the cards were in, Miss Masie McSwain accomplished something that may just have never been done before, she collected a second Celebration blue in the Youth 11 and Under Gelding division. In this division she made an flawless presentation on the current Bethesda, Tenn. Youth 11 and Under Champion, The American General for the Dan McSwain family of Atlanta, Ga. it will definitely be a happy night at the Edwards barn tonight. I’m Crankin’ Frank and Jessica Popp rode to the red streamer for Branson and Jessica Popp of Bell Buckle, Tenn. Inside Track and Kristopher Ausburn accepted the yellow streamer for proud grandparents, Red and Dot Strickland of Olive Branch, Miss. and Shelbyville, Tenn.

Next, the trainers hit the track for the Two-Year-Old Walking Geldings. Twenty-six of the 35 entered made the gate call, as Tommy Loid called the gaits. Pat Hackney of Nashville, Tenn. must feel pretty good about her recent selection of The Perfect Masquerade because he and trainer Mickey McCormick just won her a Celebration blue! Not bad, not bad at all. The tough duo had previous wins at Summertown, Tenn., Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Walking For Education and the Murfreesboro, Tenn. Exchange Club show. Reserve in the competitive division went to A Public Affair and Jason Day for Butch Smith of Crossville, Tenn. Still Connected and Tim Gray accepted the third award for Charles E and Carol Ann Gavin of Dalton, Ga. and Wartrace, Tenn.

Twenty outstanding entries made the gate call for class 47, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions. Huck Moss handled the job of call judge. After making an outstanding performance, the team of A Specialist and Susan Gordon repeated their 2003 win in the division for the Stonegait Farms of Orange, Calif. With this win, the team retired the Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors Challenge Trophy. Recent Nolensville, Tenn. Amateur Specialty champions, Black Cash Delight and Gail Walling made a strong showing to capture the red ribbon for Judy McDonald of Tullahoma, Tenn. The Golden Sovereign and Keith McSwain rode to the yellow streamer for the Dan McSwain family of Atlanta, Ga.

As previously mentioned, the Three-Year-Old Walking Stallion division is one of those that continues to show very strong interest and required three splits this year. The class has been extremely competitive throughout the 2004 show season and became even more wide open after the untimely death of Pride’s Heartbeat, the 2004 Belfast Three-Year-Old Stallion Champion, owned by Gordon and Patricia Timmons of Charleston, SC and trained by Sam Martin of Leesville, SC. The young stallion, who was thought to be one of the leading contenders in the Three-Year-Old division, passed away shortly after his Belfast win.

The A division found 23 of the scheduled 41 making the call to work for Wayne Abee and the judging staff. After making an memorable performance that captured the approval of the crowd, Jose’s Intimidator and Jamie Bradshaw were called to the winner’s circle for Mr. and Mrs. Randall Ferguson of Union Grove, Ala. This dynamic team preceded this win with titles at the National Trainers Show, the Columbia, Tenn. Spring Jubilee and the Pulaski, Tenn. Red Carpet Horse Show of the South. Reigning Bethesda, Tenn., and Fayetteville, Tenn. champion Pushin’ The Gen and Ray Gilmer were a popular reserve for Mrs. Dudley Moore of Byhalia, Miss. Don and George Ann Pratt’s recent selection, Goodbye Joe accepted third with trainer Allan Callaway in the irons.

Thirty-two of the 43 scheduled hit the track in the B division with Bob Cherry calling the gaits in the event. The judging panel determined that additional work would be necessary to determine the champion, and asked 15 to remain to work for that Celebration title. Everyone in the crowd had their favorite in this division and didn’t have a problem letting the judges know it. However, when the cards were tied, the crowd felt like “justice” was had by all as the team of Steal Justice and Jerry Collier rode to the winner’s circle for Mr. and Mrs. Perry Hastings of Greenwood, SC. Another crowd favorite, Bold Vengeance and Bill Bobo, fell into the reserve position for Judy McDonald of Tullahoma, Tenn. Spring Fun Show and Woodbury champion Empiremaker and Ronnie Spears accepted the yellow streamer for HLS&T of Palmetto, Fla. and Tullahoma, Tenn.

The C division found 26 of the 42 entered working for World Championship acclaim before Joe Fleming and the judging staff. In this division, the “image” of excellence was clear as the 2003 Two-Year-Old WGC and 2004 Wartrace Three-Year-Old Stallion Champion, The Image Of Ritz and Larry Edwards rode to the winner’s circle for the Dan McSwain family of Atlanta, Ga. This makes three wins for the McSwain family tonight, surely a night to remember. Reserve in the division went to I’m PT 109 and Jackie McConnell for Stan Wilcoxen of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Willie Mays and Joe Cotten rode to the yellow streamer for the Hy-Steppin Farm of Germantown, Tenn.

The A division of the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Novice Youth Riders on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings, Riders 17 and Under found 27 young riders out of the 31 programmed making the call to work for that first Celebration blue as Tommy Loid called the gaits in the division. Well, Brandon Urad must be one lucky young man. Why, you ask? Because in one day, he went from no Celebration blues, to two Celebration blues. During the Friday morning session,he captured the Youth Western Trail Pleasure World Championship with Bad News’ Fantastic Cash and then he returned this evening to take home the blue in this division with Lonestar Ritz for Jan Anderson and Brandon Urad of Stephenville, Texas and Shelbyville, Tenn. Reserve in the division went to Grandy’s Rhythm Lady and Hali Stokes for the Tim Stokes family of Franklin, Tenn. Third went to Roll With The Tide and Ashley Pollack for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif.

Twenty-eight of the 30 entered made the call in the B division of the Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings, Riders 17 and Under. Huck Moss served as call judge for the division. Showing Tennessee Walking Horses has been a family affair for Franklin, Tenn.’s Robert Keenan family for many, many years. Recently, a new generation of the Keenan family has become involved as Sara has been showing on the Middle Tennessee circuit. Well, tonight she went in the history books as another Keenan who has carried out that Celebration blue as she and Spirit’s Rambling Man made an outstanding show to top the division. Perennial champion Collector’s Mr. Twister and Caroline Elliott rode to reserve honors for Nancy Elliott of Fuquay-Varina, NC. Third in the division went to the Bluegrass state with Picture Of Power and owner/exhibitor Evan Alexander of Richmond, Ky.

More young riders were on the schedule as the A division of class 50, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Ponies , 60” and Under, Riders 14 and Under, hit the track. Seventeen of the 21 scheduled made the call to work for Celebration acclaim in the division. Wayne Abee served as call judge. When the work was complete, it was a couple of familiar faces in the winner’s circle with the Classic Horse, Final Keeper and owner/exhibitor Morgan LeGate of Brentwood, Tenn., picking up the win. This win marked the THIRD consecutive year that this team has captured the title in the division. Reserve went to the Warren County, Tenn. and Wartrace, Tenn. champion, Pusher’s General and Megan Mozeley for Phyllis Mozeley of Charlotte, NC. Sweeping In Style and Brandon Derrick of Chestnut Hill, Tenn. accepted third.

Fifteen of the 20 programmed entries made the call for the B division of the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Ponies, 60” and Under, Riders 14 and Under to work for Bob Cherry and the Celebration judging staff. In this division, another Classic Horses captured top honors. Three-time WGC Silver Design and Barclay Woodward made another outstanding performance to top the division for Ronnie and Jennifer Woodward. This champion was ridden to Celebration acclaim in 2002 and 2003 by Thad Way for the J.R. Partnership of Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Franklin, Mich. and was selected by the Woodward family of Arab, Ala. earlier this summer to campaign for Celebration acclaim once again. The new team made their debut to the blue at Pulaski, Tenn.’s Red Carpet Horse Show of the South and haven’t looked back. Reserve in the division went to another successful combination, Key West and Andy Adkins, riding for grandfather John Sharp of Ethridge, Tenn. Multi-titled WGC Late Night Jazz and Jacob Baum accepted third for Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn.

Class 51, the Elite Owner-Amateur Gentleman Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings hit the ring with 19 of the 28 making the gate call. Joe Fleming served as call judge for the division. Throughout the class, one team was “bound and determined” to make that sentimental journey down victory lane tonight. It turns out, the rider, Ed Breedlove, actually made the journey last night with Jazz King. Tonight, he returned to the Celebration winner’s circle with Bound And Determined for Melissa Breedlove of Buford, Ga. Bob Medina and They Call Me Sir made a strong performance in the division to accept the reserve for Bob and Mary Medina of Skillman, NJ. Decisions, Decisions and owner/exhibitor Jeff Smith of Greer, SC received the third award.

Sixteen of the 25 with reservations made the gate call for class 52, Four-Year-Old Walking Geldings (Canter). Tommy Loid called the gaits in the division. Riding to the blue in the division was the team of He’s Dr. Cash and Jimmy McConnell for the Windsong Farm of Collierville, Tenn. High Tide At The Ritz and Robby Black made a strong performance to capture the reserve honors. Jazz Time and Vicki Self rode to third for the Mickey Adcock family of McMinnville, Tenn.

The Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Mares found 26 of the industries finest teams riding for Celebration acclaim with Huck Moss serving as call judge. Talk about a deep water division, one look around the ring and a person could spot a half dozen or more current and past World Champions. World class competition at its best, indeed! However only one could ride out as World Champion tonight and that team was the unanimous selection of the panel, the many time WC and reigning reserve WGC Miracle At The Ritz and Sandra Johnson. This win was preceded by wins at the National Trainers’ Show, the Spring Fun Show and the Woodbury, Tenn. Lions Club Show. Reserve in the division was the multi-titled WC and WGC My Jackie O and Margaret Anne Alias riding for the Ray Beech Family of Belfast, Tenn. Silverado Spirit and Erin Graf rode for third for David and Erin Graf of South Portsmouth, Ky. As I said, competition at it’s best!

Class 54 brought the Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Amateur Riders 18 Years and Over to the ring with 26 of the 37 with reservations made the gate call. Wayne Abee served as call judge for the division. Riding to the winner’s circle with a unanimous decision of the judging panel was Armed Red Baron and Joe Dixon making the winning ride for Randall and Gloria Dixon/Red Eagle Farms, Dacula, Ga. and Shelbyville, Tenn. Reserve in the division went to Gen’s Major Coin, already a 2004 World Champion with trainer Ramsey Bullington in the irons, with Sherri Pollack for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. and Shelbyville, Tenn. Mr. Chili Pepper and Patti Pollack rode to third for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch as well.

Class 55 marks the final class of the evening, Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, Riders 18 and Over. Bob Cherry served as call judge for the competitive division. Two-time Reigning WGC Double Java and trainer Scott Benham captured the Celebration honors once again in the division for Mike and Kathy Chiappari of Santa Rosa, Calif. and Shelbyville, Tenn. with an across the board selection of the judging panel. Reserve honors went to multi-titled champion Pusher’s Beaming Pride and trainer Howard Hamilton for Jim and Debbie Nichols of New Market, Tenn. The third award went to Elegance Of Design and Craig Swagerty for Nancy Lovato of West Jordan, Utah.

And once Scott Benham and Double Java make that final victory pass and photographers Jack Greene and Shane Shiflet capture that last shot, another Friday night was in the record books. What an outstanding night it was. Those that stayed around for the seventeen class schedule witnessed Tennessee Walking Horse action at its best. Yes, the session was a little long, but when else could someone see the likes of A Specialist, Final Keeper, Silver Design, The Image Of Ritz, Miracle At The Ritz, and many more all in one night. It doesn’t happen very often, even in Celebration history. It was certainly an evening to remember.

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