by Jennifer Maack-Condren

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Missouri Entertainment and Events Center (formerly the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds) in Springfield, Mo., was the setting for the Heart of America Walking Horse Spring Classic, June 5-7, 2008. A total of 186 entries were presented for Judge John Mohon of Petersburg, Tenn., to tie during the 55-class show. This number was up 10 percent from last year’s event. Mae Maack, secretary of HAWHA, served as show manager, and with the assistance of Susie Graham running the office, all three performances went off without a hitch.

Thursday evening’s highlights included the Aged Mare & Gelding class win by The Golden Sceptor and Jerry Manes for Ward and Betty McKnight. Brad Huffman added another win to his resume with PJ’s Pusher in the Aged Stallion class. The Four-Year-Old Open Specialty class brought out some tough competitors as Tom Burton directed Shock Hazard to the winner’s circle for Ed and Darlene Swaringim.

The largest class of the night was the Open Amateur class. Historically this class has not been a class that would be considered “full”. This year is certainly a change in history as it was one of the most competitive classes at the show. Tamee LeNeve-Heiman made a flawless performance with Talk Is Cheap to capture the blue. Another competitive class was the Ladies Amateur Specialty class in which Glenda Nichols and Delightful Romeo came out on top for Mrs. Glen Campbell.

Friday evening’s performances included the always-competitive juvenile classes. Five determined riders made the gate call for the 11 & Under class. Lindsey Mott and Dangerous Dancer came out on top of this tough class for McCall/Clamp Stables under the watchful eye of Don Bills. In the Juvenile 12-17 division, Hayley Miller directed Magic Impression to the winner’s circle for Dr. and Mrs. Glenn DeGraffenreid under the Jim Huffman banner.

The Three-Year-Old Amateur class was also full of top-notch horses. Elvin Sapp and Ideal Sundust received the judge’s nod in the class for Elvin and Geri Sapp. Proud new owner Terry Manier directed his new horse, The All American Princess, to the Four-Year-Old Amateur Specialty title. Trigger Cash is no stranger to the winner’s circle and Mollie Turner-Wells rode with determination to add another win to his long list of titles by capturing the 15.2 & Under Amateur Specialty win. Both these entries are trained by Don Bills Stables.

The usual Saturday night Stake night anticipation was noticeable as many exhibitors arrived early to the show for “watch parties” of the Belmont Stakes. Focus soon switched to the business at hand and an evening of good classes of top horses. The Juvenile Specialty Stake hosted nine determined riders vying for a championship title. Magic Impression and Hayley Miller made it a repeat performance of Friday night’s class as she was called to the winner’s circle for the title.

Nine entries were called to the ring in the 50 & Over Amateur Specialty class and when all was said and done, Patty Ayers and The First Command came out on top of the good field of horses. This duo is prepared by Don Bills Stables. Floyd Posenke claimed his second blue of the show with The Grandy’s Titan as he walked away with the Park Pleasure Stake title. Magical Miss Emily and Brad Huffman captured the Two-Year-Old Stake title for Dean Scott and made a quick change to support Susie Graham and Coin’s Noelle for the Trainer’s Family class win.

The Amateur Specialty class was full of ability and talent as well. Delightful Romeo and Glenda Nichols received the judge’s tie in the tough class for Mrs. Glen Campbell. Tom Burton and Delight’s Gold Pusher earned the Three-Year-Old Stake title for Bill and Sherri Huffman. The Amateur Stake class boasted seven entries. This class has continued to grow all year. Debbie Murray directed Grande’ to the winner’s circle for Rick Morrison and June Clark under the Brad Huffman banner.
The final gate call was for the Walking Horse Championship class. The six contenders were called in individually for their championship performance. Each fine entry was backed by a cheering section. Margaret Hickman directed Extra Stock to claim the blue and the title for the John and Ruth Ann Wood-Humiston family. Jim Huffman and Victory Colors made their performance look easy as they received the reserve title honors for Jim and Donna Huffman. Brad Huffman and PJ’s Pusher received the third place tie for Dean Scott.

Show officials, trainers, exhibitors and spectators were certainly pleased with the caliber of entries presented at this show and felt is was a success. This show was a benefit for One Missing Link, an international organization that assists families with missing children and loved ones. A special thank you was given to the volunteers who assisted with the show.

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