by Sara Watts | photos by Shane Shiflet

While it may seem like it was only yesterday that the 85th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration kicked off in Cooper Steel Arena, here we were back in Cooper Steel Arena at the Monday morning session; the final morning session of the show. The schedule featured 13 classes from trail pleasure, weanling, lite-shod, country pleasure and park pleasure divisions, along with the final equitation class of the show. 

Just like clockwork, morning announcer Travis Olinger brought the Owner-Amateur Western Trail Pleasure class to the ring at 9 a.m. Derek Bonner served as the call judge with eight of the 10 schedule entries vying for the top title. For the past three years, the popular team of Machete and Susan Coleman earned the world championship title, and this year would be no different. The team captured the title with the unanimous decision from the judging panel. Claiming the red streamer was the duo of King Mojo and Kathy Anderson, while My Black Cadillac and Allison Thorson Newman were presented with the third place honor.

The little babies made their way to the ring next in the Weanling Colts class, with 10 entries on the books working for call judge Leah Boyd. Walking down victory lane was Choo Tobacco Choo Tobacco and Chris Richards for Bobby Joe Jones of Manchester, Tennessee. This win was added to their previous world championship victory on Wednesday evening. De La Cruz and Robert Nelms were reserve for the Teel, Washburn, Jacobs and Link partnership. A Road Trip and Amanda Wright were third for the George Wright Family.

The Owner-Amateur Novice Lite-Shod class brought just two entries riding hard to get out of the novice division. When judge Nathan Clark was finished calling the gaits, and the judges’ had turned in their cards, it was the duo of Senorita Carmelita and Susie Wolfgang of Lavelle, Pennsylvania, making that coveted blue ribbon victory pass. This was the eighth season win for Senorita Carmelita. Accepting the red streamer was The Mexican Mafia and Amy Mays.

The Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Trail Pleasure contenders were next on the schedule with all seven programmed horse and rider teams making their way to the arena to work for judge David Sisk and his co-horts. Novices no more were an elated Serrano and Kara Brooke Adams for Kris Adams of Shelbyville, Tennessee. Tesorino, with Emma Woods in the irons for Harry Hicklin, accepted the reserve award, while Tempted was directed to third place by Caroline Insell.

Weanlings were back on display in the next class, Weanling Fillies, with 10 of the 15 scheduled entries beating the clock to work for the judging panel led by call judge Kenny Smith. It was Simply Timeless and Robert Nelms called from the lineup to unanimously accept the world championship title for owners Teel and Washburn of Fayetteville, Tennessee. The red streamer was accepted by Tell Me Have You Cena and Lynn Womack for Bobby Joe Jones and Dr. Roger Richards. Rounding out the top three was the Jack Heffington owned entry of Bravo! Debut with Leighanne Tibbs at the lead.

It was back to a western state of mind with three of the seven horse and rider combinations on the books walking their way up to Cooper Steel Arena in the Owner-Amateur Western Lite-Shod class. Derek Bonner handled the call judge responsibilities in the class. No stranger to the Celebration winner’s circle, it was Hello I’m Johnny Cash with Liz Thomas in the irons called to accept the world championship blue ribbon for Thomas, Tackett, Adams and Macey of San Jose, California. The Master Of Ceremonies and Terry Moran finished in reserve for the Darnell and Moran partnership, while Kiss This Girl and owner Nic Linder were presented with the third place ribbon.

The Owner-Amateur Four-Year-Old Country Pleasure class was next on the schedule with the gaits called by Leah Boyd. All six contenders listed in the program were presented, riding hard for the world championship title. Once the cards were tabulated, it was the team of Shipwrecked and Dr. Shana Hughes for Jason and Dr. Shana Hughes of Russell Springs, Kentucky, taking the blue ribbon ride. They were the 2022 Owner-Amateur Three-Year-Old Country Pleasure World Champions. A Knightime Menace and owner Vickie Moore earned the reserve ribbon, while the yellow streamer was presented to Mr. Booty and owner Darren Gray.

Staying in the country pleasure division, the next class featured the Owner-Amateur Five-Year-Old Country Pleasure horse and rider teams. Six of the eight entries in the program beat the clock, while Nathan Clark called the gaits. Bombay Sapphire PVF earned her fifth victory of the year, this one coming as a world championship with Kelly McQuerrey in the irons for the Querrey and New partnership of Needville, Texas, and Franklin, Tennessee. A-One-A and Anne Frank were reserve for the Frank and Pirolo partnership, while Capistrano and Hayle Machal graciously accepted the yellow streamer for the Machal and Reed partnership.

Country pleasure contenders stayed on center stage in the next class, Two & Three-Year-Old Country Pleasure, where eight of the 14 programmed entries made the call to work for call judge David Sisk and his co-horts. Putting on a spicy performance to earn the top honor and victory pass was Quesadilla and Joe Lester for S & P LLC of Saratoga, California. Crypto and Hannah Myatt were presented with the red streamer for Andy Rippy, while Just Like Fire and Kyle Elliott rounded out the top three places for the Bowling and Adams partnership.

Two-Year-Old Lite-Shod contenders were up next on the morning program with three entries making the call to work for judge Kenny Smith. Riding to the winner’s circle was Up Up And Away with Patrick Thomas in the irons for owner Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tennessee. This win came in their show ring debut, and as a unanimous decision from the judging panel. Michael Johnson directed She’s Rihanna to the second place finish for owners Tony and Sonya Edwards, while Sunday In Dixie and Fount Darnell claimed the yellow ribbon for owner Shane Porterfield.

Eight of the 10 scheduled horse and rider teams beat the clock in search of being novices no more. Derek Bonner handled the call judge duties in the Owner-Amateur Novice English Trail Pleasure class. Riding out of the novice division and securing that very first coveted Celebration blue was Resurgence and Sarah Beth Thomas of Wartrace, Tennessee. She’s Venomous and Kelly Querrey accepted the reserve honor, while He’s A Knight Rider and Andrea Coleman finished in the third spot for Russ and Andrea Coleman.

The Owner-Amateur Five & Under Park Pleasure contenders were next with six of the nine programmed entries making the call to exhibit as Leah Boyd called gaits. When the work was complete, it was My Masarati Alfieri and Alli Gipson earning the blue ribbon victory pass for Zack and Alli Gipson of Tuscumbia, Alabama. The reserve streamers were awarded to the team of Tennessee Gin and Gabe Humiston for Ruth Ann and Gabe Humiston. Lisa Baum was aboard Late Night At The Ritz to claim the third place honor.

The final class of the Monday morning performance, and the morning sessions of the 85th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was Adult Equitation (Canter). Both of the programmed entries made the gate call to work as Nathan Clark served as the call judge. Showing excellent poise and making the unanimous winning stroll was Allison Thorson Newman. This win makes her ninth Adult Equitation World Championship; a monumental feat indeed. Brooklyn Fuss earned the red streamer to close out the 2023 morning sessions.