By Mark Davis


            Well, it’s Friday Night in Shelbyville and where would anyone rather be than at the 68th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.  As the time quickly approached 7 pm, the press box gave a birds eye view of preparations going on in center ring, people moving to their seats with dinner and stopping to visit old friends they might not have seen since last year. 

            As tradition holds, promptly at 7pm, The Celebration’s official flag horse Counterfeit Dollar and WGC rider Bud Seaton ride down the chute and take center stage with our nation’s colors for the opening ceremonies.  The evening’s invocation was given by Jeff Smith, pastor of the Southside Church of Christ, Shelbyville, Tenn., and absolutely beautiful rendition of the national anthem was performed on the trumpet by Jeff Perkins of Lynnville, Tenn.

            Just as the Youth Riders 11 and Under on Walking Mares is the traditional beginning of the first Thursday evening performance, Friday night always starts with the Youth Riders 11 and Under on Walking Geldings and tonight would be no exception.  Up first, class 46A, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 on Walking Geldings with 14 of the 22 with reservations taking the journey down the hill to the historic big oval to work as Judge Jamie Bradshaw called the gaits in the split.  No stranger’s to the winner’s circle, 2004 World Champions in this division, Sanman and Benjamin Bowen were back there once again tonight with a unanimous decision of the panel for proud granddad, Larry Russell of Pontotoc, Miss.  This victory was preceded with 2006 wins at Tupelo, Miss.’ Faith Haven Horse Show, Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Central High School Band Boosters Horse Show and Spring Fun Show, Murfreesboro, Tenn.’s Bethesda Horse Show and Lewisburg, Tenn.’s Marshall County Horse Show. General Splash and owner/exhibitor Lindsey Landrum of Franklin, Tenn., made a very striking performance to garner the reserve honors.  Hurricane Rain and Tyler Baucom were third for Sandy Good and Tyler Baucom of Harrisonburg, Va., and Monroe, N.C. 

            Class 46B, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 on Walking Geldings promised to be just as tough and just as entertaining as 17 of the 21 programmed entries made their way to the track.  Judge Wink Groover served as Call Judge in the division.  Well, it’s definately in his genes!  Chad Cotten, son of WGC trainer Joe Cotten and Carlen Cotten entered the show ring in 2006 and came into Shelbyville undefeated with wins at Marshall, Texas’ Charity Lions Club Horse Show, Cookeville, Tenn.’s Upper Cumberland Horse Show, Eagleville, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show and McMinnville, Tenn.’s Warren County Horse Show.  His undefeated status continued at The Celebration topping this division.  Flashy Cash and Rachel Hyneman picked up the red streamers for Hy-Steppin’ Farms of Germantown, Tenn.  Hailey Puckett and Bold Stroke’s Attraction of Wartrace, Tenn., were third.

            Prior to the call of class 47, The Celebration’s Center Ring Announcer and Director of Pubic Relations Chip Walters announced that the show was being delayed due to the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association, The Celebration and the United States Department Of Agriculture were entering a period of Conflict Resolution.  At approximately 8:25 pm, Walters made a follow up announcement stating that the parties involved were continuing talks and that a decision would be made regarding tonight’s performance within the next 10 minutes.  When Walters returned, the news was not good.  He announced that The Celebration had made the decision to postpone the remainder of the Friday evening performance, and the time the classes would be held had not been determined as of yet.  He continued to say that the show would resume Saturday morning at 9 am in Calsonic Arena.

            While this announcement did bring some in the crowd by surprise and certainly was a disappointment for those scheduled to show later this evening, hopefully negotiations can continue throughout the evening and a proper resolution can be found.

            Keep watch on our website, www.walkinghorsereport,com, to find the  most current information regarding this situation and its resolution.