By Mark Davis
The first Wednesday of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is always highlighted by the Futurity and 2011 is no exception. This event gives the industry an opportunity to take a look at the talent of the future in one setting – across all divisions, under halter, Country Pleasure, Trail Pleasure, Lite Shod, Classic Pleasure, Park Pleasure and Performance.

The Futurity is managed by The Celebration uses the Celebration judges and officials and classes qualify for Celebration Championships.

The judges for the Futurity include Jennifer Bingham of Shelbyville, Tenn., Jamie Bradshaw of Union Grove, Ala., Jamie Hankins of Paris, Ky., Ronnie Spears of Tullahoma, Tenn., and Jeff Willis of Shelbyville, Tenn.

The evening got underway with class 1, TWHBEA/WHTA Youth Challenge Class (Canter). One entry made the gate call to show off all three gaits of the Tennessee Walking Horse. Judge Jennifer Bingham served as Call Judge. Topping the division was Showboat’s Silk and Alex Way riding for Beard, Martin & Way of Troy, Ala. & Shelbyville, Tenn.

Two and Three-Year-Old Country Pleasure Stallions, Mares and Geldings, class 2 on the evening’s schedule, was up next with 11 of the 21 nominated making the gate call. Making the victory ride was MC Magee, owned by Diana M. Popp of Shelbyville, Tenn. Oops Peek A Boo pulled into the second position for Laurale Lowery of Hendersonville, Tenn. Bobbin’ That Head, owned by James and Evelyn Durant of Cornersville, Tenn., was third.

The babies made their way to the track for class 3, Weanling Fillies and Colts – Foaled October 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011. Seventeen of the 63 nominated showed their very best for the judging panel. Walking their way to the winner’s circle and accomplishing their mission was Mission Accomplished, owned by Jerry L. Stephens of Manchester, Tenn. Flirtin’ To Win collected the red streamers for Lisa D. Washburn of Fayetteville, Tenn. Dark’s Sweet Dream rounded out the top three for Valton Rummage of Columbia, Tenn.

Six of the 11 with reservations in class 4, Two-Year-Old Trail Pleasure Stallions, Mares and Geldings (Optional Tack), made their way to Calsonic Arena to show their stuff. Capturing the acclaim was Tapatio’, owned by Douglas G. Toone of Spangle, Wash. Out of The Park, owned by Jason A. or Karen M. Bachert of Wildwood, Mo., was reserve in the class. Power Threat’s Black Magic was third for James Todd of Tullahoma, Tenn.

Class 5 brought the performance horses to the track for the Two-Year-Old Mares and Geldings with thirteen of the 36 nominated making the gate call. Proving that winning moves and blue ribbons are always in style, it was Always In Style topped this good class for Harbert Alexander of Jackson, Tenn. A Real Country Girl, owned by G. Russell Wright & Son of Old Hickory, Tenn., pulled into the second position, while Labeled In Bay, owned by Joseph A. & Mary E. Alvarez of Olympia, Wash., was third.

The babies were back for class 6, Weanling Fillies – Foaled April 1, 2011 – August 1, 2011. Eleven of the 43 nominated came in front of judging panel. Walking away with the roses was Intimidator’s Cover Girl, owned by Andrew Waites & Brian Wright of Hattiesburg, Miss. & Lebanon, Tenn. Snookie Majors, owned by Nathan & April Mills of Donelson, Tenn., was reserve in the division, while She’s Cashed In, owned by David A. Lewis of Manchester, Tenn., rounded out the top three.

It was time to head back under saddle for class 7, Two-Year-Old Lite Shod Stallions, Mares and Geldings (Optional Tack). Four of the 11 nominated made the call and proving to be superior to all the rest, Superiority topped the division for owner Ann Forrester of South Fulton, Tenn. Watchin For The Storm, owned by Scott & Renee Stasiewicz of Dousman, Wisc., was reserve in the class. Smack Back In Command was third for Lynda Vance of Taft, Tenn.

Ten of the 45 expected for class 8, Weanling Colts, Foaled April 1, 2011 – August 1, 2011 were on hand. Earning the approval of the judging panel was Oh Pancho Oh Cisco, owned by Rodger D. Richards of Hendersonville, Tenn. Rumble Of The Storm walked his way into the second position for Bobbikay & Ken Hein of Murfreesboro, Tenn. Jazz On My Mind, owned by Carole Hargett, pulled in for the yellow streamers.

Class 9 brought the Two-Year-Old Stallions into Calsonic Arena to entertain the Futurity crowd. Nine of the 33 nominated took the rail and taking top honors back to the Bluegrass state was It’s Gin Again for Virgil G. Dryden of Cynthiana, Ky. This young horse preceded this win with victories at Ewing, Ky. & Greenup, Ky. Black Gin’s Diamond was reserve in the competitive division for Hoyte Eakes-Hidden Acres Farm of Nashville, Tenn. Headed back to the Palmetto state, El Casanova, property of Vickie S. Penick of Walterboro, S.C., was third.

It was back to the halter division for class 10, Yearling Fillies. Twenty-three of the 82 nominated made the gate call. The starring attraction was She’s Lined With Stars taking the top honors for Keith Reed & Bob Lawrence of Readyville, Tenn. This top young filly collected top honors earlier this month at the Belfast Lions Club Horse Show. Diamond Heirloom was second in the division for Bobby Joe Jones of Manchester, Tenn. Gimme A Honky Tonk Girl pulled in for the third award for Dr. Roger Richards of Hendersonville, Tenn.

The Trail Pleasure entries were up next on the evening’s schedule in class 11, Three-Year-Old Trail Pleasure Stallions, Mares and Geldings. Twelve of the 23 on the official program worked for their chance to ride away with the Futurity roses & blue. Good Til The Last Drop rose to the top with a unanimous decision for James & Dawn Payne of Graham, N.C. Petal Pushin Jazz was reserve for Lauren Hamilton of Cedar Grove, Tenn., while I’m Manhatten, the property of Tamara D. Hader of Bainbridge, Ga., was third.

Class 12 brought the Two and Three-Year-Old Classic Park Pleasure Stallions, Mares and Geldings  to the rack with five of the 14 nominated beating the clock. Lined With Promise, owned by Steve & Charlotte Icardi of Corinth, Miss., made the strong show to carry the Futurity honors home to the Magnolia State. Touch This Gunn was second for Randall T. Baker of Lewisburg, Tenn. Miss Cheyenne collected the golden streamers for Larry Mesimer & Roger Richards of Concord, N.C. & Hendersonville, Tenn.

The Yearling Colts were up next on the evening’s agenda with 14 entries making the gate call to show their walking ways. Knocking it out of the park  was Albert’s Homer, owned by Alan H. & Jason A. Bachert of Shelbyville, Tenn. Walkin’ Down The Line was reserve for G. Russell Wright & Son of Old Hickory, Tenn. I’m Gene Autry was third for Freda & Bobby Joe Jones and Roger Richards of Manchester & Hendersonville, Tenn.

Class 14 brought the Three-Year-Old Lite Shod Stallions, Mares and Geldings up to the big oval with eight of the 17 nominated making the gate call. I’m Gunn Powder And Lead rode to the winner’s circle with a unanimous decision for Randall T. Baker of Lewisburg, Tenn. Headed back Missouri way, I Want My Papa pulled into the second position for 4-J Land & Cattle Company of Waynesville, Mo. Miss Red Sox rounded out the top three for Laurie Toone & Liz Gassaway of Shelbyville, Tenn.

The Three-Year-Old Mares and Geldings, class 15, was up next with six entries coming to work. Riding away with the win and all the honors was The Sky Queen, owned by Robert C. Gullic of Harrisburg, Ill. Labeled At Midnight was reserve for Joseph A. & Mary E. Alvarez of Olympia, Wash. Another Alvarez owned entry, Mariposa, was third.

Class 16 featured the Yearling In-Hand Extended Gait class. This class was added to the Futurity  several years ago to highlight the four-beat running walk gait for which the Tennessee Walking Horse is famous. Seven entries made the call to work for top honors. Topping the division and picking up his second win of the night was Albert’s Homer, owned by Alan & Jason Bachert of Shelbyville, Tenn. Diamond Heirloom was reserve in the event for Bobby Joe Jones of Manchester, Tenn. Dark’s Sweet Surprize was third for Ronald K. Morton of Hampshire, Tenn.

The final class and highlight of the evening was class 17, Three-Year-Old Stallions with seven of the 29 nominated making the call. Riding away with the final blue of the evening was Prime Country, the entry of Robby Hewitt & Tyler Baucom of Timmonsville, S.C. & Monroe, N.C. Masq Of Jazz, owned by Joe Martin of Shelbyville, Tenn., was a popular reserve in the event. Ritz’s Loose Change, owned by J. Fred Johnston of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., rounded out the top three.

With a final victory pass and a final picture by photographer Shane Shiflet, the 73rd Annual  Futurity was in the record books, and another successful show it was with an increase of 40 entries over 2010. It certainly displays that the future for our Tennessee Walking Horse Industry certainly is very bright!