By Melissa R. Stevens

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - A large and vocal crowd gathered at Calsonic Arena for the start of the 65th annual TWHBEA Futurity competition. Paul Watlington, Jamie Hankins, Gene Carswell, Mike Carpenter and Laura Brandon met in center ring to handle the judging duties for the evening. Quality entries and tough competition was the order for the evening.

Nine talented entries making the gate call for the Youth Medallion Championship. Eighteen entries had originally entered the championship. Gene Carswell had the duty of call judge for this class. Maria Derickson riding An American Outlaw was called to make the victory pass. Erica Derickson aboard Miami Heat took the reserve tie followed by Erica Hartlein on Solid Silver.

The Two-Year-Old Park Stallions, Mares and Geldings class was next with seven stunning entries making the call. Jamie Hankins was the call judge for the class. Forever Spirit owned by Billy and Sue Dean of Bell Buckle, Tenn., was awarded the first place tie followed by The Grand Liza Jane, owned by Phillip S. Cohen of Naples, Fla. The Mariella Fugger owned entry, Vengence With Pride took the third place ribbon.

Muchacha Grande, an entry of Lindy Holt of Bell Buckle, Tenn., took the blue in a large class of 23 Weanling Fillies. Muchacha Grande was sired by The Grand Collection and out of Cash's Polyanna. Blue's Lady Pusher, owned by Ronnie Rummage of Columbia, Tenn., was reserve. This entry was sired by Friday Night Blues and out of Gen's Black Lady Pusher. Major General's Delta Dash, a property of Nancy K. Lovato of West Jordan, Utah, took the third place tie.

Seven Three-Year-Old Park Stallions, Mares and Geldings answered the gate call. Laura Brandon was the call judge for the class. Owner/exhibitor Terry Vaught aboard Jubilee's Pushover was called to the winner's circle with the first unanimous tie of the evening. Jubilee's Pushover was sired by The Pushover and is out of Jubilee's My Papa V. Tex's Choice, a property of Jimmy Hamilton of Wetumpka, Ala., was reserve followed by Touch Of Papa in third. Touch Of Papa is owned by Katherine Owen of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Twenty entries took to the ring in the Two-Year-Old Mares and Geldings class to the sounds of a jubilant crowd. Mike Carpenter was the call judge for the class. Neon Bright, an entry of W.H. Hill of Powder Springs, Ga., was called to make the victory pass. Sweepstakes Wine And Roses, the entry of Iris Schuman and Nancy Lovato of Shelbyville, Tenn., and West Jordan, Utah, respectively, was reserve. The property of Billy and Sue Dean of Bell Buckle, Tenn., Better Be Bold rounded out the top three spots.

Twenty-two entries answered the call in the Yearling Fillies class. Gene Carswell was assigned the duty of call judge. Encore's Magic Lady, owned by Hoyte Eakes of Nashville, Tenn., was called to the winner's circle in a talent filled class. Cotton's Power Pusher took reserve for Dillon Potter of Shelbyville, Tenn. Jose's Glamour Girl was third for Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Brantley of Wartrace, Tenn.

Revealing Fashion, an entry of W.W. Harlin, Jr., of Franklin, Tenn., took first out of a class of 12 talented Two-Year-Old Lite-Shod Stallions, Mares and Geldings. Jamie Hankins accepted the duty of call judge for the class. Papa's Show Girl, owned by James E. Nichols of Oxford, Miss., was reserve. Xtreme Command, a property of Kim Bailey of Lynchburg, Tenn., took home the third place award.

Miss Sweepstakes USA, a property of Donnie Taylor of Rock Island, Tenn., was called to the winner's circle out of a class of 15 fine Three-Year-Old Mares and Geldings. The Ray Beech entry, Jackie O's My Sister was a close reserve followed by Gen's Dixie Crystals, a property of Paige Edwards of Dawson, Ga. Paul Watlington was the call judge in this large class.

A large class of 26 talented entries answered the gate call in the Weanling Colts class. Mike Carpenter assumed the duties of call judge. Fourteen fine entries were asked to remain for an additional workout in this class to aid the judges in making their final decision. In the end, Have No Fear, a property of Freda and Bobby Jones of Manchester, Tenn., showed no fear as he beat out the remaining 13 entries to take home the blue. Worldwide Willie was reserve for owners Jake and Luke Washburn of Fayetteville, Tenn., followed by So U Wish, owned by Ty Irby of Mobile, Ala.

Wishing for Cash was called to the winner's circle in the Three-Year-Old Lite-Shod Stallions, Mares and Geldings class for owner Kathy Owen of Double Springs Farm in Murfreesboro, Tenn., besting a large class of 13 entries. An MG Classy Chasis, a property of Linda Johnson, Paul Schneider and Laurie Toone, followed close behind for reserve. A Classical Jazz rounded out the top three spots for owners Nancy Yonko and Jeff Ray of Sherwood, Ore.

The crowd went wild when a class of 12 headshaking Two-Year-Old Stallions entered the ring. Gene Carswell was given the responsibility of being the call judge. Make no mistake about it, the judges had a tough job in this class. With only the second unanimous tie of the evening, General Splash ridden by Joe Cotten for owner David Landrum of Franklin, Tenn., was called to the winner's circle. Back To The Ritz, for owner James Vernon of Booneville, Miss., was called for reserve. Peyton Manning, an entry owned by Roger D. Richards of Hendersonville, Tenn., followed in third to finish this exciting class.

Next up was the Yearling Colts class. Jamie Hankins was the call judge for the 24 entries in this class. The Texas Lexus, a property of 4-J Land and Cattle Company of Waynesville, Mo., was chosen to wear the blue from the ring. Black Diamond Ritz for Roger Richards and Bobby and Freda Jones was called for reserve followed by Copy's Turbo rounding out the top three for J.T. and Bob Nelms of College Grove, Tenn.

The final class of the evening was the Three-Year-Old Stallions class. Fifteen entries entered the ring to compete for the blue. Laura Brandon was the call judge for the class. The Titleist, a property of William B. and Sandra Johnson of Atlanta, Ga., was called for the victory pass. Prime Poison, owned by Harvey Carlon of Lowell, Mich., was a strong reserve. Quattro, a property owned by Paul Bryan of Thomasville, Ga., finished out the top three.

The 65th annual TWHBEA Futurity was an evening to remember. Exhibitors from around the country descended on Shelbyville, Tenn., filling Calsonic Arena with top quality horses and an air of excitement for the coming days. If this year's futurity was any indication of the future of the walking horse breed, we're in for a treat.