by Mark Davis

With a cool breeze blowing through Calsonic Arena, it almost seemed like fall rather than Celebration time, but no one was complaining as it was a welcome change from the 100 degree temperatures that usually greet the opening of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.
     To get the 72nd Annual Celebration underway, the Wednesday morning schedule featured 15 classes from the Model, Country Pleasure, Trail Pleasure, Lite Shod and Park Pleasure divisions.
     The judges include Spencer Benedict of Glasgow, Ky., Jennifer Bingham of Shelbyville, Tenn., Mike Carpenter of Franklin, Tenn., Nathan Clark of Arab, Ala., and Tommy Loid of Bowling Green, Ky.
     Finally, it was horse show time in Shelbyville and the morning performance got underway, as normal, with Model Pleasure Mares, with all 11 of the expected entries making the gate call, all shined up and ready to go, as Judge Spencer Benedict led the panel as they walked the lineup for conformation judging.  Picking up the first win of the 2010 Celebration, with a unanimous decision, was Hot Silk, with Robert Nelms at the lead for Carole Hargett of Shelbyville, Tenn.  This marked the duo’s sixth 2010 win with previous wins at the Cookeville, Tenn. PWHAT Show and four wins at the International Grand Championships. Pulling in to accept the red streamers was Gen’s If Looks Could Kill and Beverly Lamp also leading for the very proud Carole Hargett.  Legally Armed Blonde and Jeff Givens were third for Janice & Evan Plyer of Matthews, N.C.
     Class two brought the Owner-Amateur English Trail Pleasure up to Calsonic Arena with 14 of the 19 programmed entries working as Judge Jennifer Bingham called the gaits.  Riding to the win, in a new division for 2010, was the 2009 Western Lite Shod World Grand Champion Red Sundays Best and Liz Gassaway to the winner’s circle for Liz Gassaway and Laurie Toone of Bell Buckle & Shelbyville, Tenn.  The duo made their 2010 debut at the Wartrace, Tenn. Horse Show, taking the win in the Trail Pleasure division.  I’m Rose Walker and owner/exhibitor Lauren Hamilton of Cedar Grove, Tenn., carried reserve honors back to West Tennessee.  Headed out west with the yellow streamers were The Wicked Master and Sheryl Volkman riding for John & Sheryl Volkman of Livermore, Calif.
     Fourteen of the 15 with reservations made their way up from the warm up ring for Class three, Amateur Owned and Trained Lite Shod Walking Horses.  Judge Mike Carpenter served as Call Judge.  Making the million-dollar performance to top the competitive division and take the win home to the Show Me state for the second consecutive year was Gen’s Million Dollar Baby and owner/exhibitor Jimmy Laughlin of Waynesville, Mo.  Keeping it all in the family, Betty Laughlin and Armed Scarlett Lady pulled into the second position for 4-J Land & Cattle Company of Waynesville, Mo.  Push To Strike and owner/exhibitor Ralph Bowling of Liberty, W.V. were third.
     The young riders were up next on the schedule for class 4, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Park Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings.  All five of the expected teams made the gate call to work as Judge Nathan Clark led the judging panel.  Taking back the second consecutive win for the Laughlin Family, JFK’s Fancy Lady Leslie and Jesse Laughlin made the winning performance for the second consecutive year taking honors home to Waynesville, Mo.  This win was preceded by 2010 wins on the Midwest circuit at the HAWHA Spring Classic, the Mid West Trainers’ Association Spring Show and the Laclede County, Mo., Horse Show.  Gotham’s Dark Knight and Ashley Gordon pulled in for the red ribbons for Kelly Gordon of Orange, Calif.  Rodney Dangerfield and Chandler Byrom were in the third position for Wardell Head and Chandler Byrom of Wisner, La. & Bell Buckle, Tenn.
     It was time to get in the western way for the first time of the 72nd Celebration for class 5, Owner-Amateur Riders on Western Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Four Years and Under.  Five of the 10 programmed entries beat the timer to work for their moment in the spotlight under the watchful eye of Judge Tommy Loid and his panel.  He may have been “the man in black”, but today the color was blue as Hello, I’m Johnny Cash and owner/exhibitor Jacob Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn., garnered the World Championship win with a unanimous decision. The duo added this win to a 2010 resume that included a win at the Tony Rice Horse Show and good reserves at the Cornersville, Tenn. Horse Show and the Marshall County Horse Show. Firestone’s Bobby B and Rachel Burch were second in the section for Warren & Burch of Lewisburg, Tenn.  Cashing In At The Ritz and Betty Laughlin were third for Joe Laughlin of Waynesville, Mo.
     The Country Pleasure entries made their first appearance in Calsonic Arena for class 6A, Owner-Amateur English Country Pleasure Walking Horses with all 16 entries in the official Lions Club program working to the track as Judge Spencer Benedict called the gaits for the split.  Dancing their way down victory lane was the team of Dancing Under The Stars and Emily McElreath riding for Emily McElreath & Allie Brown of Jackson, Mo.  This win was preceded by blue ribbon showings at Humboldt, Tenn.’s West Tennessee Strawberry Festival Horse Show and Lebanon, Tenn.’s Betty Freeman Memorial Horse Show.  Headed back to the Bluegrass with reserve were A Royal Attraction and Jackie Osborne up for Jackie Osborne & Nick Rippy of Bowling Green, Ky. & Greenbrier, Tenn.  Lion King and Maggie Moore pulled in for the golden streamers for Judy Leek & Maggie Moore of Cedar Creek, Texas & Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Thirteen of the 16 expected made the gate call for class 6B, Owner-Amateur English Country Pleasure Walking Horses.  Judge Jennifer Bingham served as Call Judge.  Riding to the winner’s circle for the second time of the morning performance was Liz Gassaway and A Red Ruby taking home the win for Mackenzie Morgan and Liz Gassaway of Bell Buckle & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Vigor’s Dixie Chick and Jared Carrier were in the second spot in the class for Rhonda Thorson of Huron, Ohio.  Dirks Bentley and Ashley Say were third for Margo Urad & Ashley Say of Rockwall, Texas and Fairview, Tenn.
     The Western entries were back for class 7, Western Lite Shod Walking Horses (Canter) with three of the five expected working to the track to show off all three of the gaits that the Tennessee Walking Horse is famous for (flat walk, running walk & canter) as Judge Mike Carpenter led the judging panel.  Repeating their 2009 win in the event and adding to their 2010 resume, which features wins at Woodbury, Tenn. & the FAST Showcase, Honor My Cash & Patrick Thomas captured the win for Mr. & Mrs. Don Parmer of Elizabethtown, Pa.  Justifiable and Laurie Toone were reserve for Kasey Kesselring & Laurie Toone of Montverde, Fla. & Bell Buckle, Tenn.  Rain’s Dude and owner/exhibitor Carmen Lucas – Frank of Montpelier, Va. were third.
     Back in the Trail Pleasure division, class 8 featured the Owner-Amateur English or Western Trail Pleasure, Two Years Old with 15 of the 17 programmed entries beating the clock to work under the watchful eye of Judge Nathan Clark and his staff.  Good Til The Last Drop and Ashley Say of Fairview, Tenn., were just that as they made a stellar performance to make the victory pass with a unanimous decision. Teenie Bikini and Liz Gassaway pulled into the second spot for Kasey Kesselring, Kathy Zeis & Liz Gassaway of Montverde, Fla., Douglasville, Ga. & Shelbyville, Tenn.
The Midnight Ride and Jared Carrier accepted the golden streamers for Chip Carrier of Franklin, Ky.
     All three of the expected entries for class 9, Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Five Years and Over, made the gate call and showed their very best as Judge Tommy Loid called the gaits.  Taking the World Championship honors back down Louisiana way were Tijuana Tex and Darden Gladney up for Gladney Farms of Homer, La. This duo has already had a very successful 2010 show season with wins at Lebanon, Tenn.’s WHOA Spring Horse Show, the Spring Fun Show, Woodbury, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show and the International Grand Championships.  Paroled and owner/exhibitor Angela Tuck of Reidsville, N.C. picked up the reserve honors, while Samurai Sky and Jackie Byrom were third for Julie Cole of Shelbyville, Tenn.
     The Novice riders made their first appearance for the 2010 Celebration in class 10, Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Park Pleasure Walking Mares with eight of the nine on the entry sheets working to ride their way out of the Novice division and pick up their very first Celebration blue.  Judge Spencer Benedict served as Call Judge for the division.  Making that first sentimental journey down victory lane with a unanimous decision was Disarmed and Casee Bush riding for Joan Kemp & Casee Bush of Dora, Ala.  Still a novice for another day, Evil Patty Grey and Sally Reiley pulled in to pick up the red streamers for Dick & Sally Reiley of Lewisburg, Tenn.  Another Miss Scored and owner/exhibitor Angela Tuck of Reidsville, N.C. were third.
     Back in the Trail Pleasure division, all 14 of the entries in the official Lions Club program made their way up from the warm up ring to work in class 11, Amateur Owned and Trained Western Trail Pleasure, No Professional Training within 90 days as Judge Jennifer Bingham called the gaits.  Picking up the unanimous win was the team of Santa Emelia and owner/exhibitor Jared Carrier of Franklin, Ky. This duo already complied a lengthy resume with wins at the Columbia Spring Jubliee, the FAST Showcase and the International Grand Championships. Legend Of Stan The Man and Jimmy Laughlin were reserve for 4-J Land & Cattle Company & Gary Hill of Waynesville, Mo.  Jose’s Sweet & Spicey and Lisa Weaver pulled in for the yellow ribbon for Fred & Lisa Weaver of Doyline, La.
     Class 12A brought the Owner-Amateur Western Country Pleasure Horses to the track with 19 of the 20 on the books working under the watchful eye of Judge Mike Carpenter and his cohorts.  After picking up the win in the English Country Pleasure division earlier today, A Red Ruby and Liz Gassaway proved they were just as impressive in western attire as they returned to top this division as well for Mackenzie Morgan & Liz Gassaway of Bell Buckle & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Vigor’s Dixie Chick and Jared Carrier pulled in for the red streamers for Rhonda Thorson of Huron, Ohio.  A Royal Attraction and Jackie Osborne were third for Jackie Osborne & Nick Rippy of Bowling Green, Ky. & Greenbrier, Tenn.
     Owner-Amateur Western Country Pleasure Horses, class 12B, were up next on the schedule with 17 of the 21 programmed entries making the gate call to work for World Championship acclaim as Judge Nathan Clark called the gaits.  Topping the section was the stylish team of Cowboy On Parole and Beth Sims riding for the Mike Chiappari Family of Santa Rosa, Calif. & Bell Buckle, Tenn.  Headed back to the Show Me state with reserve was the team of Dancing Under The Stars and Emily McElreath riding for Emily McElreath & Allie Brown of Jackson, Mo.  Downright Wicked and owner/exhibitor Jana Anderson of Shelbyville, Tenn., were third in the section.
     After a quick drag of the track, compliments of the “Big Orange” Kubota tractor, it was time to call for the final class of the morning performance, class 13, Lite Shod Driving, 2 or 4 Wheel Vehicle.  All six of the expected entries made their way to the fresh track to work for Judge Tommy Loid and his staff.  Riding to the win was Wallace Brandon & Music City Jass driving for Laura Brandon of Franklin, Tenn.  Score’s Heartbreaker and owner/exhibitor Kathy Owen of Murfreesboro, Tenn., pulled into the reserve spot.  Generator’s Evil Outbreak and owner/exhibitor Mary Helen Martin of Liberty, S.C. were third.
     With that final victory pass complete, the opening session of the 72nd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was in the record books.  We will return to Calsonic Arena on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday for morning performances, starting at 9 am each day, and get things underway in the big oval promptly at 7 pm on Thursday evening.  Come be a part of history in the making at the world’s greatest horse show, The Celebration.