By Mark Davis


            It’s Sunday night in Shelbyville and with a little luck maybe the evening performance can be completed without any rain!  Now, this reporter certainly understands how desprately rain is needed in Middle Tennessee, but could it at least give us a little break between the hours of 7 pm and 11 pm.

            Even with the rain, last night was certainly exciting!  The Aged Stallions were everything they were expected to be and more.  The McConnell Brothers had Master Of Jazz and Star at their very best winning the A & B divisions respectively.  But, don’t think for a moment it will be a two horse race.  Keeping it in the family, Knox Blackburn and Private Charter will be working hard to move up from reserve, as will Bill Bobo and Rowdy Rev. Then, there was PGA and Jose’s Intimidator right behind in the third positions.  The competition will be hot.  It just makes the anticipation build that much more for next Saturday night.

            However, there’s still a big night of competition ahead tonight with 15 classes highlighted by the Youth Riders 12-14, Four-Year-Old Stallions and Aged Mares.

            The judges for the 69th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration were Mike Carpenter of Franklin, Tenn., Allen Forman of Thomson, Ga., Justin Jenne’ of Lewisburg, Tenn., Sam Sorrell of Lexington, Ky., and Ronnie Spears of Tullahoma, Tenn.

            First, the evening’s opening ceremonies get underway with Counterfeit Dollar and Bud Seaton presenting the colors promptly at 7 p.m.  The invocation for the evening performance was given by Bro. Kevin Minchey of First Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Tenn., followed by the performance of the National Anthem by Jon Brock of Shelbyville, Tenn. 

            Opening the schedule was Class 52, one of the classes rescheduled from Friday night, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, Classic Horses 15 Years and Over.  Eight of the 13 with reservations made the call to work for top honors in the division as Judge Justin Jenne’ called the gaits.  Proving that he still knows how to push all the right buttons after all these years, the multi-titled Mister Pushbutton and Candy Butler rode to the top of the event for the second consecutive year with a unanimous decision of the panel for Glen & Virgie Crutchfield of Memphis, Tenn. Final’s Eb Tide and Sherri Pollack were reserve for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Brett Jones and Generator’s Champion rode in for the yellow streamers for Brett & Lisa Jones of Tylertown, Miss.  It’s pretty impressive when one considers that these three horses, at 15+ years of age can not only compete on a high level in this division, but they are all shown throughout the year, even winning Walking Horse Stake classes across the nation.

            Fourteen of the 40 originally entered made the call for the second make up class of the evening, Class 55, Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Pleasure Walking Horses.  Judge Mike Carpenter served as Call Judge in the division.  Pitchin’ the dice for a big win, Kody’s High Roller and Joe Dixon made the stroll down victory lane in the very nice class for Randall & Gloria Dixon/Red Eagle Farm of Dacula, Ga.  The big moving Gen’s Major Coin and Sherri Pollack pulled in for the red streamers for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  An Almighty Dollar and Lauren Hamilton were third for Pat Cecil & Lauren Hamilton of Millington, Tenn.

            Now on to the normal Sunday night program, class 78, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-14 Years on Walking Mares or Geldings brought 17 of the 32 on the entry sheets to the big oval to work for their chance in the Celebration winner’s circle under the watchful eye of Judge Sam Sorrell and staff.  Marching their way down victory for the second consecutive year were the 2007 Spring Fun Show Champions, The Americal General and Masie McSwain riding for Masie McSwain of Alpharetta, Ga.  Oh, by the way, she made the winning ride with a unanimous decision of the judging panel.  With the win, they retired The Dandy Don Challenge Trophy.  Pusher’s Midnight Delight and Chad Cotten, 2006 World Champions in the Youth 11 and Under division, moved up in style garnering the reserve and taking it home to Murfreesboro, Tenn.  Gen’s Major Motion and Jacqueline Holtschult pulled in for the golden streamers for The Mike Chiappari Family of Santa Rosa, Calif.

            Class 79 featured the Elite Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings with 14 of the 29 on the entry sheet making their way down the track to work for Judge Ronnie Spears and his cohorts.  After picking up their FIRST win in the Novice division at the 2006 Celebration, George Ann Pratt and My First Dollar were back tonight in the Elite division in high style riding to the winner’s circle, just as they did earlier in 2007 at Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Central High School Band Boosters Horse Show and Spring Fun Show, with a unanimous decision of the judging panel taking the honors home to Shawnee Mission, Kansas.  It’s Taboo and Robin MacDonald were in the second position in the class for Bruce & Robin MacDonald of Atlanta, Ga. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  New York New York and Terry Lowman were third for Larry & Terry Lowman of Shelbyville, Tenn.

            The young riders were back in Class 80, Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings with 19 making the gate call hoping to make their winning ride right out of the Novice division tonight.  Judge Mike Carpenter called the gaits in the section.  Making that first memorable ride out of the south turn and down the east side with that coveted blue, and having the crowd’s applause all the way, was Spring Loaded Santana and Ty Hodge up for Angie Nicholson & Julia Livingston of Sylva, N.C. and Church Hill, Tenn.  This duo had a good 2007 already, picking up wins at Harriman, Tenn.’s Smoky Mountain Classic and the Tazewell, Tenn. Horse Show, but this win takes it from good to GREAT.  Major Limits and Stratton Weaver accepted the red streamers for Haygood & Aymett of McComb, Miss. & Lewisburg, Tenn.  Ashlyn Avent and Command At Sunrise were third for Clay Avent of Lewisburg, Tenn.

            Class 81 was one that folks came out for, the Four-Year-Old Walking Stallions.  Twenty of the 29 expected made their way down the hill to show the crowd their very best as Judge Allen Forman led the panel in the class.  Ah, the horses didn’t disapoint either, it was an exciting class all the way to the finish when announcer Chip Walters called the reigning Three-Year-Old WGC Gen On The Run and Justin Harris to the winner’s circle for Michael & Ty Hart of Corbin, Ky. & Beechgrove, Tenn.  This win was preceded by victories at Gallatin, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show, Murfreesboro, Tenn.’s Bethesda Horse Show and Belfast, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show.  Holyfield and John Puckett knocked down the competition to ride in for the reserve for Bob & Judy Hill of Albemarle, N.C.  Atlanta Ritz and Larry Edwards garnered the yellow ribbon for Carl Edwards and Sons Stables of Dawson, Ga.

            Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 15-17 on Walking Ponies, class 82 on the schedule, brought 17 of the 23 expected to the ring to work for the lively Sunday night crowd as Judge Justin Jenne’ led the panel in the class. Thankfully, it’s not raining tonight , but that didn’t stop Megan Mozeley and London Rain from putting on one outstanding show to top the section for Phyllis Mozeley of Charlotte, N.C.  It’s been a good Celebration already for Miss Megan as she already picked up one win earlier in the show with Pusher’s General in the Youth Novice division.  Alexandria Holland and Rudy Rudiger pulled in to the second position for The Neal Holland Family of Decatur, Ala.  Dalia Smith and In My Pocket carried third back to the Bluegrass State for Annabelle Smith of Manchester, Ky.

            Staying in the Youth division, class 83 featured the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-17 Years on Park Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings with 10 of the 15 programmed entries working for their chance to make that victory pass under the watchful eye of Call Judge Sam Sorrell and his staff.  Riding to the top of the event with a stellar performance that put them at the top of all five judges cards were Santana’s Coin and Lindsey Landrum making the good ride for John McNeely & Lindsey Landrum of Blowing Rock, N.C. & Franklin, Tenn.  This makes Santana’s Coin’s second win of the show having already captured the blue in the Park Pleasure Driving event with Wallace Brandon.  Headed back to the land of Carolina Blue, Pusher’s Hot Cargo and Morgan Collins picked up the red streamers for Jimmy Collins of Burlington, N.C.  Moving south, Regal’s Delight Lady and Rebecca Reynolds rounded out the top three for Jill & Rebecca Reynolds of Jupiter, Fla.

            The professional trainers were back in the big oval for class 84, Walking Mares, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter), with ten of the 19 expected beating the clock to work for the Celebration blue in the event.  Judge Ronnie Spears served as Call Judge in the section.  Making the victory pass, with Larry Bright playing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” in the background, were JFK’s Irish Dream and Joe Cotten making the stellar performance for Joe Harrington of LaQuinta, Calif., making this her second blue of the week after topping the Amateur division with Sue Harrington in the irons.  Hey Hey Ole, 2007 World Champion 15.2 and Under Mare, and Jimmy McConnell pulled in to accept the reserve title for Bob Medina of Skillman, N.J.  Brigand and Bill Bobo were third for George Brown of Hillsboro, Tenn.

            Back in the Park Pleasure division, class 85 featured the Owner-Amateur Riders 50 Years and Over on Park Pleasure Walking Horses with 14 of the 32 on the entry sheets making their way to the oval to work as Judge Mike Carpenter called the gaits.  Riding to the big win in the division for the second consecutive year was Tijuana Tex and Darden Gladney riding high for Gladney Farms of Homer, La.  Gold Danger and Susannah Borg were second in the event for Susannah Borg of Ponte Verdra, Fla.  The Silver Ghost and Deborah Cagle pulled in for the golden streamers for Summerwind Farm of Lebanon, Ohio.

            Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings, Class 86A was up next on the schedule with Judge Allen Forman leading the panel for the 24 hard working teams that beat the clock to show of for the extra large Sunday night crowd.  Making the victory pass was Jose’s Evening Star and Mary Mack Hall making the good ride for Mary Mack Hall & Jack Hall of Wartrace, Tenn.  Contendo and Kathyrn Ramsbottom pulled into the second position for Bob Ramsbottom/Clinch River Ranch of Norris, Tenn.  Wilsene Moody and Hard Night At The Ritz were third for O & W Moody, Ltd./Opal Moody of Batesville, Ark. & Shelbyville, Tenn.

            Twenty six more hard working teams made the trip down the hill for Class 86B, Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings.  Judge Justin Jenne’ handled the duties of Call Judge for the group.  Making the stellar performance to ride away with the win, just as they did at Corinth, Miss.’s Magnolia Classic Horse Show, was Tony Montana and owner/exhibitor Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn.  I’m Stan The Man and Ben Brogdon were reserve for Ben & Dr. Lynda Brogdon of Tallahassee, Fla.  Gun Boat and Greg Cass shot down the rest for third for Cass Services of New Orleans, La.

            It was a extra large group of ladies looking to ride out of the Novice division in class 87, Owner-Amateur Novice Lady Riders on Novice Walking Stallions with 31 of the 48 with reservations making the call to work for their chance at that very first Celebration win under the watchful eye of Judge Sam Sorrell and his panel.  Riding out of the Novice division tonight with a premier performance were Sensational Premier and Latithia Oran for Melton & Latithia Oran of Sweetwater, Tenn.  This win adds to a strong 2007 resume that shows wins at the National Walking Horse Trainers’ Show, Harriman, Tenn.’s Smoky Mountain Classic, Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Liberty Lions Club Horse Show and Murfreesboro, Tenn.’s Bethesda Horse Show.  Showing they’ve still got the attitude, Outrageous Attitude and Rhonda Cole garnered the red streamers for Thomas Holton of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  Jose Beam and owner/exhibitor Koni Tidwell of Dallas, Ga., were third.

            We in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry are always proud to talk about the quiet demeanor and desire to please that our horses have and Class 88, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, Riders 70 and Over, really displays that better than ever.  Seventeen exhibitors who admit they are 70+ and several who, whether they would admit it or not, are 80+ years of age and still able to ride and show with ease.  Proving age really is just a number, Dr. W.H. Hill, at the young age of 89, made a flawless performance with Cash’s All Star to take home his second consecutive win in the 70 & Over event for Dr. & Mrs. W.H. Hill of Powder Springs, Ga.  Another fine Georgian, Jeanine Gullett and The American Idol were in the reserve position for Jim Gullett of Duluth, Ga.  He’s Wild Eyed & Wicked and George Walden picked up the golden streamers for Eva Eddleman of Chattanooga, Tenn.

            The final class of the Sunday evening performance, Class 89, featured the Show Pleasure Walking Horse Mares or Geldings with 18 of the 35 programmed entries heading down the chute one last time for the evening to work for Call Judge Mike Carpenter and his staff.  Topping the class was the many time champion, The Great Escape and Jackie McConnell up for Camille Akin & Alex Blackburn of Collierville & Franklin, Tenn.  Tim Smith and She’s One Hot Tamale rode in for the reserve honors for McNeill & Nesius of Andalusia, Ala. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Joe Cotten & General Judy were third for The Robert Pollack Family of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.

            The Sunday evening performance certainly provided an outstanding evening of competition for the 11,107 on hand, the second largest Sunday night crowd ever, to take in. Don’t think even for a minute that it’s going to slack up here.  Monday evening promises to be even better with the Two-Year-Old Walking Stallions, 15.2 and Under Stallions and more on the schedule.  Head on back to Shelbyville and take part in all the excitement that is The Celebration.