By Linda Scrivner

HARRODSBURG, Ky. - Billy Gray and Outlaw Josey Wales hunted down and stole the Grand Championship in Daniel Boone’s old hunting territory amidst the rolling hills of Kentucky. This exciting duo wore the crown to conclude the always great and thrilling Kentucky Celebration.

A total of 870 entries displayed their talents before the vocal crowd at the 39th annual Kentucky Celebration. This number was down from the previous two years, although the stalls were sold out and an extremely large number of horses were expected. Many attributed this lower number to the seven USDA officials present at the show. Local policemen were also present to enforce a three person per horse rule in the warm up area. The rule was strictly enforced even to the point of escorting those preparing to ride from the ring when more than three people were preparing a horse.

The show did go smoothly with only a small number of violations written. Only one class was split this year, compared to 24 splits in 2002. At this year’s show, held September 10-13, 2003, the crowd expressed tremendous approval of a world grand champion and a world champion exhibition on Saturday evening as well as for their favorites in the Grand Championship Stake.

The 2003 Three-Year-Old Amateur World Grand Champions I’m Silver Too and Dr. David Ranson caused quite an uproar with their exhibition in Kentucky under Southern Comfort Stables’ banner of Shelbyville, Tenn. Brett Jones exhibited his current world champion Pushing Miss Jenny to a standing ovation as well. This team was prepared by J & H Stables of Bowling Green, Ky. Mike Anasis also presented 2003 World Champion Fiddlin At Sunrise.

On Friday evening the audience also viewed exhibitions by two other 2003 world championship teams - Sam Sorrel and Johnny Be Good and Todd Smith and Generator’s High Point.

Robin Cobb of Owenton, Ky., Howard Roberts of Louisville, Ky., and Steve Woody of Kodak, Tenn., judged the four-night show, which featured 89 classes. Over $30,000 in prize money drew exhibitors and spectators from a wide area. The Kentucky Celebration has been held at the Mercer County Fairgrounds for the last 13 years. The proceeds from the show have benefited the Central Kentucky Riding for the Handicapped (CKRH) program for the same amount of years.

CKRH operates at the Kentucky Horse Park and has proven highly successful in helping people with a wide range of disabilities to develop self-esteem, confidence, coordination and a sense of achievement while learning horsemanship, tack and riding principles. CKRH soon will be embarking on a capital campaign to raise nearly $3 million for the construction of a year-round arena, classroom and office building and stable. This program was established in 1981 to provide horseback riding for therapeutic purposes and social and recreational activities. The flag was carried on Saturday night by one of the participants in the program that attributes her riding as making it possible for her to walk again.

Show manager Gene Beckner of London, Ky., welcomed everyone to the 39th annual Kentucky Celebration by saying, “The largest walking horse show in the Commonwealth and among the most prestigious in the nation, our show is dedicated to all those who love the Tennessee Walking Horse - whether spectator, owner, trainer, exhibitor or groom. And we are privileged to show our beautiful animals in the historic Mercer County show ring.”

A tradition at this show is the crowning of the 2003 Kentucky Celebration Queen. The contestants were driven into the ring in a doctor’s buggy by Larry Long and his 12-year-old mare Suzanne’s Secret Threat at the start of Saturday night’s performance. This year’s contestants were Taryn Harris, Kathy Jo Smith and Jessica Smoot. Kathy Jo Smith, daughter of Dwayne and Kathleen Newby of Paint Lick, Ky., was selected by the membership to be the 2003 Miss Kentucky Celebration. Nicole Smithson, Miss Kentucky Celebration 2002, presented the crown with the assistance of announcer Dan Grigson of Stanford, Ky. Grigson was also presented with a plaque during the opening ceremonies for his years of dedication to the Kentucky Walking Horse Association.

The conclusion of the 2003 Kentucky Celebration was a barbecue held after the show on Saturday evening. The good food and camaraderie showed why many include this Kentucky tradition on their list of shows to attend throughout the years.

Prior to the stake class, a moment of silence was held in honor of Marcus Alexander, who lost his life in a car accident after the Columbia Horse Show in June, 2003. A special trophy was donated in Alexander’s memory. Tanner Watkins presented the trophy to the stake winner at the conclusion of the class.

Much whooping and cheering followed each of the 11 stake entries as they entered the ring one at a time on Saturday evening. The roar of the crowd was heard many times during the 2003 Celebration. It continued throughout the class and ended with loud approval of Billy Gray as he made his traditional line-up pass to conclude the Grand Championship, one of the best and most exciting classes of the show.

Billy Gray directed The Outlaw Josey Wales, a four-year-old who recently claimed the 2003 Four-Year-Old Stallion World Championship, to this year’s championship with many spectators cheering him on. The Outlaw Josey Wales is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Larry McLaughlin of Florence, S.C. Reserve was awarded to last year’s reserve champion, Olympic’s Black Star, shown by Keith Blackburn for owners Doug and Tara Quire of Pleasantville, Ky.

The third position was awarded to another fine representative of our breed, Pride’s Shadow Rider with Kevin Bailey in the saddle for the Weddle family of Liberty, Ky.

Two world grand championship classes were held on Saturday night. Building a new tradition, the 4th World Grand Champion Country Pleasure Horse was the team of Poisonous Delight and Rebecca Taylor for Elsie Tabor of Crossville, Tenn., winning amidst the world’s finest. Poisonous Delight is trained by Ronnie Tabor of Shelbyville, Tenn. Nineteen entries vied for this honor with reserve going to Watchability and Jack Fayne of Nicholasville, Ky. Third was awarded to Regal Rebel and Charlie Howard for Darwin and Linda James of Shell Creek Farm of Hannah, Okla.

A new world grand championship, the Performance Pleasure Specialty World Grand Championship, was presented in 2003. This class has been extremely popular this season with large numbers showing on the KWHA circuit. The horses are allowed a flat or wedge and action devices. The first world champion in this division completed an undefeated season by winning this class. Sixteen entries vied for the chance to be “the” first world champion. The honor was bestowed upon the 15-year-old stallion Mark’s Remarkable, directed by Walt Bruner for Pam Floyd of Shelbyville, Ky. Ray Burton directed his Richland Creek to the reserve position. Burton is from Eubank, Ky. Third was awarded to Sunrise Of Pusher with Myron Ellis in the irons for Ellis Farms of Harrodsburg, Ky.

The four nights of showing brought out many top stables from many states. The blue ribbon tally was led by J & H Stables of Russell Springs, Ky., and Ronnie Tabor of Shelbyville, Tenn., with six blues apiece. Five blues were awarded to Charlie Green of Victory Stables in Shelbyville, Tenn., and with four blues awarded to Joe Cotten of David Landrum Stables in Franklin, Tenn.

Three blues were won by Scott Beaty Stables of Byrdstown, Tenn., Keith Blackburn of Highland Stables, Kevin Luttrell Stables, Buford Martin of Martin Stables, Brandye Mills Stables and Todd Smith Stables. Brooks Stables, Jerry Goodman, Greg Haley, Buzzard View Stables, Howard Stables, Jackson Stables, Charlie Roach, Seventh Heaven Stables, Smith Stables, Larry Stigers, Southern Comfort Stables and Tay Ben Farm all claimed dual blues.

The remaining blues were won by Thompson Place Farm, Kenny Hampton, Stonewall Acres, Derrick Gilbert, Valton Rummage, Michael Alexander, Monica Pierce, Donnie Kearns, Julie George, Tony Tully Stables, Andy Scott, Black Hawk Farm, Michelle Lamb, Webb Stables, Janet May, Mike Anasis of Willow Creek Farms, Kevin Bailey of Bailey Stables, Mike Branslum, Oliver Stables, Doug Waugh, Tommy Loid Stables and Walt Bruner Stables.

Color Me Crazy won two of J&H Stables’ six blues. Color Me Crazy first won the Three-Year-Old Amateur Mare and Gelding class with Erica McCoy Reed up for the Bud McCoy family in a class of 17. Terry Sims then directed her to the top of the 11-entry Three-Year-Old Mare and Gelding class. Dalia Smith and Cover Charge claimed the 12-entry Walking Pony title for Rene Smith.

Their next blue was won by I’m The Intimidator and Alie Napier in the 19-entry Amateur 15.2 and Under Specialty class for the Tim Napier family. Napier also directed Gen All The Way to the top of the Three-Year-Old Amateur Stallion and Gelding class of 15 entries and carried out the blue for the Napier family. Their final blue was won by Courtney Griffith and Major Player in the Show Pleasure Amateur Specialty class of 20 entries for James L. Griffith.

Ronnie Tabor’s six blues included two championships, the Country World Grand Championship and the Plantation Pleasure Specialty Championship. Tabor directed Push My Score to the Plantation Pleasure Specialty Championship following his preliminary win in the Plantation Pleasure Gentlemen Specialty. Push My Score recently won a 2003 world championship and is owned by Jami Kuslyck.

Poisonous Delight began his winning streak, which ended with the 2003 Country Pleasure World Grand Championship, in the Country Pleasure Rider 50 and Over class. Linda Scrivner directed him down victory lane in this class of 11. Poisonous Delight returned with Rebecca Taylor in the saddle to claim the 16-entry Country Pleasure Ladies class and the 12-entry Country Pleasure Open title for owner Elsie Tabor. This win made him the winningest horse at the Kentucky Celebration, claiming four blues.

Jazz King won three of the five blues won by Charlie Green of Victory Farm. He first won the 11-entry Aged Stallion and Gelding class with Charlie Green in the saddle for Gus King. He next appeared wearing the blue from the 13-entry Amateur Specialty Stallion and Gelding class with Ed Breedlove aboard. Following this win, he was purchased by Melissa Breedlove. Then, Ed Breedlove claimed the Amateur Specialty Championship on Saturday evening with a third flawless blue ribbon performance.

Breedlove and Music In The Sky also claimed dual blues, first in the 20-entry Amateur Specialty Mare and Gelding class for Barry Breedlove and then in the 13-entry Amateur Specialty Riders 50 and Over class.

The S & P, LLC entry, Final’s Eb Tide and Joe Cotten won the 15.2 and Under Open blue. Dr. and Mrs. R. Riqual’s Don Rafa won the 11-entry Open Specialty class next. After a tremendous class with 18 entries, Brother Splash and Carlan Cotten were selected to make the victory pass in the Open Ladies Specialty class for Dr. and Mrs. R. Rigual. Landrum Stables’ fourth blue came with Cotten directing Willie Mays to the top of the 15-entry Two-Year-Old Stallion and Gelding class for Hy Steppin Farm.

Scott Beaty claimed the Show Pleasure Open Canter title for Double Springs Farm to win the first of three Beaty Stables’ blues. Stormin Through Dixie next captured the 18-entry Four-Year-Old Specialty with Todd Claborn up for Kermit Tyree. Kim Butler and Clutch’s Custom Cut claimed the Ladies Amateur Canter blue for Kermit Tyree.

Josh Mosley won two of the three blues won by Highland Stables. First, he won the Walking Pony Rider 11 and Under class aboard Senator’s Silver for Mr. and Mrs. George Delaney. Then, he directed his Sunrise’s Heartbeat to the blue in the 12-entry Juvenile 11 and Under class. Amy Hanshaw and Favorite’s Maverick carried out the roses in the KWHA Ladies Auxiliary Specialty for Tracy Mosley to round out their threesome.

Courtney Griffith rode Generator’s In The Money to the blue in the 16-entry Two-Year-Old Amateur Mare and Gelding class under the Kevin Luttrell Stables banner for Charlene Cook. Griffith also won the 11-entry Two-Year-Old Amateur Stallion and Gelding title for Potter and Reihn. The third blue was won by Skywatch’s Voodoo and Jason Myatt in the 18-entry Four-Year-Old Amateur Mare and Gelding class for Jerry Myatt.

Two of Buford Martin’s blues were won by Pattern’s Gen. Haley Allen Dauer was in the irons to win the Juvenile Plantation 17 and Under Specialty for Renee Allen Dauer. Ryan Blackburn also captured the 11 and Under Plantation blue ribbon on him. Martin’s third blue was in the Groom’s class when Mark’s Eliminator and Darrell Smoot proudly collected the blue for Jessica Smoot.

The talented team of Dirty Little Games and Brandi Todd captured the Amateur Championship and the 10-entry Open Amateur class in two great performances under Brandye Mills Stables’ guidance. Wednesday evening Brandye Mills directed Charger’s Back In Black to make the victory pass in the KSOA Three-Year-Old class for John Cox to make it three blues for his stable.

Generator’s Flash Point, owned by the Ray Jones family, won two of the three blues won by Todd Smith Stables. First, David Hendricks directed Generator’s Flash Point to the top of the 10-entry Plantation Amateur Specialty on Wednesday evening. Then, Robin Smith captured the Plantation Ladies Specialty on Thursday evening. Todd Smith directed Pusher’s Flash-N-Sas to win the competitive KSOA Two-Year-Old class for Connie and Jim Bill Johns.

Several won dual blues. Scotty Brooks and Lizzie Borden captured the Aged Mare and Gelding title for Jim Ed Stuart. On Friday evening Scotty Brooks and Confederate Money were the victors in the 14-entry Show Pleasure Four Years and Under Specialty for Curtice McCloy of Norman, Ok.

Jerry Goodman won both the URHOEA Junior class with On The Net and the URHOEA Championship with Spunky Dude. Both of these fine horses are owned by Jerry Goodman.

Greg Haley won the Racking Championship with Jubilee’s Voo Doo Star, ridden by La Mar DePoyster for Gordon and LaMar DePoyster, while Papa Joe’s Sweet Treat and Haley came away with the 16-entry Two-Year-Old Mare and Gelding win for Gordon and LaMar DePoyster.

Buzzard View Stables’ protégés won dual blues, first Dalia Smith directed That’s The Bottom Line to a win in the 21-entry Amateur Owned and Trained Specialty for Alma Hacker; next Smith directed Sweep The Floor to the blue in the Amateur Owned and Trained Four Years and Under class for Geraldine Smith.

Howard Stables had two outstanding winners. Julie George won the Ladies Racking class with Purculater’s Prize for Billy Howard. Grindstone and George topped the Country Pleasure Racking class as well.

Jackson Stables’ first blue came in the KWHA Ladies Auxiliary Plantation Specialty with Red Satin Doll, ridden by Kris Hockensmith for Terry and Anne Sams. JFK’s Score carried owner John Mucci to the Three-Year-Old Plantation win.

Sammy Davis, Jr. and Rick Deaton from M & D Stables excited the crowd as they won the 13-entry Speed Racking class. M & D Stables also won the Flat-Shod Racking class.

Charlie Roach always shows some top stock. He won the Trail Pleasure Open Specialty with Pride’s Striding Generator and Jared Scott claimed the Trail Pleasure Juvenile Specialty aboard Pride’s Sterling Generator for Charlie Roach.

Under the Seventh Heaven Stables banner, Emma Renee Jones won the Walking Seat Equitation, 17 and Under class with the Mary Brannen-owned Ebony’s Shining Pride. Landon Maxey made his first show a blue ribbon one in the Academy class for Riders 17 and Under Riding Performance Horses aboard Fashion’s Wildcat, owned by Nicole Carswell.

The team of Gen’s Cotton & Lace and Tommy Smith claimed both the Style Racking and the URHOEA Amateur titles under the direction of Smith Stables.

Larry Stigers and A Delightful Midnight claimed the Country Pleasure, Three Years and Under title in a class of 16. Phyllis Stigers’ entry, Dawn’s Verdict was ridden to the blue in the Plantation Pleasure Championship by Norman Wiley.

Southern Comfort Facility of Shelbyville, Tenn., not only won the Grand Championship, they also topped the exciting 18-entry Three-Year-Old Stallion and Gelding class. Brent Hardin directed Blue Diamond down victory lane in this class for owner Gus King of Arab, Ala.

Tay Ben Farm of Murfreesboro, Tenn., also had two winners. Taylor Morgan made her first blue ribbon ride on Pride’s Final Mark in the Country Pleasure, Riders 11 and Under class. Charlie Howard and Regal Rebel claimed the 11-entry Country Pleasure Gentlemen class for owners Darwin and Linda James of Broken Arrow, Okla.

The remaining 22 blues were won by 22 additional hard-working stables and individuals. The KSOA Yearling class Wednesday evening was won by the gorgeous Macho’s Secret Bat and Rita Ellis for Thompson Place Farm. Prowler In Blue and Kenny Hampton wore blue from the ring in the Junior Racking class for Fred Pation.

Tears Of The Sun and Melanie Mader were selected as the Open Weanling Champions in an 11-entry class. Tears Of The Sun is trained by Stonewall Acres and owned by Stonewall Investments. They were followed by A Living Saint and Derrick Gilbert topping the Amateur Racking class.

Twelve entries answered the gate call in the Open Yearling class. The last to leave the ring were Fable’s Tradition and Valton Rummage from Valton Rummage Stables of Columbia, Tenn., for owner Martin Cox.

On Thursday evening, Persuasion’s Power Glide and Don Spencer had a good time winning the 10-entry Novice Amateur Specialty class. Evil’s Sassy Lady and Monica Pierce were victorious in the Two-Year-Old Racking class.

The talented team of Call Me Cash and Laura Comley did an outstanding job to top the Juvenile 12-17 Canter class. Call Me Cash is owned and trained by Donnie Kearns. Julie George earned the blue in the 11-entry Trail Pleasure Racking class with her Push Powers Cold Chills. Big Score Surprise and Sandra Shannon topped the Plantation Lite-Shod Amateur Specialty for Gary Moore of New Cailisk, Ohio, from Tony Tully Stables.

The team of Double Shock Wave and Andy Scott were the best in the Amateur Owned & Trained Canter class. The Two-Year-Old Amateur Stallion and Gelding class was split into two divisions. Winning the A Division were the team of The Jazz House and Clay Smith in a class of 12 entries. Black Hawk Farm proudly trains this entry for the Keith Smith family.

The judges’ choice in the Plantation Two-Year-Old Friday evening was a lovely head-shaking palomino The Wild Card. Michelle Lamb of Dublin, Ohio, rides and trains this talented youngster. Julio’ Julio’ and Link Webb earned the Four-Year-Old Open title for Donnie and Charlotte Taylor of Rock Island, Tenn. Evan Alexander earned the blue in the 15-entry Juvenile 17 and Under Specialty aboard Picture Of Power under Janet May’s guidance. Twisted Cash and Mike Anasis wore the blue from the ring in the Plantation Four Years and Under class for Kim and Kevin Smith of Yorktown, Ind.

Side Arm and Libby Stephens returned home with the blue after a tremendous show in the KWHA Members Only Specialty. Kevin Bailey proudly trains this pair.

On Saturday afternoon, Mike Branslum directed his She’s A Ten to the blue in the Open Spotted Saddle Horse Specialty class. Tyler Oliver and Generator’s Black Glory were the winners in the Country Pleasure, 17 and Under class for owner Nancy Williams of West Collenswood, N.J., from Oliver Stables. Dude and Julie Waugh were outstanding in the Saddle Mule or Donkey class for Doug Waugh.

On Saturday evening, 12 entries answered the gate call of the Four-Year-Old Amateur Stallion and Gelding class. Olympic Wired and Natalie Beckham were the winners making the victory pass for trainer James Matthews and owners George Marshall and Doug Potter.

If the Kentucky Celebration wasn’t on your agenda in 2003, make plans now to attend the Kentucky Celebration 2004, the largest walking horse show in the Commonwealth. You won’t be disappointed because in Kentucky, they believe in showing horses!