by Sarah Smith


SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The skies were clear and a nice breeze was blowing as the Saturday evening performance of the 78th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. The box seats were full of beautiful hats as it was Hat Night at the Celebration. Judges for the event are Chris Bobo, Nathan Clark, Ray Gilmer, Sam Sorrell and Leigh Stuart. Larry Bright is the organist, Mark Farrar handles the announcing duties and Shane Shiflet is the official photographer.

Those in attendance were honored with a special presentation of Mrs. Jean Baum aboard her mare, Walk On Command. Mrs. Baum received a standing ovation as she made her way around the Celebration oval. At the age of 90, Mrs. Baum has enjoyed the Tennessee Walking Horse for many years and has passed her love of this incredible animal onto her family.

Riding to the first world championship of the night was Gin Toddy and Sue Irby. The duo is no stranger to the winner’s circle having won world titles in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and now their fifth consecutive world championship in 2016 in the Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Geldings. Reserve went to Escape From Alcatraz and Kimberley Morrison. This team has claimed three wins since they teamed up last fall. Multi-titled The Royal Dollar and Alex Blackburn picked up the yellow streamer.

Professionals were next to take the track with their Three-Year-Old Walking Mares, a Riders’ Cup class. The A division World Champion, Extra Special Jose and Casey Wright found themselves in the winner’s circle at the West Tennessee Strawberry Festival, Spring Fun Show and the Mid-South Charity before carrying this title back to owners Sammy and Gayle Cagle of Lexington, Tenn. Kimble and Madeline Tew’s, She’s Busted In Tijuana with Blaise Broccard rode their way to the red award. She’s Busted In Tijuana had five previous season wins. Closing out the top three was City Girl’s Dream and Chad Baucom for owners Lou and Valerie Goecker.

Ten entries answered the call for the B division of the Three-Year-Old Mares. Exiting the line up as a world champion was Lined In Diamonds and Chad Baucom. Lined In Diamonds was bred, raised and is owned by Connie Hess. Baucom directed the filly down victory lane at the Columbia Spring Jubilee back in June. Welcome To My World and Rocky McCoy are now reserve world champions for Floyd Ray Jones. This team found themselves in the winner’s circle earlier in the season at the FAST Spring Showcase. Third went to Jose’s Rising Star and Scott Beaty for Carl Smith.

After topping the competition at the TWHBEA National Futurity and again on Thursday morning with owner Debbie Marbry, Slingblade carried trainer Carrie Martin to the winner’s circle in the Western Trail Pleasure Walking Horses, Four Years & Under, Riders’ Cup. Slingblade is undefeated this season. Also a world champion earlier in the week, A Rain Delay and David Mast earned the second place award for Teel & Gleghorn. Machete and Joe Lester were third for Dowell & Coleman.

The Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 12-17 Years on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings took their turn in front of the judges. It was the team of Get Ready and Evan Claborn riding down victory lane and right out of the winner’s circle. The duo won earlier in the spring at the FAST Spring Showcase. Second went to Busy Line and Ashley Latham for Mitchell & Latham. I’m In High Definition and Alexa Compton picked up the third award.

The 2015 Walking Yearling World Grand Champion has been a force to be reckoned with in the two-year-old mares division throughout the season. On Wednesday night, Hey Good Looking was named a TWHBEA National Futurity Champion and then returned to the big oval to impress the judges and become the Two-Year-Old Walking Mares, Riders’ Cup Division A World Champion. Ernest Upton directed the talent to the title for Bobby and Freda Jones. Philip Trimble rode Aruba Skyline to second for Erin O’Callaghan. This team has been a constant contender all year. Third in the class of young talents went to I’m Unsinkable Molly Brown and Michael Wright for Sam McDaniel.

Exciting the ring to their state song, On Wisconsin, with the blue ribbon and title of World Champion Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Ponies, Stallions was Mucho Pavo and Kim Leonard. This win marked the seventh appearance for the duo this season. Reserve went to The Gov and Jean O’Brien. The Gov is sired by the late World Grand Champion The Black Nightshade and is out of a Gen’s Major General mare. Ritz’s Big Dipper and Beth Collins earned the yellow streamer.

Twelve Two-Year-Old Mares, Riders’ Cup entries took their turn around the track vying for world championship acclaim in the B division. After winning at the Walking For Hope, Christmas In July and the Marshall County Horseman’s Association Horse Shows with Ryan Blackburn, Molly Lou Melon was selected by Diana Cruse and added to her show string with Wright Stables. Molly Lou Melon and Casey Wright are now world champions. Reserve honors went to Jose’s Tomboy and Keith Blackburn for Amy Blackburn. Jose’s Tomboy is by Jose’ Jose’ and out of former show ring star Glamorous. Riding to the third award was She’s Blue As Ice and Philip Trimble for Ricky Atnip.

The first set of roses was presented in the next class. The Yearling World Grand Championship brought six young talents and their handlers to the ring. Walking under the spotlight and down victory lane was Marcus Mariota with Roger Richards, Jr. at the lead for Roger Richards. Marcus Mariota was victorious on Wednesday night at the TWHBEA National Futurity. The honor of reserve world grand champion was YS Polamalu and Beverly Lamp for Stephens & Womack. YS Polamalu is sired by Our American Eagle and is out of a Beam’s Super Stock mare. Collecting the third tie was Honey I’m Good and Robert Nelms for Teel & Gleghorn.

The 2014 Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Ponies World Grand Champion, Samsung and trainer Bill Callaway made their way to the winner’s circle in the Young Trainers 35 Years & Under, on Walking Horses, 15.2 & Under, Riders’ Cup class. With this win, owner George-Ann Pratt retired the Andy Adkins Memorial Challenge Trophy. Reserve went to I’m Pushin’ N Line and Casey Wright for Joe Fostek. This team won at the Money Tree Classic over the 4
th of July weekend. Justin Harris rode Bruce MacDonald’s entry of King Of Hearts to the third award.

Young riders were up next in the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-14 Years on Walking Ponies World Championship. Repeating their win in 2014, Addie Harris rode Prime Poison, a classic horse, to the win. This was their second outing and second win of the season. Sapphire Gin and Morgan McCormick rode to the reserve title for Dru McCormick. Third went to Gangster’s Hitman and Claudia Gribble from Olive Branch, Miss.

The Owner-Amateur Novice Gentleman Riders on Novice Walking Stallions World Championship went to All About The Jose and Harold Roberts for Sherry Roberts. This team made victory passes at the West Tennessee Strawberry Festival and the HAWHA Spring Classic before making their way right out of the novice division. Intimidator’s Boogie Man and Donald Robinson earned the red streamer. Third went to Jose Don Julio and Bradley Bottoms.

The Parade of Hats was next. Winners of the hat contests were escorted around the ring to show off their beautiful hats.

Seven entries answered the gate call for the Owner-Amateur Riders on Five-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings. Leaving the ring with the blue ribbon and bragging rights as world champions was The Semper Fi and Dee Broom Yoder. Charles Yoder owns the champion. The pair began their season in winning style at the Mississippi Charity Horse show. Wired And Lined and Dustin Cooper carry the reserve honors back to Blountville, Tenn. Wired And Lined has had wins at the National Trainers’ Show, Spring Fun Show and Christmas In July before making his way to the Celebration. Mary Medina rode Cash’s Good Wife to the yellow award. They had three wins earlier in the season.

Six top contenders entered the ring to Larry Bright’s Flat Walk Boogie. The world championship in the A division of the Walking Stallions, Five Years & Over, Canter, Riders’ Cup went to He’s Shady In Black and Jimmy McConnell for Richard Donner. He’s Shady In Black carried Richard Donner to a reserve world title earlier in the week. Reserve went to Jose’s Power Broker and Keith Blackburn for Dan and Susan Erwin. This team won at the Smoky Mountain Classic and the Woodbury Lions Club earlier in the season. Rounding out the top three was He’s Unleashed and Chad Williams for Evergreen Walking Horse Farm.

Once again, the Flat Walk Boogie invited the contenders to the show ring to vie for the title of World Champion Walking Stallions, Five Years & Over, Canter, Riders’ Cup. The B division welcomed four entries. The crowd was on their feet and completely thrilled as Honors and Larry Edwards made their way to the winner’s circle for Keith and Dan McSwain unanimously. This win follows their 2016 victories at the Columbia Spring Jubilee and Christmas In July shows. Ryan Blackburn directed Lester H. Burns to reserve for Martin Cox. The two were world champions in the young trainers division and Open Specialty World Grand Champions in 2015. The yellow ribbon went to Magic’s Pure Ritz and Jimmy McConnell for Dean Scott. They were the 2016 Red Carpet Show of the South Grand Champions.

Although there isn’t a performance on Sunday morning, there is still plenty to do. Church Services will be held in the Celebration Oval at 7:45 a.m. The Celebration Shoot Out Golf Tournament will start at 9 at Riverbend Country Club and The Walking Horse Trainer’s Auxiliary will hold their Annual Celebration Dog Show in Champions Arena at 12:30. Horse show action will resume on Sunday evening at 7 p.m.