It’s the first Saturday night of the 75th Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and we’ve had two great evenings of horse show action thus far, and four great day performances as well, but the first Saturday night is always special because it’s when we get to take our first look and the horses that will be competing for the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship next Saturday night.

Judges for the 75th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Rollie Beard of Lewisburg, Tenn., Derek Bonner of Mooresboro, N.C., Jamie Bradshaw of Union Grove, Ala., Allen Foreman of Thomson, Ga., and Leigh Stuart of Bowling Green, Ky.

Promptly at 7 p.m., the gates swung open and tonight it was Counterfeit Dollar and Bud Seaton presenting the American Flag. Counterfeit Dollar had been unable to join us the last two nights due to a mild injury and the Saturday night crowd was certainly proud to see them back in the ring tonight. The invocation for the evening was given by Bro. Jeff Smith of Southside Church of Christ followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Sharon Kay Edwards of Shelbyville, Tenn.

First up on the evening’s schedule was class 72, Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Geldings. Sixteen of the 28 with reservations made their way down the hill to show for the Saturday evening crowd and the judges, led in this class by Jamie Bradshaw. Topping the large, competitive class was the reigning Youth 12-17 World Grand Champion, Cadillac’s Bum and Lilly Waites up for the Andrew Waites family of Hattiesburg, Miss. This team had 2013 wins at the Mississippi Charity Horse Show and the Woodbury Lions Club Horse Show. Jazz’s Master and owner/exhibitor Kelly Mills took reserve honors back to Birmingham, Ala. Paroled From San Quenton and Dr. Ann Rea were third for Dr. Ann Rea of Summit, Miss.

Class 73A, Three-Year-Old Walking Mares (Riders’ Cup) was up next on the schedule. Eight of the 12 expected worked down the hill to show as Allen Foreman called the gaits for the section. Making the winning pass in the section was Winky Groover and She’s Intimidating accepting honors for Jack and Lillian Bolosky of Chesterfield, Mo. Lipstick And Lead and Tim Smith were reserve for Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn. Blue Autumn and Justin Harris were third for Joseph and Mezrano of Columbiana, Ala.

Three-Year-Old Walking Mares (Riders’ Cup), Class 73B featured six of the 12 programmed entries working for World Championship honors in the class as Leigh Stuart served as call judge. Walking their way to the winner’s circle and casting a spell on the competition was Wicked Walking Witch and Casey Wright up for Jo Ann Dempsey of Tupelo, Miss. Splashy Ritz and Larry Edwards accepted the red streamers for Veazey and White of Tifton and Eatonton, Ga. Jazzmine Lady and Winky Groover were third for Jo Ann Dowell of Powell, Ohio.

Staying in the professional division, class 74 brought the Young Trainers, 35 & Under, on Walking Horses, 15.2 & Under (Riders’ Cup) down the hill to the historic big oval. Nine of the 16 on the official Lions Club program beat the clock and made the gate call to work for Rollie Beard and his panel. Taking top honors back Carolina way was Prime Country and Tyler Baucom riding for John Callicutt of Seagrove, N.C. Texas Joe Black and John Allan Callaway pulled into the second position for Steve and Kathy Zeis of Douglasville, Ga. The Nickel and Clay Sanderson rounded out the top three for Merv Whittenburg of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

It was time to get in the Western way for class 75, Owner-Amateur Riders on Western Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Five Years & Over. Five of the eight expected entries came to work as Derek Bonner called the gaits. Riding to the top of the class once again after winning in the English division on Friday night was Sherri Pollack and Hello I’m Johnny Cash taking home the honors for S & P Farms of Saratoga, Calif., and Shelbyville, Tenn. Another California team, Dragonfire and owner/exhibitor Jim Heiting of Riverside, Calif., secured the reserve honors in the class. C’mon Turn Me Loose and Debbie Wells were third for Heiden and Wells of Florence, S.C.

Class 76 was up next, Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 12-17 Years on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings. Eleven of the 17 anticipated made their way down the hill with the hopes of riding back up with their very first Celebration blue. Judge Jamie Bradshaw served as call judge for the class. Riding right out of the novice division tonight and taking their very first Celebration blue back to East Tennessee was Masati and Danielle Ricker up for the Ricker family of Greeneville, Tenn. This was this team’s fourth win of the 2013 show season. Remaining a novice for another day and taking home reserve was The Mississippi Hippie and owner/exhibitor WhitLei Green of Shelbyville, Tenn. Wings Of War and Shelby Beam picked up the yellow streamers for Lawson and Beam of Guntersville and Arab, Ala.

During a break in the action Lilly Waites and Breakin Parole came in to make an exhibition under the spotlight and recreate a little history tonight. Lilly came in wearing the iconic rhinestone riding coat, which is said to weigh between 30 and 35 lbs, worn by Deedy Decker in 1966 and the presentation certainly did bring back memories for many of those in the crowd. The coat is on display at the Tennessee Walking Horse Museum in Wartrace, Tenn.

The professional trainers were back for class 77A, Two-Year-Old Walking Mares (Riders’ Cup). Thirteen of the 18 expected made the gate call to work for the Saturday night crowd as Allen Forman called the gaits. Making the victory pass in the division was Beyonce’ and Larry Edwards up for Jackie Whatley of Tampa, Fla. Cash’s Good Wife and owner/exhibitor Jimmy McConnell of Union City, Tenn. were reserve in the class. Datelined and Tim Smith were third for Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn.

Class 77B, Two-Year-Old Walking Mares (Riders’ Cup) brought 11 of the 18 on the official Lions Club program to the track to work as Leigh Stuart led the panel in the class. Walking away with the win was Wired And Lined and Casey Wright up for Jerry and Kathy Graves of Moss, Tenn. Forever Ritz and Gary Edwards pulled into the second position for Dr. Barbara Moersch of Jacksonville, Ala. Miss Mexico and Chad Baucom were third for Mona Dean and John Callicutt of Wendell and Seagrove, N.C.

The amateur riders were back for class 78, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Ponies, Stallions. Seven of the 14 expected took the rail to work for Rollie Beard and his colleagues. Topping the division for the third consecutive year was the classic team of The Dixie Lineman and Gail Walling up for McDonald and Walling of Wartrace, Tenn. This marked their fourth win of the 2013 season with previous wins coming at the National Trainers’ Show, the Spring Fun Show and Pulaski, Tenn. Prime Poison and Robin MacDonald were reserve in the class for Bruce and Robin MacDonald of Atlanta, Ga. Samsung and owner/exhibitor George-Ann Pratt of Shawnee Mission, Kansas rounded out the top three in the class.

Class 79 gave the opportunity to turn on the spotlight for the very first time of the 75th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and hand out the very first set of roses in the Yearling World Grand Championship. Ten entries made the call to work for the opportunity to make that memorable walk under the spotlight as Derek Bonner served as call judge for the class. The Yearling Championship is always held on the first Saturday night so the young horses can be prepared for the sales that take place later in the week.

Making that memorable walk was Adorable Diamond and Beverly Lamp, Yearling Filly World Champions from earlier today, presenting for Keith and Lorraine Rosbury of Bell Buckle, Tenn. With this win, coupled with the Rosbury’s 2012 win in this division with Coachin’ And Preachin’, the Rosbury’s retired the Dickie O’Brien Memorial Challenge Trophy, the Harold White Memorial Challenge Trophy and the Jim and Virginia Farrar Memorial Challenge Trophy. Nat King Cole and Chris Richards were reserve for Roger Richards, Bobby Jones and Mann Nutt of Hendersonville, Manchester and Hohenwald, Tenn. My Diamond Back and Rayna Latham were third for Sylvester Skierkowski of Christiana, Tenn.

Class 80 brought the Owner-Amateur Novice Gentleman Riders on Novice Walking Stallions to the track with 14 of the 15 expected making the call to work for Jamie Bradshaw and his panel in hopes of winning their very first Celebration blue and riding out of the Novice division tonight. After making a great performance, Bruce Vaughn and Night Listner are novices no more as they made the victory ride tonight with a unanimous decision of the panel taking honors back to Valley City, Ohio. Nine Dangerous Yards and owner/exhibitor Alex Way of Tuscaloosa, Ala., pulled into the second position. Hard Mountain Cash and owner/exhibitor Paul Robbins of Rutherfordton, N.C., collected the third award.

Owner-Amateur Riders on Five-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings was up next on the schedule, class 81, with 13 of the 17 programmed entries working to the rail to show as Allen Foreman called the gaits in the class. Sapphire Gen and owner/exhibitor Dru McCormick of Shelbyville, Tenn., made the winning pass in the division. She’s A Shady Sister and Lee McGartland were reserve for Mike and Lee McGartland of Ft. Worth, Texas. Clementine By JFK and Lucky Collins were third for Don and Lucky Collins and Counti Green of Bell Buckle and Shelbyville, Tenn.

When that class was complete, announcer Bobby Sands had the crowd on their feet clapping to “Flat Walk Boogie” as the entries for class 82A Walking Stallions, Five Years & Over, Over 15.2 (Canter) (Riders’ Cup). Three of the seven expected made the call to work for the Saturday night crowd as Leigh Stuart served as call judge for the section. Making the victory pass in the class with a unanimous decision of the panel was the Wartrace Horse Show Champion, He’s Vida Blue and Chad Williams up for Dr. Jim and Kay Green of Meridian, Miss. Swing Batter Batter Swing and Danny Hughes were reserve for Glendon Stivers of Manchester, Ky. I’m Deuce and Casey Wright was third for Billy and Debbie Woods of Lexington, Tenn.

Class 82 B, Walking Stallions, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter) (Riders’ Cup) featured two of the eight expected as Rollie Beard called the gaits for the class.   Riding down victory lane in the class was Lampshade and Bill Cantrell up for Dr. W.S. and Gloria Warr and Rhonda Major of Phenix City, Ala. The Thug and Dick Peebles were reserve for Luckey Easterling of Mize, Miss.

With a final victory ride by Lampshade and Bill Cantrell, the first Saturday night of the 75th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was in the history books. We did get a preview of the Aged Stallions and while we didn’t see exactly what we thought we would see, there were some outstanding horses and we will likely see some surprise entries that qualify in other divisions throughout the week. Also, keep in mind, former World Grand Champions can show back and not qualify, so there’s possibilities there as well.

Remember, the Celebration Dog Show and the evening performance are on schedule for Sunday night, when we get to take a look at the Four-Year-Old Stallions and Monday night, we’ll get our first look at the Two-Year-Old Stallions (three sections) and the 15.2 & Under Walking Stallions. History’s being made every night at the Diamond Anniversary Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.