by Mark Davis

A late night on Friday evening didn’t prevent the Saturday morning session of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration from starting promptly at 9 am. Saturday is also All Youth Day on the Celebration grounds with the Tennessee Walking Horse Youth Judging Contest and the Tennessee Walking Horse Youth Public Speaking Contest also taking place on the grounds.

The first class of the morning was the Auxiliary Equitation, Medal Class, Youth Division, Riders 11 Years and Under. Eleven of the 12 young riders entered made the gate call. For those not familiar with the division, Equitation is the art of riding and it is the rider and the rider’s ability to control the horse that is judged, not the ability of the horse. When the work was complete, Paige Bennett of Alvaton, Ky. was called to the winner’s circle. This win marks her second consecutive win in this division. Last year’s Reserve WC Lindsey Landrum of Franklin, Tenn accepted the red ribbon once again. Emma Jones of Flemingsburg, Ky. rode for the yellow streamer.

The little horses and little people took center stage as the Lead Line Ponies, Riders 6 Years and Under hit the track with all 13 of the scheduled entries making the gate call. Each and every one of these young riders had their own section of fans giving the judging panel that little bit of extra encouragement to look their favorite’s way. However, only one team could take home that Celebration blue and the team of Shake’s Little Midnight and Jordan Dempsey proudly accepted the World Championship acclaim with happy grandfather, Charles Gleghorn at the lead for Charles and Joy Gleghorn of Fayetteville, Tenn. This duo preceded their Celebration win with notable wins at Summertown, Tenn., the Columbia, Tenn. Spring Jubilee, Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Liberty Lions Club Show, Bethesda, Tenn., Moore County, Tenn., Marshall County, Tenn. and Belfast , Tenn. Reserve in the division went to Princess and Bailey McCormick with mom, Dru McCormick at the lead for Bailey and Morgan McCormick of Shelbyville, Tenn. Ace and Tyler Bailey received third with mom, Kim Bailey at the lead for Kyle and Tyler Bailey of Lynchburg, Tenn.

Up next on the morning agenda was class 58, Amateur Owned and Trained English Trail Pleasure, No Professional Training within 90 Days. Thirty-seven of the 44 entered made the gate call to work for Huck Moss and the Celebration judging panel. It was determined that additional work would be necessary to declare the winner in the division and 14 of the original 37 were asked to remain. When the work was complete the team of Blonde Ambition and Lisa Weaver were called to the winner’s circle for Fred and Lisa Weaver of Doyline, La. Weaver took home the blue from the 2003 Celebration in this division with Copy’s Dark Stranger. Papa’s Showgirl and Karla Massey accepted the red ribbon in the extra large class for James Nichols of Oxford, Miss. Ruby Who and owner/exhibitor Connie Waldo of Shelbyville, Tenn. rode to the third award.

Horsemanship was on display again in class 59E, as the Auxiliary Equitation, Medal class, Youth Division, Riders 12-14 hit the track in Calsonic Arena. All four of the entries rode for Celebration acclaim with Wayne Abee calling the gaits. In addition to the customary rail work, each rider was also asked to work an individual pattern in the event. Striving for excellence in the division was Rachel Burch of Murfreesboro, Tenn. Reserve in the division was Maddie Jones of Little Elm, Texas and Jennifer Lassiter of Kaufman, Texas accepted third.

The future of our industry was on display once again in class 60 as the Yearling Fillies or Geldings made their way to the arena. Thirty of the 37 with reservations worked for Celebration acclaim with Bob Cherry serving as call judge for the division. The panel determined once again that they wanted to take a closer look at the entries and asked 16 of the original 37 to remain for additional work. When the work was complete, a familiar face was back in the winner’s circle, I’m Shania Twain and Chris Richards. This team captured top honors at the TWHBEA National Futurity on Wednesday evening and returned to capture the TWHBEA Youth Yearling title on Friday morning with Monica Thompson. Prior to this win, I’m Shania Twain led the WHR High Point Yearling division by a wide margin with 379 total points. Reserve in the division went to Grandy’s Summer Love and Robert Nelms, who were in third in the WHR High Point standings prior to this event, for J.T. and Martha Nelms of College Grove, Tenn. Third went to Blues Lady Pusher and Valton Rummage for Ronnie Rummage of Columbia, Tenn.

The Auxiliary Equitation, Medal Class, Senior Division, Riders 15-17 Years displayed the talents of the very best in the Equitation division as 10 of the 11 programmed entries made their way to Calsonic Arena. Joe Fleming called the gaits in the division. After the initial work was complete, four entries; Rachel Jernigan, Alex Bumpus, Erica Derickson and Ashley Beard; were asked to complete individual work for the judging panel. Once again, reigning Equitation WGC Alex Bumpus of Rockvale, Tenn. made a flawless performance to capture the blue in the division. Last year’s divisional World Champion Erica Derickson of Wartrace, Tenn. was picture perfect as well in her reserve ride. Rachel Jernigan of Crossville, Tenn. rode to the yellow streamer in the class.

The young riders returned to the ring once again in class 62A, Youth English Trail Pleasure, Riders 17 and Under. All 21 of the programmed entries filled the Calsonic Arena track to work for that coveted Celebration title before Tommy Loid and the judging staff. Riding away with Celebration honors were My Finders Keepers and Jenna Hamilton riding for Marilyn Staley Friedman of Hidden Hills, Calif. This team found the way to make the move up from reserve in the division at the 2003 Celebration. Reserve honors went to Mr. Reach and Paige Bennett for Wheatley & Marchetti of Tell City, Ind. and Cottontown, Tenn. Obsessed With Silver and Denise Bader accepted the yellow streamer for Double Springs Farm of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Eighteen of the 23 young riders scheduled for the B division of the Youth English Trail Pleasure, Riders 17 and Under made the gate call to work as Huck Moss called the gaits in the division. If you see Brandon Urad around the grounds tonight, you might just want to give him a rub on the head because he’s definately one lucky guy and maybe some of that luck just might rub off. This young man came to Shelbyville never having won a Celebration blue and is returning to his Texas home with THREE Celebration blues. On Friday morning, he topped the Youth Western Trail Pleasure, Riders 17 and Under with Bad News’ Fantastic Cash. He returned on Friday evening to score the win in the Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders on Novice Walking Mares of Geldings, Riders 17 and Under with Lonestar Ritz and today he scores the win in this division with The Lady Of The Ritz for Deborah Williams of Argyle, Texas and Shelbyville, Tenn. He’s had a great show for sure . . .and it’s only Saturday! Stop’s April Fool and Denise Bader had a strong ride to take the reserve for Russell Keyser of Bell Buckle, Tenn. Two-Time 2004 WC The Kid Rock and Jayme Dean were presented the third award for Sue and Jayme Dean of Bell Buckle, Tenn.

The young horses were back on centerstage in Calsonic Arena for class 63A, Owner/Amateur Yearlings. Sixteen of the 19 with reservations made the call to work for World Championship acclaim. When the work was complete, the panel selected the team of Kiss For A Dollar and Rhiannon Barker for Grey Barker, Jerrold Pedigo and Roger Richards of Murfreesboro and Hendersonville, Tenn. Grandy’s Summer Love picked up her second Reserve World Championship of the day, this time with Amanda Nelms at the lead for J.T. and Martha Nelms of College Grove, Tenn. Papa’s Paladin and Marguerite Thomas led to third for the Womack Stables of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Eighteen of the 19 entered made the call for the B division of Owner Amateur Yearlings. Bob Cherry served as call judge for the division. That familiar face of the yearling division was back again as I’m Shania Twain picked up her fourth blue of the week, this time with Roger Richards, Jr. leading, for Dr. Roger Richards of Hendersonville, Tenn. I’m Walking To The Ritz and Brian Wright walked their way to reserve honors for Graham Holt & the George Wright family of Lexington, Ky and Mt. Juliet, Tenn. Enrique Enrique and Bob Nelms accepted third for JT and Martha Nelms of College Grove, Tenn.

The final class on the morning schedule was class 64, Yearling Colts of 2003 Foal. Twenty-five of the scheduled 33 made the gate call as Joe Fleming called the gaits in the division. Our final class of the morning brought in an across the board decision as the team of Don’t Touch Me I’m Armed and Robert Nelms led to the winner’s circle for Curt Washburn and JT Nelms of Fayetteville and College Grove, Tenn. This team already captured top honors at the TWHBEA National Futurity on Wednesday evening. Reserve honors went to Carlyle Johnson and A Dark Stormy Knight for Harbert and Nora Alexander of Jackson, Tenn. I’m Rooster Cogburn and Kathy Potter claimed third for Dr. Roger Richards of Hendersonville, Tenn.

With that, the morning was complete. And, complete by 1 pm, giving everyone time to enjoy the day or take a little nap before returning for the Saturday night festivities. One thing is for sure, with the strong participation in the youth and colt divisions, the future looks bright for our industry.