by Sarah Smith

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – It was a hot morning in horse country as the 78th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration continued with competition inside the Calsonic Arena at 9 a.m. Chris Bobo, Nathan Clark, Ray Gilmer, Sam Sorrell and Leigh Stuart took to center ring to mark the cards for the session. Shane Shiflet, Dallas Eubanks, and Brian Peery also took their places as photographer, announcer and organist respectively.
The youngsters of the industry were first on the schedule. Win, Lose Or Draw and Hunter Fikes walked their way down victory lane for Jones, Richards and Fikes in the Owner-Amateur Weanlings. Amanda Wright and Miss Belle Starr W. returned to the show ring to claim reserve acclaim after their TWHBEA National Futurity win on Wednesday night. Blue Blood picked up the third award for C.L. Kline Farms and Ella Kline.

Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 6-17 Years on Novice Trail Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings, Optional Tack saw all 11 entries answer the gate call. Riding to the winner’s circle and out of the Novice Division was GiGi’s Lunch Money and Hayle Machal for Vaughn, Hankins and Machal. GiGi’s Lunch Money carried Vaughn, Hankins and Machal to ten wins prior to picking up this world title. A Rain Delay and Evan Gleghorn earned the reserve title for Charles Gleghorn and Lisa Teel. The team won earlier in the month at the Wartrace Horse Show. The yellow streamer went to the team of I’m A Southern Secret and Tyra Brown for Willie Brown.

TWHBEA Youth Weanling, Handlers 6-17 Years entered the ring next. Walking from the line up and down victory lane was Ferris Bueller and Jackson Latham for Roger Richards. This team was also .victorious at the International. Home Free, led by Lake Weaver picked up the red ribbon for The Rippy Family. Joe Maddon and Georgia Hazelwood won the third award for Amy Rich and Chris Hazelwood.

Next to the show ring was the Owner-Amateur Riders on Western Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Four Years and Over. For the third consecutive year, The Red Falcon and Joyce Hofstee rode to the winners’ circle. Overpass and Patti Pollack earned the red award for S & P, LLC. Dark Spirit’s Mack Daddy, a classic horse, and owner Lisa Baum rounded out the top three.

Zane Bullock was all smiles as he made his way to the winner’s circle on I’m King James to carry the title of Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Show Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings World Champion back to Mt. Vernon, Ky. for David Bullock. The team also won earlier in the year at the Owingsville Lions Club horse Show. I’m King James was the 2014 Amateur Show Pleasure World Grand Champion. Dangerous Title and Addie Harris rode their way to second place honors for Kilburn and Fleming. Third in the exciting class went to last year’s world champions, Blues For Santana and Colton Trimble.

Jackson Latham walked his way to the winner’s circle for the second time of the morning. This win was in the TWHBEA Youth Yearling Fillies of Geldings, Handlers 6-17 Years at the lead of Bay Line Jazz for Sylvester Skierkowski. Honey I’m Good and Jordan Dempsey earned the reserve title for Lisa Teel and Charles Gleghorn. Third went to Kaitlyn Rippy at the lead of I Like Pina Coladas for Roger Richards.

It was a joy to watch Lisa Weaver ride to the winner’s circle with tears of joy flowing. Weaver directed Juan Carlos to the Amateur Owned and Trained Western Trail Pleasure Walking Horses, No Professional Training Within 90 Days World Championship. The highly decorated duo of Suiza and Allison Thorson added a reserve world title to their lengthy resume. Jose’s Firecracker carried Wayne Westbrook to the yellow streamer.
Owner-Amateur Riders on Western Lite-Shod Walking Horses were next up. Repeating their 2015 World Championship was Double Shot Of Cash and Tamara Hader. The team enjoyed four victory passes this season before picking up this Celebration blue. Lucky Daze and Lisa Shockey are carrying the Reserve World Championship back to West Virginia. Third in the class went to My Black Cadillac and Allison Thorson.

Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Two and Three-Years-Old were invited to work for the judges. In their second outing, Grits In Dixie and Darrin Sisk earned the unanimous approval of the judges. This was the first winning ride for Darrin Sisk at the Celebration. Lake Weaver directed He’s A Dixieland Delight to reserve honors for he and Vickie Penick. Olympic Aftershock earned the third place tie.

Reigning World Champions Etta James By TJB and Kathy Zeis earned themselves a unanimous World Championship in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Trail Pleasure Walking Horses, Optional Tack. Etta James By TJB is made 2016 victory passes prior to the Celebration at the FAST Spring Showcase, Columbia Spring Jubilee, and The Money Tree Classic. Second went to Machete and Susan Coleman for Dowell and Coleman. Machete has won five times this season. Talkin’ Dirty To Me and LaMar Depoyster rode to the third tie in the class.

Dale Steinmetz and La Patrona made the trip down victory lane in the class for Elite Owner-Amateur Riders on Lite-Shod Walking Horses. Just Borrowed Cash and Jim Roberts earned reserve championship acclaim while Candy Crush and Jack Kwok earned the yellow award.

Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-17 Years on Trail Pleasure Walking Horses, Two and Three-Years-Old, Optional Tack brought thirteen top entries to compete for World Championship honors. Emerging from the lineup with a unanimous win was A Rain Delay and Taylor Gleghorn for Charles Gleghorn and Lisa Teel. A Rain Delay earned a reserve world title earlier in the day. Hashtag and WhitLei Green rode to second place honors. I B Smokin’ Joe and Kaitlyn Rippy rounded out the top three in the large class.

The final class on Friday morning was the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-17 Years on Park Performance Walking Horses. Nine entries worked for the judge’s approval and the crowd was vocal about their favorites. When the cards were tallied it was Bustin’ Jose with Jacob Miller down victory lane for Matt Penna and Jacob Miller. Matt Penna rode the newly crowned World Champion to third place honors on Thursday evening. Kinky Boots and Bailey McCormick rode to second place honors for Dru McCormick. I Walk N Talk with Lake Weaver aboard were third for Popp & Weaver.

There are thirteen classes on the schedule for the Friday night performance that will take place in the historic Celebration oval beginning at 7 p.m.