by Mark Davis

             SHELBYVILLE, TENN. - It’s Thursday Morning in Shelbyville. Horse show exhibitors and fans are stirring early getting ready for the full day of events. Another cool morning and promises of several cool evenings are much appreciated and should make for very comfortable horse show viewing throughout the weekend.

             The Thursday morning performance featured 13 classes of competition highlighting the Model, Trail Pleasure, Lite Shod, Park Pleasure and Performance horse divisions.

             The judges for the 72nd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Spencer Benedict of Glasgow, Ky., Jennifer Bingham of Shelbyville, Tenn., Mike Carpenter of Franklin, Tenn., Nathan Clark of Arab, Ala., and Tommy Loid of Bowling Green, Ky.

             The show got underway promptly at 9 a.m., with class 14, Model Pleasure Walking Stallions with 10 of the 11 with reservations making the gate call and lining up for conformation judging. Judge Spencer Benedict led the panel in the opening event of the morning. Impressing the panel and taking the victory in the event was Victory Number 9 and Bill Bobo at the lead for Chris Bobo of Shelbyville, Tenn. This duo also topped the Model Stallion division at the International Grand Championships. Jeff Givens and Palomino President led in for reserve for Dr. and Mrs. Jack Bailey of Topeka, Kansas. Maxximize and Amanda Winters were third for Jo Ann Dowell of Powell, Ohio.

             Class 15 brought 17 of the 20 expected for Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Two and Three Years Old to the ring to work for the Thursday Morning crowd, which was supplemented by a large number of children from the local elementary schools.  They had no problems finding their favorites and letting the judge’s know of their approval.  Judge Jennifer Bingham served as Call Judge for the class. The competition certainly learned not to count out the striking team of Jose’s No Counting Me Out and Darden Gladney who captured the win with a unanimous decision of the panel for Gladney Farms of Homer, La.  This win was preceded by 2010 wins at Lebanon, Tenn.’s WHOA Spring Show, the Spring Fun Show, the Woodbury, Tenn. Lions Club Horse Show and the International Grand Championships.  King Dollar and Patrick Thomas pulled into the second position for Drs. Linda & Cliff Garrard of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Rounding out the top three in the large and competitive class was Sure Cash At The Ritz and Jacob Baum riding for Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn.

             It was time to get in the Western way for class 16, Owner-Amateur Western Trail Pleasure, as all 16 of the expected teams made their way to ride for their chance in the winner’s circle today in  Shelbyville as Judge Mike Carpenter called the gaits.  Topping the class with a unanimous decision of the panel, the second of the day already, and picking up their second 2010 World Championship was the team of Red Sunday’s Best and Liz Gassaway riding for Laurie Toone & Liz Gassaway of Bell Buckle & Shelbyville, Tenn.  This win gave Gassaway her 4th Celebration blue for 2010.  Not bad since it’s only Thursday.  I’m Rose Walker and Lauren Hamilton pulled in to accept the red streamers to take home to Cedar Grove, Tenn.  Dr. Smooth and Belinda Mendenhall rode into the third spot for Jana Anderson of Shelbyville, Tenn.

             Adding a little variety to the morning schedule, class 17 brought the performance horses to the track for the Amateur Owned & Trained Walking Horses, No Professional Training within 90 Days (Canter).  Three of the six programmed entries came to show for Celebration acclaim in the division as Judge Nathan Clark called all three gaits our Tennessee Walking Horse is famous for. When the work was complete, all five judges agreed on all three placings and announcer Mark Farrar, Jr., called the team of M.O.A.B. and Kenny Compton to the winner’s circle to accept the honors for Della Compton of North Tazewell, Va.  Ozone’s Major and owner/exhibitor Jack Heffington of Shelbyville, Tenn., rode into the second spot, while owner/exhibitor Hollis Kelly of Eagleville, Tenn., was third with his classic horse, Solidarity’s Heritage.

             The Trail Pleasure division was back for class 18, Owner-Amateur Western Trail Pleasure, Three-Years-Old, with 17 of the 18 on the official Lions Club program beating the timer to work for the coveted Celebration blue.  Judge Tommy Loid served as Call Judge for the class.  Riding to the win in the section was So It Is and Rhiannon Barker riding for Rhiannon Barker & Evan Morgan of Murfreesboro & Bell Buckle, Tenn.  It’s Lady Gaga and Miles Irby were reserve riding for Sally Paulson, Racheal Allen and Miles & Ty Irby of Salem, Ore., Pleasonton, Calif. & Murfreesboro, Tenn. Gigi’s Majestic and Logan Hankins were third for Leo Martin & Logan Hankins of Eldon, Mo. & Paris, Ky.

             Class 19 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Lite Shod Walking Horses up to Calsonic Arena to entertain the crowd.  Twelve of the 15 expected made the gate call to work as Judge Spencer Benedict called the gaits.  Capturing the win with a unanimous decision of the panel was Debbie Parmer and her multi-titled champion, Honor My Cash riding to the win for Mr. & Mrs. Don Parmer of Elizabethtown, Pa.  This team, who topped this same class at the 2009 Celebration, collected 2010 wins at the National Trainers’ Show and at the Savannah, Tenn. LionClub Horse Show.  Jose Quervo Gold and owner/exhibitor Joanne Davis of Christiana, Tenn., pulled into the second spot in the competitive class.  Kelly Sherman and Marquita By Design accepted the yellow streamers to carry back to Boulder, Co.

             The Trail Pleasure horses were back for class 20A, Owner-Amateur Novice Western Trail Pleasure, Novice Riders.  Fifteen of the 16 on the book came to work for their chance to pick up that first Celebration blue and ride their way right out of the Novice division this morning.  Judge Jennifer Bingham led the panel in the section.  Riding out of the Novice division with a unanimous decision was Good Til’ The Last Drop and owner/exhibitor Ashley Say of Fairview, Tenn.  A novice for another day, Copper’s Morning Glory and Bonny Carrier accepted the red streamers for Chip Carrier of Franklin, Ky.  Headed out west with third were A Wicked Bond and Krysta Allen showing for Greg Allen of Pleasonton, Calif.

             Class 20B, Owner-Amateur Novice Western Trail Pleasure, Novice Riders brought 12 of the 15 who called ahead to the rail to work for their first ever chance in the Celebration winner’s circle. Judge Mike Carpenter served as call judge for the split.  Riding out of the Novice division in this section was It’s Lady Gaga and Ty Irby riding for Sally Paulson, Rachael Allen and Miles & Ty Irby of Salem, Ore., Pleasonton, Calif. & Murfreesboro, Tenn.  It’s interesting to note that Irby has judgeThe Celebration and his sons, Marty & Miles have both won Celebration blues, but this was his first win.  Oh Buddy and owner/exhibitor Jackie Osborne of Bowling Green, Ky., pulled into the second position, while Copper’s In Style and Bonny Carrier were third for Chip Carrier of Franklin, Ky.

             Owner-Amateur Riders on Lite Shod Walking Horses, Four Years and Under, class 21, was up next on the schedule with 14 of the 23 expected entries making the call to work under the watch of Judge Nathan Clark and his panel.  Playing their way to a Celebration win with all five judges approval was Music City Jass and owner/exhibitor Laura Brandon of Franklin, Tenn.  This win was the horses’ second 2010 win as Wallace Brandon drove to the winner’s circle in the Lite Shod Driving on Wednesday Morning.  Laura and Music City Jass rode to the winner’s circle in 2010 at the Tony Rice Horse Show, the FAST Showcase and the International Grand Championships.  Special Ed and Fred Benjamin were second riding for Fred and Vicki Benjamin of Humboldt, Tenn.  Armed Scarlett Lady and Betty Laughlin were third for 4-J Land & Cattle Company of Waynesville, Mo.

             Class 22 featured the Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Park Pleasure Walking Stallions or Geldings with 10 of the 13 on the sheets working to the track for their chance at their first Celebration blue on this Thursday morning.  Judge Tommy Loid served as Call Judge for the class.  Well, Ty Irby came to the Celebration today never having won a Celebration blue, and now, he has two, after an outstanding performance with Two Times The Magic riding for son, Marty Irby of Clarksville, Tenn.  Remaining a novice for another day, Elizabeth Gladney accepted the reserve honors with Jose’s No Counting Me Out riding for Gladney Farms of Homer, La.  Cash For A Good Time and Janet Merrill collected the yellow streamers for Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Merrell of Walnut Hill, Ill.

             Lite Shod Walking Horses (Canter), class 23, was up next on the program with four of the six expected coming to show off their three-gaited walking horse as Judge Spencer Benedict called the gaits.  Taking home a unanimous win in the class was Grandee Ann and owner/exhibitor Connie Waldo of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Owner/exhibitor Ginny Chapman and Widowmaker All Over carried the red ribbon back to Ft. Worth, Texas, while Rain’s Dude and owner/exhibitor Carmen Lucas-Frank of Montpelier, Va., was third.

             The final under saddle class of the Thursday Morning performance featured the Owner-Amateur English Trail Pleasure, Three Years Old with 13 of the 14 on the books making the call to work for Judge Jennifer Bingham and her panel.  It’s Lady Gaga was back in the winner’s circle again in this division, this time with Miles Irby in the irons riding for Sally Paulson, Racheal Allen and Miles & Ty Irby of Salem, Or., Pleasonton, Calif. & Murfreesboro, Tenn.  Gigi’s Majestic and Logan Hankins were reserve for Leo Martin & Logan Hankins of Eldon, Mo. & Paris, Ky.  Contemporary Jazz and Kathy Zeis were third for Kasey Kesselring & Kathy Zeis of Montverde, Fla. & Douglasville, Ga.

             The final class of the Thursday morning performance featured the Model Pleasure Walking Geldings with all 10 of the expected entries making their way to line up for conformation judging as Judge Mike Carpenter led the panel. In the winner’s circle once again was the team of Trigger Treat and Jeff Givens at the lead for Jo Ann Dowell of Powell, Ohio.  The Texas Lexus and Jamey Thompson carried reserve back to the west coast for Roger & Rebecca Emerick of Hillsborough, Calif.  I Be Locked And Loaded and Beverly Lamp were third for Mary Beals of Viola, Ill.

             With that, the Thursday morning performance was complete at 12:35 p.m.  Remember, the 72nd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration’s morning performances continue on Friday, Saturday and Monday in the Calsonic Arena.  Make plans to attend and be part of the fun, pageantry and tradition that you can only find at The Celebration.