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Irby's Take Center Stage On Wednesday Morning





By Mark Davis


Ah, the banners are up, the doughnuts are cooking and the cool breezes are blowing through Calsonic Arena.  It must be Celebration time again!

            Yes, indeed, it’s Celebration time and once again the walking horse masses have made their way from every corner of the United States to Shelbyville to have their chance at that ultimate prize, a Celebration blue.  The panel of judges making dreams come true this year include Jamie Bradshaw of Union Grove, Ala., Wink Groover of Longview, Texas, Tommy Loid of Bowling Green, Ky., Huck Moss of Trenton, S.C. and Ronnie Spears of Tullahoma, Tenn.

            As always, promptly at 9 am, Celebration morning announcer Kathy Herrin officially called the 68th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration to order by bringing class 1, Model Pleasure Walking Mares to the ring with 13 of the 14 registered making the gate to show off their striking good looks for Call Judge Jamie Bradshaw and his staff.  The pretty ladies always open the Celebration, it’s a Celebration tradition and it’s almost become a tradition just the same that legendary Athens, Tenn., trainer Tommy Howell starts off his show with a win in this division.  He captured the division for a number of years with A Very Special Lady.  Once again in 2006, he’s back in the winner’s circle with In Vogue, repeating on their 2005 win in the division, for 4-J Land and Cattle Company of Waynesville, Mo.  The duo topped the division with a unanimous decision of the panel.  The very lovely pair of I’m Shania Twain and Leigh Bennett proudly accepted the red streamer for Dr. Roger Richards of Hendersonville, Tenn.  Rounding out the top three, Royal’s Vanity Fair and Wendy Boyd took home third for Michael and Jeanette Taylor of Wayne, WV.

            With that, it was time to hit the trail as class 2A, Owner-Amateur English Trail Pleasure, Adult Riders hit the track with 25 of the 31 expected came to work for World Championship acclaim as Judge Wink Groover led the panel.  There was one group of youngsters in the crowd who were right and ready early on a Wednesday morning.  The third graders from Bedford County’s Liberty Elementary School were on hand to cheer on their favorites.  They were cheering loud when The Lady Of The Ritz and Marty Irby, 2006 winners at Jackson, Miss. Mississippi Charity Horse Show and The Celebration’s Spring Fun Show, rode to the winner’s circle with the second unanimous decision of the morning for Marty Irby and Waterfall Farms of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Miss Jazzy and Barbara Civils, 2005 Celebration winners, picked up the reserve for Barbara Civils and Adriene Helt of Petersburg, Tenn., and Inverness, Fla.  I’m Benny Too and Tim Brooks carried the third award back to the land of the Razorbacks for Tim and Terri Brooks of Hot Springs, Ark.

            A full house made the ring for class 2B, Owner-Amateur English Trail Pleasure, Adult Riders as 29 of the 31 programmed entries made their way to work for Judge Tommy Loid and his cohorts.  Playin’ Hooky and owner/exhibitor Liz Gassaway of Wartrace, Tenn., were doing just that as they put on an outstanding show, repeating their success at Murfreesboro, Tenn.’s International Grand Championships, to pick up the World Championship title in the event.  The Kid Rock and Sue Dean were close on their heels taking home reserve for Billy and Sue Dean of Bell Buckle, Tenn.  Making it a sweep for the Bedford County exhibitors, Pitcher Of Gold and Dr. Judy Moore rode to the yellow streamer for Moore-Foust Farms of Shelbyville, Tenn.

                        The Wednesday morning spectators, small in number, but large in voice, got their first taste of the performance horse division in class 3A, Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Show Pleasure Walking Horses.  Seventeen of the 28 expected made the gate call to work for their very first Celebration blue as Judge Huck Moss took his first turn as call judge. Making that ride from the novice division with a very big smile on her face was Meg Young and Master Of Pride, champions at the Arab, Ala. Horse Show, riding for Ricky Young of Boaz, Ala.  Riding back to the Show Me State with the red streamer was Spun’s Jack Of Spades and owner/exhibitor Blaise Broccard of Cedar Hill, Mo.  Heading back down south, Dark Illusion and Red Strickland picked up third for Red and Dot Strickland of Olive Branch, Miss.

            The performance horse competition continued in class 3B, Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Show Pleasure Walking Horses.  Twenty-one of the 27 entered made their way through the chute for their chance to make their dreams come true with that first Celebration win.  Judge Ronnie Spears called the gaits in the event.  The Crimson Tide rolled through in this division as well as Pride’s Pusher Star and Sarah Moersch proudly rode to the winner’s circle for Dr. Barbara Moersch and Rolling Hills Farm of Jacksonville, Ala.  I’m Armed and Lethal and Carolyn Rutner were just that as they captured the reserve honors for Carolyn Rutner of Northport, Ala.  I’m Game and Yvonna Mathis had their game face ready as they accepted the gold streamer for John Weihl and Yvonna Mathis of Kings Mountain, N.C.

            Back in the pleasure division, ten of the 13 expected made the call for class 4, Amateur Owned and Trained Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod.  Judge Jamie Bradshaw led the panel in the event.   Well, his name may be silver, but Silver’s Spinal Tap and Jared Carrier captured the gold in this division, coming off wins at Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Tennessee Classic and Murfreesboro, Tenn.’s International Grand Championships, taking the win back to the land of the “Blue Mist” for The Carrier Family of Franklin, Ky.  The striking gray Outlined With Silver and Wayne Westbrooks were second in the division for Robert Westbrooks of Shelbyville, Tenn.  The Last Cash and Jeff Laughlin took the third award back to the heart of america for 4-J Land and Cattle Co. of Waynesville, Mo.

            The first Park Pleasure entries of the 2006 Celebration hit the track in class 5, Amateur Owned and Trained Park Pleasure Walking Horses, No Professional Training within 90 Days.  Eight of the nine teams with reservations hit the track to work as Judge Wink Groover called the gaits.  Hard showing Darden Gladney and his consummate performer, It’s Up In Arms impressed the panel and carried the win back down south for Gladney Farms of Homer, La.  This duo preceded their Celebration title with 2006 wins at Marshall, Texas, Lufkin, Texas, Dallas, Texas’ Big D Charity Show, Ruston, La.’s Charity Horse Show, El Dorado, Ark., and Murfreesboro, Tenn.’s International Grand Championships.  Not a bad resume at all!  Grandy Garcia and Jacque Fisher rode back to the Palmetto state with the red streamer for Jacque Fisher and Kathy Jamison of Florence, S.C.  Keeping it in the Carolinas, The Cash Collector and Amanda Dickerson were third for Sunset Farms of Fuquay-Varina, N.C.

            Back in the Lite-Shod division, 11 of the 16 expected made the call in class 6, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-17 Years on Plantation Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings, Lite-Shod as Judge Tommy Loid served as call judge.  Taking honors way out west, Our Sunny Boy and Ashley Child, champions on the west coast at Scottsdale, Ariz.’s Carousel Charity, Indio, Calif.’s Desert Classic, the West Coast Trainers’ Show, Pomona, Calif.’s All Amateur Show and the California Celebration, took their turn in the sun capturing the win for Joni Child of Phoenix, Ariz,  Maddie Jones and All Night made the Southwest just as proud as she picked up reserve in the event for Maddie and Kathy Jones and Brandon Urad of Little Elm & Kauffman, Texas.  A Red Ball Jet and Hannah McKenney accepted the yellow streamer for Kevin & Kim Smith of Yorktown, Ind.

            Ah, yes, the exhibitors in class 7 had everyone in a western frame of mind as eight of the 13 expected for the Owner-Amateur Riders on Western Park Pleasure Horses (Canter) rode for World Championship acclaim as Judge Huck Moss led the panel.  Pushing their way to a World Title in the division with a great performance, Generator’s Power Pusher and Miles Irby picked up the win for Gene and Sandra Mann and Miles Irby of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  Prior to this win, the duo chalked up wins at Shelbyville, Tenn.’s National Trainers’ Show, Columbia, Tenn.’s Columbia Spring Jubilee and Murfreesboro, Tenn.’s International Grand Championships.  The striking bay, Go Boy’s Dark Spirit and Jennifer Pendleton were hot on their tail to place second for Huckaby & Pendleton of Columbia and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Dragonfire and Jim Heiting  were third for Riverside Summit Ranch of Riverside, Calif.

            Keeping it in the western way, class 8 brought Western Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod (Canter) up the chute with 12 of the 15 on the sheets showing their easy going ways for Judge Ronnie Spears and his staff.  Well, Miles Irby was back in the winner’s circle in this division, this time with the multi-titled champion Jose Quervo Gold for Gene and Sandra Means of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Pounding the competition once again, Drop The Hammer and Bobby Richards took home the red streamer for Stacey Richards of Franklin, Tenn.  Calvin Klein’s Mystery and Rob Brainard took the third award back to West Tennessee for Sims and Jackie McKnight of Mason, Tenn.

            The Park Pleasure division was back on the schedule for Class 9, as 15 of the 16 expected made the call to work in the Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Park Pleasure Walking Mares.  Judge Jamie Bradshaw led the panel in the event.  Riding out of the Novice division in style, Bobby Parady and Miss Spectacular were just that as they picked up the win to carry home to La Canada, Calif.  Disarmed and Casee Crocker were looking sharp as they accepted the red streamer for Kemp & Shaw of Dora & Birmingham, Ala.  In Vogue and Jerry Laughlin were third for 4-J Land and Cattle Company of Waynesville, Mo.

            Rounding out the morning performance, the Plantation Pleasure Driving, Lite Shod, 2 or 4 Wheel Vehicle took the track with 6 of the 10 with reservations working as Judge Wink Groover called the gaits.  Driving to the winner’s circle in the division with a unanimous decision of the panel was the duo of Our Sunny Boy and Jamey Thompson at the lines for Joni Child of Phoenix, Ariz.  Our Sunny Boy already captured Celebration acclaim earlier today in the Youth Lite Shod event with Ashley Child.  Marquita By Design and Craig Swagerty were in the second position for Karrie Paul of Edwall, Wash.  Magic Illusionist and Jeff Givens picked up the yellow streamer for Cheryl Reidy of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

            And with that one final victory pass by Our Sunny Boy and Jamey Thompson, the first morning performance of the 68th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was complete and in the record books and by 1 pm at that, giving spectators time to enjoy all the excitement The Celebration has to offer.  Make sure to be back on hand promptly at 7 pm Thursday evening for the first performance in the big oval.  Youth Riders 11 and Under on Walking Mares, Three-Year-Old Walking Mares, Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Stallions and Walking Geldings, 15.2 and Under are just a few of the highlights.  One thing’s for sure, there will be Celebration excitement in Shelbyville . . .and you won’t want to miss it.

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