BELL BUCKLE, Tenn. – As the year draws to a close, walking horse enthusiasts travel from near and far to mix and mingle at the annual Walking Horse Trainers' Association Banquet. Held on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, this year the event was moved to the Bell Buckle Banquet Hall. This is the final event for the weekend that each year consists of many meetings and the Grand Prize Giveaway. 

Mark Farrar once again was happy to serve as emcee for the night and handle all the announcing duties, and in his usual fashion, he kept the crowd fully entertained. Starting out the evening, Farrar took a moment to recognize several organizations that play major roles in the walking horse industry.

The 2015 Scholarship winners were acknowledged next. The Glenn C. Dowell Jr. family proudly sponsors the scholarships and this year marked their fifth year in doing so. This year’s recipients were Alex Blackburn, Baylee Cook, Payton Lyndsay Davis, Chris Elliott and Hailey Puckett.

Casey Wright was called to the stage next to be presented with his second green blazer. The blazer is donated by Frank and Shirley Neal in honor of 1992 World Grand Champion Dark Spirit’s Rebel. This tradition was started in 1995. Billy Young presented Wright with the blazer that is now embroidered with the Celebration logo and the years 2013, 2014 and 2015 for his world grand championship wins with I Am Jose’. On top of the blazer, Wright was presented with a custom riding suit from Marsha's On The Square for recognition of his World Grand Championship ride.

The auxiliary awards were the next presentations to be made by Susan Coleman. Kelly Mills was presented with the Celebration award for capturing the world championship title aboard Mr. Heisman. The High Point Member of the Year honors go to an individual member who has accumulated the most points throughout the year in Auxiliary classes. First place and the gold award went to Christy Mauney. Second place with the silver award went to Sherry Bonner. Kelly Mills was third with the bronze award.

The auxiliary equitation awards followed. Topping the Equitation 11 & Under category was Addie Harris earning the gold award, followed by Brooklyn Wheelon with the silver award. Kaitlyn Rippy topped the next category and earned the Equitation Youth 12-17 gold award, with Kallie Attig picking up the silver award and Claire Hankins earning the bronze award. Allison Thorson picked up the Adult Equitation gold award, followed by MeMe Anderson with the silver award and Carmen Vaughn with the bronze.

The auxiliary Rookie of the Year honor went to Frankie Jo Bradley. Rhea Ellen Webb graciously accepted the Mudslide Slim Lifetime Achievement Award, while Jennifer Barr was honored to be voted as the Auxiliary Member of the Year.

Next, John Allan Callaway was called to the stage where his dad Allan Callaway presented him with an award to recognize his 2015 Trainer of the Year honor.

The Assistant Trainer of the Year was next to be announced. Clay Sanderson of Trimble Stables was honored as this year’s recipient.

Bill Callaway, chairman of the Riders’ Cup board, was next to come to the stage to present the Riders' Cup awards to both winning trainers and horses. Since it's inception in 2005, the Riders' Cup program has paid out close to $750,000 to dedicated trainers who continue to bring top horses to shows all across the country.

Claiming the 2015 Riders’ Cup Performance Championship is 2015 Trainer of the Year John Allan Callaway. At the start of this year, John Allan made the decision to push hard all season long and land at the top of the performance division. He snagged the top spot on the list right out of the gates this season and has never let go. He showed in 122 classes at shows all across the Southeast. For his hard work, determination and dedication to the Walking Horse industry, we are pleased to present John Allan with a check in the amount of $11,755.73.

For the second year in a row, the 2015 Riders’ Cup Pleasure Division Overall honor goes to Jeff Laughlin. Close to the top of the leader board all season, Jeff made his final push and topped the charts in Mid-June and never looked back. He entered the ring a total of 75 times traveling to shows in four different states to claim the title. For his efforts, determination and persistence, we are pleased to present Jeff with a check in the amount of $3,073.36.

Next the Riders’ Cup divisional sponsors were brought to the stage for a presentation where they were presented with a plaque as a token of appreciation, as well as to applaud them for their generous support. Without each and them, this program would not have been possible. The Two-Year-Old Open division was sponsored by the Andrew Waites family for the sixth year in a row. Quality Exteriors pledged their sponsorship of the Three-Year-Old Open division for the third year. Once again the Molly Walters family sponsored both the Four-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division and the Four-Year-Old Open division. They have been a consistent part of the program since 2008. The 15.2 & Under division was sponsored by the Walking Horse Association of Alabama, while the Celebration was the sponsor for the Stake division for the sixth year. Keith & Lorraine Rosbury are in their fifth year as sponsors of the Two-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. Sponsoring the Three-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division for their second year was the Mississippi Charity Horse Show, which allows the Mississippi Charity to be a triple-point show. Along with our many long-standing division sponsors, we added several new sponsors for the year. The Christmas In July and Walking For The Angels Horse Shows proudly sponsored the Aged Mare & Gelding division. Winner’s Circle was happy to sponsor the Open Specialty division. The Columbia Spring Jubilee Horse Show was happy aid with the Open Show Pleasure division. The Park Performance division was sponsored by Windmere Farms & Dirty Sexy Money. Circle T Stables pledged their sponsorship of the Lite-Shod division. The Anthony Joseph family sponsored the Park Pleasure division. The Classic Park Pleasure division was sponsored by Blackwater Stables, while Kyle Bush was the sponsor for the Four & Under Trail Pleasure division.

Next, awards were presented to the winners in each Riders' Cup category. The Mason Dixie Line won the Two-Year-Old Open title. He was shown by Brad Beard in 11 Riders' Cup classes this season. Anthony Davis won the Three-Year-Old Open division. He was shown in Riders' Cup classes by Danny Burks and Winky Groover 12 times this season. Outta Line Ritz won the Four-Year-Old Open title. He was shown in 11 Riders' Cup classes by Chris Zahnd. For the second year in a row, Admission Is A Dollar topped the 15.2 & Under division. Charlie Green and Admission Is A Dollar showed four times in Riders' Cup classes in 2015. Border Run won the Stake division. He was shown in a total of seven Riders’ Cup classes this season by John Allan Callaway. Gin And Salsa topped the Two-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. Blaise Broccard and Gin And Salsa showed 11 times in Riders' Cup classes in 2015. Gin Fusion won the Three-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. This gelding and Herbert Derickson showed in Riders' Cup classes this year a total of eight times. Nevermore topped the Four-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. John Allan Callaway and Nevermore showed seven times in Riders' Cup classes in 2015. She’s Intimidating won the Aged Mare & Gelding division. Winky Groover showed the mare in Riders' Cup classes this year a total of six times. Once again Nino’s Category Five won the Open Specialty division. He was shown in Riders' Cup classes by John Allan Callaway 12 times. Masq Of Jazz topped the Show Pleasure division. Brock Tillman and Masq Of Jazz showed seven times in Riders' Cup classes in 2015. He’s Made In The USA won the Young Trainers title. She was shown by Bill Callaway in two Riders' Cup classes this season. Paroled In Tennessee won the Park Performance division. This gelding and Jeff Laughlin showed in Riders' Cup classes this year a total of 11 times. Double Shot Of Cash topped the Lite-Shod division. Laurie Toone and Double Shot Of Cash showed 10 times in Riders' Cup classes in 2015. Dixie’s Pistol Annie won the Park Pleasure title. She was shown in 10 Riders' Cup classes by Jeff Laughlin. Moonshine At Midnight won the Classic Park Pleasure division. Patrick Thomas showed Moonshine At Midnight in Riders' Cup classes twice this year. I’m Soulja Boy won the Miscellaneous Pleasure division. He was shown in one Riders’ Cup class by Bobby Richards. Luv In The Air topped the Four & Under Trail Pleasure division. Dickie Gardner, Jeff Laughlin and Luv In The Air teamed up to show eight times in Riders' Cup classes in 2015.

2015 WHTA Horse of the Year Winners

Two-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding
Winner (2-way tie): Cottonwood Gin & She’s Salsarita
Reserve: Miss Dixie Carter 

Winner: Yeti
Reserve: Honey I’m Good

Two-Year-Old Amateur Stallion
Winner: Hey Tomcat
Reserve (2-way tie): Flying High CC & Jamaica Gin 

Winner: Hey Good Looking
Reserve: Antonio Antonio 

Two-Year-Old Mare or Gelding
Winner: She’s Salsarita
Reserve: Cottonwood Gin

Lite-Shod Specialty
Winner: Roscoe Jenkins
Reserve: Double Shot Of Cash

Two-Year-Old Stallion
Winner: Shanghai MCF
Reserve: Jose’s Thunderstruck

Lite-Shod Canter
Winner: Roscoe Jenkins
Reserve: Double Shot Of Cash

Youth Pony
Winner: Rammer Jammer
Reserve: Prime Poison

Trail Pleasure
Winner: Etta James By TJB
Reserve: Fuego

Adult Pony
Winner: Lined Walkin’
Reserve: The Dixie Lineman

Country Pleasure
Winner: Designer Champagne
Reserve (3-way tie): Eye On The Title, GiGi’s Majestic & I’m Manhatten

Winner: Nine Carat Diamond
Reserve: He’s Shady In Black

Three-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding
Winner: Be My Baby
Reserve: Color Coded CF

Elite (50 Yrs. & Over)
Winner: Miss Ebony Rose
Reserve (2-way tie): I Am Biscayne Bay & Unreal

Three-Year-Old Amateur Stallion
Winner: The Land Shark
Reserve: Seve’s 112

Western Lite-Shod
Winner: Double Shot Of Cash
Reserve: Lucky Daze

Three-Year-Old Mare or Gelding
Winner: Be By Baby
Reserve: Godiva

Western Park Pleasure
Winner: Rise To Fame
Reserve: Dixie’s Pistol Annie

Three-Year-Old Stallion
Winner: Really Coach
Reserve (2-way tie): Tennessee State Line & The Land Shark

Fine Harness
Winner: Lined Royal Cash
Reserve: In Ted’s Image

Winner: Ritz Entourage
Reserve: The Texas Lexus

Youth Show Pleasure
Winner: Blues For Santana
Reserve: The Mississippi Hippie

Ladies Amateur Specialty
Winner: Gin Toddy
Reserve: Jose’s Dulce

Men’s Amateur Specialty
Winner: Unreal
Reserve: I Am Biscayne Bay

Amateur Canter
Winner: She’s Limitless
Reserve (2-way tie): Jose’ It Ain’t So & Lord Stanley

Juvenile Park Pleasure
Winner: B B King’s Jazz
Reserve: I’m Johnny Dollar

Four-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding
Winner: Spirit On The Line
Reserve: Jose’s Beyonce

Four-Year-Old Amateur Stallion
Winner: Mr. Country Gentleman
Reserve: Popcorn Sutton 

Amateur Park Pleasure
Winner: Lined Up At The Ritz
Reserve: B B King’s Jazz

Four-Year-Old Mare or Gelding
Winner: Coach’s Cheerleader
Reserve: Nevermore

Professional Park Pleasure
Winner: B B King’s Jazz
Reserve: Lined Up At The Ritz

Four-Year-Old Stallion
Winner: The Iron Door
Reserve: Putt For Dough

Amateur Park Performance
Winner: Ted Who
Reserve (2-way tie): Ain’t He Grande & We’re Jammin’ The Blues 

Amateur Show Pleasure
Winner: Godfather By Ultra Copy
Reserve (2-way tie): He’s Starbucks & I’m Moonlighting 

Professional Park Performance
Winner: Moonshine Man
Reserve: Dirty Sexy Money 

Five-Year-Old Amateur Stallion
Winner: I’m Mayhem
Reserve: Led Zeppelin 

Juvenile 11 & Under
Winner: Willie Twilight
Reserve: Gangster’s Hit Man 

Professional Show Pleasure
Winner: He’s Starbucks
Reserve: Turnbown 

Five-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding
Winner: Conga Line
Reserve: Greenspan

15.2 & Under Amateur Mare or Gelding
Winner: The Sportster
Reserve: A Bit Of Change

Juvenile 12-17
Winner: Hot Texas Salsa
Reserve: Jose’ Caliente 

15.2 & Under Amateur Stallion
Winner: Pro V 1
Reserve: Boure’

Amateur Specialty
Winner: A Bruce Pearl
Reserve: The American Patriot

Winner: My Black Cadillac
Reserve (2-way tie): Etta James By TJB & Jose’s Novia

15.2 & Under Mare or Gelding
Winner: A Bit Of Change
Reserve: Gangster’s Hit Man

15.2 & Under Stallion
Winner: Texas Joe Black
Reserve: King’s Kode Blue 

One-Night Horse Show
Winner: Money Tree Classic
Reserve: Marshall County Horseman’s Association

Multi-Night Horse Show
Winner: North Carolina Championship
Reserve: Tunica Fall Classic 

15.2 & Over Mare or Gelding
Winner: Wicked Walking Witch
Reserve (2-way tie): Conga Line & Forty Niner 

15.2 & Over Stallion
Winner: I Am Jose’
Reserve (2-way tie): Gen’s Black Maverick & He’s Vida Blue