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. 6, 2014, 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.

The banquet hall was beautifully decorated for Christmas. A newly finished addition was recently added to the hall giving more space for the banquet goers.

Brad Beard gave the blessing before a delicious dinner catered by the Bell Buckle Cafe was served.

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. Steve Smith was introduced as the newly re-elected President of TWHBEA. 

The youth awards were the first honors presented for the evening. Youth Council Chairperson Ashlea Shepard was called to the stage to present the Youth Council Achievement Award to the much deserving Kaitlyn Rippy. Next up were the WHTA Youth High Point Awards. The winner for the Youth Park Pleasure division went to WhitLei Green. Counti Green topped the Performance 11 & Under division, while Jayden Jackson captured second place. There was a tie for the Performance 12-17 division winner with Thomas Derickson and Lilly Riddley both being recognized. Chris Elliott claimed the reserve award. The Lite-Shod winner was Kaitlyn Rippy.

The 2014 Scholarship winners were acknowledged next. The Glenn C. Dowell Jr. family proudly sponsors the scholarships and this year marked their fourth year in doing so. This year’s recipients were Hannah Adele Barnes, Shelby Nicole Beam, Jaron Louis Dotson, James Logan Hankins, Abigail Lane Hunt and Branson Douglas Popp.

Eight more individuals were inducted into the Trainers' Friendship Club this year, bringing their total to 117 inductees. The Friendship Club was established in 1991 to recognize key individuals who have made a major contribution to the walking horse industry. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Congressman Scot DesJarlais, Terry Dotson, Doug and Sheryl Crawford, Denise Rowland, Joy Smith and Tom Burton, Jr. were presented with plaques to mark their induction into the club. Posthumously, Scott Lambert was also inducted into the Friendship Club.

Casey Wright was called to the stage next to be presented with the 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. Mickey McCormick presented Wright with the blazer that is now embroidered with the Celebration logo and both 2013 and 2014 for his world grand championship wins with I Am Jose’.

The auxiliary awards were the next presentations to be made by President Sarah Smith and Treasurer Susan Coleman. Kelly Mills was presented with the Celebration award for capturing the world championship title aboard Jazz’s Master. 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. There was a tie this year for the first place and gold award. Shelia Groover and Dru McCormick were both happy to receive the honor. Second place with the silver award also resulted in a tie; this time it was a three-way tie with Kelly Mills, Lauren Tillman and Kaitlyn Beaty Wright. Erica Way was third with the bronze award.

The auxiliary equitation awards followed. Topping the Equitation 11 & Under category was Brooklyn Wheelon earning the gold award, followed by Addie Harris with the silver award and Jayden Jackson with the bronze. Morgan Murphy topped the next category and earned the Equitation Youth 15-17 gold award, with Kaitlyn Rippy picking up the silver award and Claire Hankins and Alexis Simmons tying for the bronze award. Allison Thorson graciously accepted the Adult Equitation gold award, followed by Carmen Vaughn with the silver award and Leslie Perry Collins with the bronze.

The auxiliary Rookie of the Year honor went to Kim Wick. Sarah Smith graciously accepted the Mudslide Slim Lifetime Achievement Award, while Kari Tisma was honored to be voted as the Auxiliary Member of the Year.

Next, Charlie Green was called to the stage where Mickey McCormick presented him with an award to recognize his 2014 Trainer of the Year honor. Green is no newcomer to this award having received it three times now…2007, 2013 and 2014. Before Green could leave the stage, he was asked to remain where he was while Ashlea Shepard of Marsha’s on the Square made her way forward. Shepard presented Green with a beautiful customized saddle-riding suit for being named Trainer of the Year.

The Assistant Trainer of the Year was announced next. Blaise Broccard of Abernathy 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 over $660,000 to dedicated trainers who continue to bring top horses to shows all across the country.

Claiming his second Riders’ Cup Championship in three years is Charlie Green. At the start of this year, Charlie made the decision to push hard all season long and land at the top of the performance division. By the end of July he had rode his way to the top spot and has never let go. He showed in 116 classes at shows in five different states. For his hard work, determination and dedication to the Walking Horse industry, we are pleased to present Charlie with a check in the amount of $9,544.74.

Claiming the 2014 Riders’ Cup Pleasure Division Overall honor is Jeff Laughlin. Close to the top of the leader board all season, Jeff made his final push and topped the charts in Mid-October and never looked back. He entered the ring a total of 100 times traveling to shows in six 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 $2,258.07.

Next the Riders’ Cup divisional sponsors were brought to the stage for a group 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 fifth year in a row. Quality Exteriors pledged their sponsorship of the Three-Year-Old Open division for the second 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 Jim Cortner family, while the Celebration was the sponsor for the Stake division for the fifth year. Don Diego/Keith & Lorraine Rosbury are in their fourth year as sponsors of the Two-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. Sponsoring the Three-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division was the Mississippi Charity Horse Show, which allows the Mississippi Charity to be a triple-point show. The Young Trainers division was again sponsored in loving memory of Andy Adkins. A new sponsor this season, Gary Mathews Motors proudly sponsored the Lite-Shod division for the second year in a row. Sponsoring the Park Pleasure category in the pleasure division for the third year in a row was Tamara Hader.

Next, awards were presented to the winners in each Riders' Cup category. Stretch Your Dollar won the Two-Year-Old Open title. He was shown by Casey and Michael Wright in eight Riders' Cup classes this season. Reservation On Line won the Three-Year-Old Open division. He was shown in Riders' Cup classes by Winky Groover 14 times this season. Willie Twilight won the Four-Year-Old Open title. He was shown in nine Riders' Cup classes with Allan, Bill and John Allan Callaway and Brock Tillman all adding to the points total. Admission Is A Dollar topped the 15.2 & Under division. Charlie Green and Admission Is A Dollar showed six times in Riders' Cup classes in 2014. Magic’s Pure Ritz won the Stake division. He was shown in a total of seven Riders’ Cup classes this season by Herbert Derickson. Jetta James topped the Two-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. Blaise Broccard and Jetta James showed 10 times in Riders' Cup classes in 2014. Master Class won the Three-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. This gelding and Herbert Derickson showed in Riders' Cup classes this year a total of 11 times. Jazz’s Major Touch topped the Four-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. Philip Trimble and Jazz’s Major Touch showed six times in Riders' Cup classes in 2014. Labeled At Midnight won the Aged Mare & Gelding division, this season with five Riders’ Cup classes. Philip Trimble showed Labeled At Midnight in Riders' Cup classes this year a total of five times. Nino’s Category Five won the Open Specialty division. He was shown in Riders' Cup classes by John Allan Callaway seven times. Beau Jazz topped the Show Pleasure division. Justin Harris and Beau Jazz showed seven times in Riders' Cup classes in 2014. Miss Midnight Rider won the Young Trainers title. She was shown by Philip Trimble in two Riders' Cup classes this season. Sweepstakes Gypsy Lady won the Park Performance division. This mare and Brock Tillman showed in Riders' Cup classes this year a total of nine times. Rev’s Flashback topped the Lite-Shod division. Jeff Laughlin and Rev’s Flashback showed 13 times in Riders' Cup classes in 2014. Lined Up At The Ritz won the Park Pleasure title. He was shown in eight Riders' Cup classes by Patrick Thomas. Cold Hearted won the Classic Park Pleasure division. Laurie Toone showed Cold Hearted in Riders' Cup classes this year a total of three times. A Major Gold Strike won the Miscellaneous Pleasure division. He was shown in three Riders’ Cup classes by Jeff Laughlin.

2014 WHTA Horse of the Year Winners

Two-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding
Winner: Flirtin’s Command
Reserve: Steele Grey

Winner: GiGi’s Ember
Reserve: Emmitt Smith 22

Two-Year-Old Amateur Stallion
Winner: Sonny Steele
Reserve: The Land Shark

Winner: I Am G.Q.
Reserve: Hey Pretty Girl

Two-Year-Old Mare or Gelding
Winner: Jetta James

Lite-Shod Specialty
Winner: Roscoe Jenkins

Two-Year-Old Stallion
Winner: Tennessee State Line
Reserve: Stretch Your Dollar

Lite-Shod Canter
Winner: Vindicated
Reserve: Roscoe Jenkins

Youth Pony
Winner: Prime Poison

Trail Pleasure
Winner: Honey Badger
Reserve: Line Item Veto

Adult Pony
Winner: Samsung
Reserve: The Dixie Lineman

Country Pleasure
Winner: Eye On The Title
Reserve: Bustline

Winner: Knock ‘Em Ted
Reserve: He’s Made In The USA

Three-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding
Winner: Miss Mexico
Reserve: Within The Line

Elite (50 Yrs. & Over)
Winner: Unreal
Reserve: Gin Toddy

Three-Year-Old Amateur Stallion
Winner: Mr. Country Gentleman
Reserve: Five Star’s Jazzman

Western Lite-Shod
Winner: Lucky Daze
Reserve: Candy Crush

Three-Year-Old Mare or Gelding
Winner: Wired & Lined

Western Park Pleasure
Winner: Rise To Fame
Reserve: The Red Falcon

Three-Year-Old Stallion
Winner: Jose’s Starstruck

Fine Harness
Winner: Gin And Juice
Reserve: Bingo Time

Winner: The Texas Lexus
Reserve: Ritz Entourage

Ladies Amateur Specialty
Winner: Jose’ Miss Dolly

Men’s Amateur Specialty
Winner: Jose’s Centerfold

Amateur Canter
Winner: I’m Copperfield
Reserve: Country And Famous

Juvenile Park Pleasure
Winner: B B King’s Jazz
Reserve: I Can’t Imagine

Four-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding
Winner: Greenspan
Reserve: Wicked Walking Witch

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

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

Four-Year-Old Mare or Gelding
Winner: Wicked Walking Witch

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

Four-Year-Old Stallion
Winner: Jimmer Fredette
Reserve: The Bourne Legacy

Amateur Park Performance
Winner: Dirty Sexy Money

Amateur Show Pleasure
Winner: I’m King James
Reserve: I Am The Rock Jr.

Professional Park Performance
Winner: Ain’t He Grande
Reserve: Dirty Sexy Money

Five-Year-Old Amateur Stallion
Winner: Command On Parole
Reserve: The American Patriot

Juvenile 11 & Under
Winner: A Cloudy Sky
Reserve: Gangster’s Hit Man

Professional Show Pleasure
Winner: Turnbow
Reserve: Masq Of Jazz

Five-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding
Winner: Memphis Mafia
Reserve: Miss Ebony Rose

15.2 & Under Amateur Mare or Gelding
Winner: I’m Stan The Man
Reserve: A Bit Of Change

Juvenile 12-17
Winner: Jose’ Caliente
Reserve: Jose’s Delightful Pusher

15.2 & Under Amateur Stallion
Winner: Lined Walkin’
Reserve (2-way tie): Boure’ & I’m Pushin N Line

Amateur Specialty
Winner: A Bruce Pearl

Winner: A Black Mamba
Reserve: Rebelation

15.2 & Under Mare or Gelding
Winner: An American Threat

15.2 & Under Stallion
Winner: A Strong Need For Cash
Reserve: Ozone’s Cut Above All

One-Night Horse Show
Winner: Money Tree Classic
Reserve (2-way tie): Woodbury Lions Club & Christmas In July

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

15.2 & Over Mare or Gelding
Winner: PGA
Reserve (2-way tie): Country And Famous & Trouble On The Line

15.2 & Over Stallion
Winner: I Am Jose’
Reserve: Gen’s Black Maverick