By Jennifer Maack-Condren

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The 31st annual Ozark Festival Charity Horse Show was held April 29 through May 1, 2004. Pauline Whitaker Arena on the campus of the University of Arkansas was the host for this show that benefited their Equine program. The Northwest Arkansas Gaited Horse Club’s members donate many hours to organize and participate in this show. Walking horses, racking horses, spotted saddle horses, Missouri Foxtrotters and Paso Fino’s made up the 434 entries that were presented over the four performances. This was an increase of nearly 60 entries over the 2003 numbers despite the rainfall and unseasonably cool temperature. Brent Grider of Columbia, Ky., judged the walking horses. Show manager Bill Fulkerson and show secretary Sharon Phillips kept thing running smooth both inside and outside of the ring.

The final gate call of the show presented four entries in the Walking Horse Championship Stake class with Curt Caldwell and Jubilee’s Image emerging victorious wearing the floral horseshoe and the blue ribbon for owners Matt and Lisa McWilliams. Pusher’s Repeat and Don Bills were the judge’s choice for the reserve tie for Lisa Benanait. Thursday

Jim Huffman opened the show with a win on Thorncrest’s Artic in the Two-Year-Old Open class for Ron Boyer and Karen McKinnis. The Four-Year-Old & Under Open Specialty class winner was Mega Cash with Chance Heflin in the irons for Jim Anderson. Fred Gibbany and Gen’s Final Showdown brought home the blue for wife Dee in the Lite-Shod Western Two-gait class.

Following these classes it was the ladies turn, Talk Is Cheap and Tamee LeNeve-Heiman made the good ride to win the Ladies Amateur Specialty class for the Don LeNeve family. Glenda Nichols and Eclectic won the Ladies Amateur class for Mrs. Glen Campbell.

Three-Year-Old Amateur class winners Coby Coffman and Major Production made it look easy for owner Gene Goff. Thorncrest’s PT Cruiser and Mike Clark claimed top honors in the Two & Three-Year-Old Park Pleasure class for Boyer and McKinnis.

Truman Volkart and Major Monkey Business were all business with a win in the Men’s Amateur class. Fred Gibbany returned for a repeat performance in the Lite-Shod Two-Gait class with Major Alibi, also for wife Dee. Caretaker’s Image and Ted Nichols were victorious in the Park Pleasure Two-Gait class for Campbell Ford-Mercury.

Four stallions entered the gate in the Aged Stallion class, but it was Pusher’s Repeat and Don Bills earning the top mark on the judge’s card for Lisa Benanati. Jubilee’s Image and Curt Caldwell secured the reserve spot. Friday

Jerry Manes and Major Production kicked off the Friday evening performance with a win in the Three-Year-Old Open class. Leland McDougal and Royal Vendetta made a good show to win the Two-Year-Old Amateur class for Curlee and McDougal.

The flashy gray, American Revolution was directed to a win in the Lite-Shod Amateur Two-Gait class by Cheyenne Jones for Stephen Ayers.

Thorncrest’s PT Cruiser returned to the ring to claim his second blue of the show in the Western Park Pleasure Two-Gait class under the direction of Mike Clark for Boyer and McKinnis.

Seven top entries entered the ring in the Men’s Amateur Specialty class, but it was The Juice and Truman Volkart making the victory pass for Truman and Deborah Volkart.

“Ladies first” is certainly true when speaking of the Show Pleasure Specialty class. Darlene Swaringim and Power Of The Dark earned their first blue of the season as a new duo.

Caretaker’s Image claimed his second blue of the show with a win in the Amateur Park Pleasure class with Glenda Nichols for Campbell Ford-Mercury.

Four determined juvenile riders entered the ring for the Juvenile Specialty 17 & Under class. Trigger Cash and Casey Heiman earned their first blue ribbon with the good ride. Heiman was all smiles to the crowd’s applause in his first victory pass. Trigger Cash is owned by the Don LeNeve family.

Earning another blue for the Don LeNeve family was JoAnn LeNeve and Silver Chanel. This flashy team earned the top spot in the Four-Year-Old Amateur Specialty class.

With a backdrop of storm clouds and lightening, all were eager to conclude the show before the impending rain. Major Monkey Business and Truman Volkart earned their second blue of the show with a win in the Open Amateur class.

Jerry Manes and Dixie to Motown made the victory pass in the Aged Mare & Gelding class for daughter Jerra Williams. And then the rain came; two and a half inches of rain fell during the night, on top of the five inches received the previous weekend. Saturday

Rain continued to fall off and on throughout the day making the warm-up ring impossible to use. To complicate matters, Mother Nature dropped temperatures into the low 40s. But the show went on, and went on well.

Caring on a family tradition of Ozark Festival Championships was Tamee LeNeve-Heiman and Talk Is Cheap in the Amateur Specialty Stake. JoAnn LeNeve and Distinguished Pride won this title the two previous years. Seven top entries didn’t make the judge’s job easy. Delightful Romeo and Glenda Nichols were named reserve champions.

Fred and Dee Gibbany earned the first and second places in the Lite-Shod Plantation Stake. Fred and Gen’s Final Showdown edged out wife Dee and Major Alibi for the second placing.

Royal Vendetta returned to make a victory pass; this time it was in the Two-Year-Old Stake with Curt Caldwell aboard for Curlee and McDougal. Code Name Watchout and Orlando Nelson rode to the reserve spot.

Fred and Dee Gibbany returned to the ring for another one-two finish. This time it was the Gaited Pleasure Open with Dee and Major Alibi riding out with the blue. Fred and Gen’ Final Showdown received the red ribbon. Gibbany and Gen’s Final Showdown returned later in the evening to win the Gaited Pleasure Stake.

Five entries made their way into the ring for the Three-Year-Old Stake. Major Production won her third blue of the show and fourth of the season for Gene Goff with Jerry Manes in the irons. Leland McDougal and Spun Magic made the good ride for the reserve honors.

The Juvenile Specialty Stake was the next gate call. These good riders prove the future will be bright in the world of walking horses. Casey Heiman and Trigger Cash made a repeat performance of their Friday night win. The LeNeve family was certainly proud of this third generation blue-ribbon winner. Brad Nichols and Dixie Jubilee rode to the reserve honors for Mrs. Glen Campbell.

Glenda Nichols and Caretaker’s Image won the Park Pleasure Two-Gait Stake for Campbell Ford-Mercury for the third year in a row. This duo remains a major force in the park pleasure division. Command With Pride and Anderson Nettleship were reserve. Brian Nichols and Eclectic also provided a repeat performance from 2003 with their win in the Amateur Stake. Reserve championship honors went to Major Monkey Business and Truman Volkart.

The unseasonable temperatures and rain didn’t dampen the feelings of accomplishment by the members of the show management and members of the Northwest Arkansas Gaited Horse Club with the increase in entries and spectators for this 31st annual show. Raincoats at Fayetteville are becoming as much of a tradition as hats are at Derby Day.

This concludes the highlights from the 31st annual Ozark Festival Horse Show.