Posted August 31, 2001

by Carole Hargett

It was raining all day and the ring was deluged with water. Trucks and bob-cats worked feverishly to remove the wet surface and drag the track. It didn’t seem to dampen the spirits though of the fans who were assembling in the stands. It was retirement night for the reigning world grand champion, Cash For Keeps and the Four-Year-Old world grand championship class. All in all, the night was action packed and memorable.

As was tradition, Vern Serex and his trumpet called the first championship class to the gate. There were no dampened spirits in the ring either, as the Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Specialty, Amateur Riders, World Grand Championship class kicked off the night. The stylish walking of the 23 entries in the ring made one round before Hankins called for a workout. Four horses did not make the call. The class was reduced to 14 remaining riders and horses. The very finest the industry has to offer, now rode for the roses.

Fully Armed and Joe Dixon made an elegant ride to accept the challenge trophies, floral horseshoe and the tri color. Fully Armed captured five blues this year at the Money Tree, Bethesda, Ga. Ladies Auxiliary, Carrollton Ga., and the East Hall Dug Out show. Randall & Gloria Dixon are the owners of this impressive horse. Everyone at Doug Barnes Stables was beaming as Bob Lawrence and his fine going horse, The Beaming Skywatch took reserve honors. Stuart and Pam Gibbs own the entry. Roger and Mary Shoupes own the third place winner, Pride All Right with Roger Shoupes in the irons.

Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, Specialty, World Grand Championship opened the gate to 10 of 15 listed riders. Two riders had the time out for tail set adjustments as soon as all entries were in. Martin called for a workout. Four entries were selected to park in; the remaining riders worked and then the four who parked in reentered the ring for their workout. A Specialist, Electrifying, Pusher’s Black Hawk, and Rankin County were called to park in. That got the crowd going! Pusher’s Black Hawk asked to be excused.

Three challenge trophies are awarded in this class; the Dewey E. Arnold Memorial Challenge trophy, The Gen’s Fire and Ice Challenge trophy, and the Ruth S. Watson Memorial Challenge trophy. Returning for the second year is A Specialist and Susan Gordon. With that win they retired the Dewey Arnold and Gen’s Fire & Ice Challenge trophies. Arthur and Susan Gordon are the owners. Putting in an electrifying performance was Electrifying and owner/rider Dona Griffin from Monroe, NC. Kelley Garrett picked up third place on Rankin County for Floyd Sherman of Dallas, Texas.

The gate closed on 18 of 20 entries for the Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, Specialty, World Grand Championship. The ribbons accumulated by the horses in this class are enormous! Not an easy class to call for Tuck or to judge. Horses and riders were stepping to perfection as they seemed to walk in time to the music.

And near perfection they were, as Howard Hamilton and Pusher’s Beaming Pride CK collected the tri color for the win. Rambo’s Velvet Shadow collected his second reserve title, this time with Phil Peters aboard. Genius’s Dixie Chick and owner/rider Sheila Mack had five ribbons this year. They add a third place tie to four other blue ribbons. What a Celebration!

The Walking Horse Trainer’s Auxiliary Members on Walking Horses, Specialty received 18 members into the ring for Hankins to call. The Auxiliary celebrated 30 years of service in 2001. The ladies in this class are responsible for many services to the industry including the awarding of scholarships and presenting Money Tree Classic horse show. All the ladies showing here were winners. Larry Bright entertained the crowd as usual with “All Shook Up”.

The American General and Paige Edwards rode to the win for Herb Murath of Stone Mountain, Ga. They also retire the Eb’s Cloud Nine Challenge trophy and the Darlene Shue Memorial Challenge trophy. Major Splish Splash and Karla Landrum collected reserve for Frank & Rita Hudgins of Franklin. Giving a good presentation was Beth Young and He Keeps On Giving for that yellow third place ribbon.

Novice classes were well represented this year, and what better way to exit the novice ranks than to take the title of world grand championship with you. Thirty-two riders vied for that distinction. Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Walking Horses, Specialty World Grand Championship was called by Hand and a workout was soon the order of the day(night). Seventeen entries remain for further work. Three entries listed did not show. Everyone rode hard and the horses mirrored that effort. The crowd came alive as they urged on their favorites.

One horse and rider made a “grand” exit from the novice ranks. That team was Beth Sims and Gen’s Major Motion for the Mike Chiappari family. What a major way to exit...under the spotlight! A novice no longer! Cutting to the chase was Cut The Smoke and Barbara Ann Pate for Russell and Barbara Ann Pate of Savannah, Tenn. They wore that red ribbon well. Kodachrome and Cathy Baird carried the third place yellow ribbon with them as they left the ring.

One of the most beautiful classes of the Celebration was the Owner-Amateur Lady Drivers, Fine Harness. Judge Hankins called nine lovely ladies to the gate. Silk, satin and sequins glistened under the lights as they made their way around the ring. Larry Bright can sure pick ‘em. He played “Oh, You Beautiful Doll” for the ladies. As the entries lined up, handlers entered the ring to ready the horses for judging. One entry asked permission to exit.

The top three ties were totally Tennessee. Their performance was right on the money as On The Money and Kathy Owen went right for the blue. Double Springs Farm of Murfreesboro, Tenn. owns the entry. A Major Masterpiece owned by Black Gold Farm of Normandy earned the reserve title with Robbie Person at the whip. Jada Floyd and Hal’s Six Shooter collected the third place tie for Floyd and Floyd of Columbia, Tenn.

With judge Martin in charge, 19 of 20 Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings, Specialty Riders 12-17 Years, World Grand Championship entered the big oval. The young riders skillfully maneuvered their horses, demonstrating that each one was a force to be reckoned with. No wonder, many of the horses had top ties at the Celebration.

Taking that tri color ribbon ride for the second time in this class was Gen’s Fire & Ice and Stephanie Gordon for Arthur and Susan Gordon of Orange, Calif. In winning this class, they retire all three challenge trophies. Gen’s Fire and Ice’s Celebration wins are remarkable and too lengthy to mention once you have passed thirty ribbons. Another memorable ride was made by Lauren Clayton on Eb’s Cloud Nine. This Georgia entry is owned by the Mark Clayton family. They made the reserve red ribbon ride. Bill Callaway and Tennessee Gen went straight to the third place tie for Moore, Littell & Callaway.

Twelve entries of 13 listed, answered the gate call for the Western Park Pleasure Walking Horses, World Grand Championship. Cowboy hats, colorful attire and smooth gaited horses earmarked the only western class of the night.

Repeating that world grand championship win this year was Strike It Rich and Joe Dixon for Randall & Gloria Dixon. They retire the Lorraine Martinez Memorial Challenge trophy and the Strike It Rich Challenge trophy. Gliding in for the reserve honors was Bad News’ Gold Hard Cash and Trish Wooten; that’s four ribbons for the horse and owners Nadea Watt of Scottsdale, Az. Taking the third place honors by storm was Cash Storm and Wayne Westbrook for Robert Westbrook of Flower Mound, Texas.

There is always a sense of anticipation when the young two-year-olds come to visit the big oval. The earlier qualifiers were exciting and the crowds expected the same from this class. Seventeen of 20 entries were ready to show what they had. Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Walking Horses, World Grand Championship was set to crown a winner. The talent displayed in this class rivaled the older horses.

Roanoke, Va. resident Janice Fostek and I’m Willie Wonka were the newly crowned champions. Carrying the roses, they made that special spotlight ride with the tri color waving. They rode to the blue ribbon at Bethesda and Moore County horse show. Joe and Janice Fostek own the entry. Darwin Oordt and The Total Score were totally thrilled with their reserve title and red ribbon. McDonald and Oordt own the entry. A golden moment was had by Jeanine Gullett and The Golden Soverign for Jim Gullett of Duluth, Ga.

Tradition ruled again as the announcer called for a third inning stretch. Everyone to your feet! The four-year-olds were closing out the night. Somewhere in the field of 11 horses, would be the next junior world grand champion. Junior horses are first introduced to the canter in their four-year-old year; this class is the big test. Most top contenders will go on to vie for the Stake next year. “Now take that deep seat and show the running walk.” Nothing gets the crowd going like a group of big walking stallions. The crowd roared their approval as the riders headed for the line up.

The junior world grand champion title went to Out On Parole and Steve Dunn, making his daddy proud. Owner, Autumn Crest Farm, and 21,831 fans watched the entry win. Larry Edwards rode Private Charter to a strong reserve for R. Bud Moore of Al. Ex Dividend and Allan Callaway captured the third place title for George & Beverly Greenup.

It all comes down to this. Saturday night. Big Stake. Battle royal. That’s what this Celebration is all about. Stats people take notice: total entries, 5056 (old record was 4,613 in 1995), total horses entered, 2,457 (the old record was 2,226). A great year for the Tennessee Walking horse!