By Mark Davis

As a cool breeze blew through the Calsonic Arena, the 75th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration got underway on Wednesday Morning with an 11 class schedule featuring the Halter, Country Pleasure, Trail Pleasure, Lite Shod and Park Pleasure divisions.

The judging panel for the 75th Celebration includes Rollie Beard of Lewisburg, Tenn., Derek Bonner of Mooresboro, N.C., Jamie Bradshaw of Union Grove, Ala., Allen Forman of Thomson, Ga., and Leigh Stuart of Bowling Green, Ky.

Promptly at 9 a.m., in keeping with Celebration tradition, the gates swung open and welcomed the seven entries in class one, Model Pleasure Walking Mares. Judge Leigh Stuart served as call judge for the opening event. Capturing that first World Championship of the Diamond Anniversary Celebration was Hot Silk and Robert Nelms at the lead for Carole Hargett of Shelbyville, Tenn. Hot Silk is a classic horse, meaning one 15 years or older and this makes this mare’s seventh win of the 2013 season. I’m A Coppertone Girl and Mike Hicks were reserve for Rushing Creek Walkers of Dickson, Tenn.  Parole’ Precious Girl and Bill Bobo were third for Sam and Michelle Moss of Franklin, Tenn. 

The young horses were on the track for class 2, Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Trail Pleasure Walking Horses, Optional Tack. Twelve of the 14 on the official Lions Club program came to work as judge Rollie Beard called the gaits. As the class was being worked, a large group of third graders from Shelbyville’s Learning Way Elementary School made their way to the stands. Of course, they selected their favorites and made their views well known to the panel. Cashing in and walking to the winner’s circle in the class was Daddy’s Cash and owner/exhibitor Donnie Headrick of Arrington, Tenn. This made this team’s fourth trip to the winner’s circle this season with dual wins at the International Grand Championships and a win last week at the Spring Hill, Tenn., Lions Club Show. Luv In The Air and Wilsene Moody Kwok captured the red streamers for Dr. Jack Kwok & Jessie Odell of Delaware, Ohio and Fayetteville, Tenn. My Black Cadillac and Allison Thorson rounded out the top three in the class for Allison Thorson and Mackenzie Morgan of Huron, Ohio and Shelbyville, Tenn.

Six of the seven expected made the call for class 3, Amateur Owned and Trained Lite Shod Walking Horses, as judge Derek Bonner took his first turn as call judge. Taking their fancy walking ways down victory lane was JFK’s Fancy Lady Leslie and Jay Laughlin up for Jesse Laughlin of Waynesville, Mo. Maggie Moore and Arriba pulled into the second position for Jim Leek and Maggie Moore of Murfreesboro, Tenn. Man Dressed In Black and owner/exhibitor Jesse Nelms of Chapel Hill, Tenn., were third.

Class 4, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Park Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings, was up next on the schedule with one of the two programmed teams working to the rail to work on exhibition as Jamie Bradshaw served as call judge. Making the victory pass for the second consecutive year was the reigning Owner-Amateur Riders 6-17 Park Pleasure World Grand Champions BB King’s Jazz and Jackson Stephens riding for Womack and Stephens of Grayson, Ky.

The Trail Pleasure entries were back on the track in class 5, Owner-Amateur Riders on English Trail Pleasure Walking Horses.  All nine of the programmed teams made the gate call and worked to the track to show for Diamond Anniversary World Championship acclaim as Allen Forman served as lead official in the class. Taking the win back to the Sunshine State, after capturing third at the 2012 Celebration, was Confederate Jazz and Kasey Kesselring riding for The Kesselring Family of Montverde, Fla. This made their fifth win of the 2013 season. Bel Air and owner/exhibitor Kathy Anderson of Shelbyville, Tenn., picked up the red streamers. A Bama Belle and Darren Gray rounded out the top of the class for Darren Gray and Joe Lester of Clermont, Fla. and Shelbyville, Tenn.

It was time to get in the western way for class 6, Western Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Four Years and Under (Riders Cup). As morning organist Brian Perry played “Home On The Range,” six of the seven expected showed their stuff for judge Leigh Stuart and her panel. Rising to the top of the division was Rise To Fame and Patrick Thomas in the saddle for Steve Wilson of Stoneville, N.C. Double Shot Of Cash and Laurie Toone rode into the second position for Tamara Hader of Bainbridge, Ga. She’s Venus and Jeff Laughlin was third for Ingram Management of Shelbyville, Tenn.

Staying in the western division, class 7 brought the Western Lite Shod Walking Horses, Four Years and Under (Riders Cup) to the track with all seven of the programmed entries coming to work as judge Rollie Beard called the gaits. It certainly was a good day for Lucky Daze and Patrick Thomas as they made the turn to the winner’s circle with a unanimous decision of the panel for Lisa Shockey Kessel of Moorefield, W.V. This young horse was a three time World Champion at the 2012 Celebration. Hannah Pulvers and No Way Jose’ were reserve for The Allen Family of Pleasanton, Calif. Que No Pare La Fiesta and owner/exhibitor Laurie Toone were third.

All 14 of the programmed entries for class 8, Owner-Amateur Riders on English Country Pleasure Walking Horses worked to the track to show their very best walking ways for judge Derek Bonner and his colleagues. The show has been moving right along this morning as only 3 classes remain at 10:40 a.m. Making that memorable victory pass in one of the larger classes of the morning was Designer Champagne and Maggie Moore riding for Maggie Moore and  Jim Leek of Murfreesboro, Tenn. This made this team’s fifteenth win of the 2013 season and repeated their 2012 win in this division, very impressive indeed! Headed back Florida way with reserve honors was I’m Soulja Boy and owner/exhibitor Darren Gray of Clermont, Fla. I’m Manhatten and owner/exhibitor Tamara Hader were third taking the honors back to Bainbridge, Ga.

Lite Shod Walking Horses, Three and Four Years Old (Riders Cup), class 9, came next on the schedule with seven of the 10 expected making the call to work for judge Jamie Bradshaw and his panel. Simple Lee Dangerous and Chris Helton topped this good class for The Graham Family of Niota, Tenn. Tijuana Jazz and owner/exhibitor Jimmy Laughlin carried the reserve honors back to Waynesville, Mo. Gigi’s Jamaican Generator and Nick Rippy rounded out the top three for Kaitlyn Rippy of Greenbrier, Tenn.

Class 10 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old English Trail Pleasure Walking Horses with 11 of the 13 on the books working to the rail as Allen Forman served as call judge for the class. Riding away with the unanimous win in the class, their sixth win of the 2013 season, was Honey Badger and Jordan Howell up for Jordan Howell and James Abernathy of Murfreesboro and Shelbyville, Tenn. Gigi’s Lunch Money and Bruce Vaughn collected the red streamers for Linda Vaughn and Jennifer Hankins of Valley City, Ohio and Paris, Ky. Jose’s Black Swan and Darden Gladney were third for Gladney Farms of Homer, La.

The final class of the Wednesday morning session brought all 15 of the programmed entries to the track for class 11, Owner-Amateur Riders on Country Pleasure Walking Horses, Four Years and Under, Optional Tack. Judge Leigh Stuart served as call judge for the class. Jackie Moon and Kasey Kesselring made the victory pass in the final class for The Kesselring Family of Montverde, Fla. I’m AK 47 and Darren Gray was reserve for Darren Gray and Joe Lester of Clermont, Fla. and Shelbyville, Tenn. Wicked Endeavor and Jana Anderson were third for Rachel and Krysta Allen & Dr. Al and Dr. Jana Anderson of Pleasanton, Calif. and Shelbyville, Tenn.

With a final victory pass, the first morning session of the 75th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was in the record book, and a great morning session it was. The morning sessions will continue Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Monday, starting promptly at 9 a.m. each day and starting Thursday night, the show will get underway at 7 p.m. in the big oval. Make plans to see history in the making at the Diamond Anniversary Celebration.