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by Renee Isaacs


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Kentucky Walking Horse Association held their awards banquet and dance on Jan. 11 and 12 at the Embassy Suites in Lexington, Ky. Earl Rogers started the event by welcoming everyone and asking Kenny Smith to say grace prior to the meal.

The blue book pages were auctioned off with John Jackson, Duane Rector, Tim Napier and Earl Rogers assisting. The pages brought the association over $8,000. Several auction items were presented from various places and were sold among the membership. Approximately 70 different divisions were awarded along with sportsmanship awards, which many people look forward to each year.

Each year, the association invites someone new who has supported the industry to the Hall of Fame. Three new members were inducted and were given an award by previous hall of fame members.

The first inductee was one who even at a young age had a love for horses. As a boy, he began training and showing horses at local horse shows for a 4-H project. He quickly became hooked. His first start was working horses for George Saufley. Upon high school graduation, he moved to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Louisville to work with Leeds Ballard. Later, this inductee moved to Harrodsburg where he worked along side of Bob McQuerry. From Harrodsburg, he went out on his own to spend the next 30 years as the trainer at Snuffy Smith Stables in London, Ky.

In his many years, he has had the opportunity to start and train many talented horses, including world champion pony Dancing Duke, world grand champion Masquerading, Kentucky Celebration Two-Year-Old champion Midnight’s Lightfoot and multi-Spring Jubilee winner Coin’s LTD. One of this inductee’s great loves was to start a colt, then for an amateur or juvenile to ride their horse. He wanted them to show with pride. He was well known for his special talent to teach a horse to canter. He has left a legacy of riders and owners who will never forget who taught them to love and ride the Tennessee Walking Horse or who taught their horse to do the most beautiful rocking chair canter when no one else could. This inductee served on the KWHA board of directors and was Trainer of the Year by points in 1987. The inductee is number 30, Bobby Burton.

The second inductee would, as a child, ride anything. His father, Earl Rogers Sr., and Claude Brown introduced him to the walking horse. At an early age, he began training horses with Berry Coffey, Bob McQuerry, Bill Bailey and Eddie Martin at the Claude Brown Stables in Morehead, Ky.  His love of the breed grew over the years. His father then built their own barn where he still spends most of his time. He has been and still is a successful trainer, exhibitor and breeder of walking horses. He is a second generation walking horse advocate and a hall of fame inductee. He started helping out with Owingsville Lions Club horse show in the 1960s, where he soon became and remains the show manager. In fact, no one can remember how many years he has been the show manager. Under his oversight the Owingsville Lions Club Horse Show has grown from a two-night show to a four-night show and is one of the most prestigious walking horse shows in the county where many a world champion has shown.

He is now a member of the oversight committee of the HIO. He is a Kentucky board member of TWHBEA and a member of the board of directors of the KEEP project and has served in that capacity for three years. As a KEEP board member and KWHA president, he has helped to develop and implement the breeders’ incentive program and worked with Kentucky legislature to get the program passed. He worked hard to ensure that the program benefited all horse breeds including the walking horse. This program has successfully provided a shot in the arm for Kentucky walking horse breeders. As a KWHA member for many years he has been active within the association, serving on the board and now as president. This inductee is Earl Rogers Jr.

The third inductee also was involved with horses at a young age. His uncle had started buying and showing walking horses when the inductee was a child. He took his first ride behind Gary Hollen on Victory Boy, also known as Pistol Pete. He began his solo-riding career aboard American Saddlebreds when a family friend took a group for riding lessons. From there, he moved to 4-H shows and made the first of many appearances to come aboard walking horses as a teenager.  Upon making the move to college, his mother remarked that if she was going to send him to college, she was going to have to send a horse too. She did and for the next few years, the inductee boarded horses at Conrad Long and Gilbert Miller’s barns.

It was from Long’s father, Lucien, that he purchased one of his favorite horses also named Lucien. While at Miller’s he learned a great deal about training and showing horses from Damon Dunaway. He also credits a lot of his success to Bobby Burton. He would show with Burton on Friday night and sleep on the Burton family couch and go back to the show again on Saturday. It was from Burton that he purchased one of his first show horses, named Midnight Wee Twilight. This horse was in a long line of successfully trained amateur mounts, including Kentucky Celebration winners Shades Of Lightfoot, a personal favorite of the inductee Rose’s Midnight Run, Beam’s Royal Star, Belle Street Blues, That’s The Bottom Line, No Earthly Idea, Sweep The Floor, Times Two, Cover Charge, A Sure Pushover, Watchmaker, John F K’s Diamond Delight, Pasha and The Final Design. The Final Design took our inductee to a Celebration blue when the pair claimed amateur owned and trained canter honors at the 2002 National Celebration. He also claimed reserve honors in this division with both the Final Design and Times Two. John F K’s Diamond Delight went on to claim world championship honors in the juvenile division with his daughter, Dalia, aboard which was a proud moment for this man.

Besides contributing many great rides and memorable horses to the walking horse world, the inductee has also contributed a great deal of time and effort to better the walking horse industry. He has served as president of the KWHA in 1996, 1997 and 2000. He has been a member of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration Advisory Board and has also served as a member of the TWHBEA board of directors. He was instrumental in the forming and organization of the KWHA-HIO and has served for many years as its chairman. He also co-owns and operates the Smoky Mountain Horse Sales, a bi-annual event held in White Pine, Tenn. This inductee values his family and has been blessed with a supportive family. It is not uncommon to be at a show and see his wife, Renee, daughters, Molly, Annabelle and Dalia, his mother and his uncle along with others cheering him on. He is equally proud of them and has found great success in working along side his uncle, Calvin Hacker, and his daughter, Dalia Smith, at Buzzard View Stables in Manchester, Ky. He considers himself lucky to have many friends in the walking horse industry. This individual is Kenny Smith.

The remaining awards were given out and Earl Rogers invited everyone to come back to the general membership meeting on Saturday and the dance on Saturday night.

Saturday morning, the KWHA Ladies Auxiliary meeting was held. New officers were elected and discussion about the horse show was voted on. The Spring Jubilee show will be held on April 17-19 at the Mercer County fairgrounds. The judge will be Brent Grider of Columbia, Ky. A few classes have been added, so watch for the class sheet in a letter to come from the association.

Later in the day, the general membership meeting was held where the presidential race was held and board of directors were elected. The 2008 KWHA President is Earl Rogers Jr. of Owingsville, Ky. The meeting was adjourned and many members came back on Saturday night for the dance and raffle.

As many danced the night away, some played cards and some played casino games to later buy auction items. Woody Woodruff was the auctioneer for the raffle and the auction items. At the end of the night, $1,895 was available to the lucky one to be the last name in the pot of the 50/50 raffle. When it came down to the last four, they agreed to split the money. The four were Cindy Napier, Tommy Smith, Cookie Wiley and Johnny Cook.

The KWHA is very appreciative of everyone who supported the events and anyone who might be interested in being a new member can see any officer for information.