by Kay Swisher

TAZEWELL - Va. -- Within the valley and ridge province of the Appalachian Highlands, the Tazewell-Russell Shrine held their 29th annual Walking Horse Classic July 29-30, 2005. As a result of the friendly greeting exhibitors received at the show ground entrance, a complimentary dinner on Friday night, Saturday morning treats, beautiful trophies and floral horse shoes awarded to class winners, and great Southern hospitality, it is understandable why the show is constantly voted by East Coast horse associations as the “Best One Night.”

The horse show is the biggest fund raiser for the local Tazewell-Russell Shrine Club with all proceeds going toward hospitals and helping local children overcome handicaps and hardships.

Friday evening over 1,500 sponsors and horse enthusiasts gathered for a ham, chicken and roast beef dinner with all the trimmings. To help work off the large dinner, the sponsors provided a time for dancing and fellowship until early Saturday morning.

Saturday morning opened as a beautiful day with comfortable, cooler temperatures. By 5:00 p.m., however, it had warmed up and was time for the 204 entries to come before the honorable Nathan Clark of Arab, Ala.

The show opened with Kenny Compton and The Jazz Queen presenting the American Flag, Beth Collins and Rebel Run presenting the Virginia Flag and organist Connie Dunlap playing the national anthem. Robert Wood performed announcing duties for the 33 classes and Jennifer Pack caught the high steppers on film.

Baucom Stables of Monroe, N.C., took home a trailer load of ribbons, floral horse shoes and silver and crystal bowls with their seven first places. Steve Hankins Stables, a local stable, didn't have carry their six wins very far.

Even though the day showed no signs of rain, it ended with London Rain bringing the horse people to attention as the big black stallion showered fans with his style in the Walking Horse Stake to claim the floral horse shoe. Chad Baucom was in the irons for Charles Clark of Charlotte, N.C. Steve Hankins claimed the reserve honors on Gen's Triple Pride for Kenny Compton.

The first class of the evening began with a youth class and a blue ribbon win for Marco Etchebarne riding the Plantation Lite Shod entry, Sundrop Straight Up for owner Jeff Hatcher. Charlene Gibson returned on Sundrop Straight Up to claim the Amateur Lite-Shod victory later in the evening.

The Amateur Two-Year-Old class began to get the crowd excited as Air Force One and Courtney Luttrell flew to the winner’s circle for Griffith and Spangler. Samantha Gaddy and Sure Threat's Masterpiece had the stunning success to claim the Walking Pony class. Hometown Tazewell man, Kenny Compton walked for the blue colors with UNC in the Three-Year-Old class.

As always, one of the most exciting and favorite classes of the evening was the Youth 11 and Under. All 10 young people had a tough ride for the blue ribbon honors, but Miss Lindsey Hess and Miss Dumas Ebony were the favorites of the night. In the ETWHA Members class Armed Man and Marty Reel had the right walk to claim the victory pass.

In the popular Park Performance class Craig Baggerly and Gold Coin Cash cashed in on the glory for the evening. Milly Player and Dark Storm Warning took the blue ribbon back to Lancaster, S.C., for Player, Buckner and Bumgardner. Scott Adcock and his new ride, Doc's Gypsy Rose rode for the first and last time in the Novice Amateur Rider class by winning the blue ribbon.

In the Two-Year-Old class, Kevin Luttrell and Cuttin' Class didn't cut their performance as they earned the judge's nod for owner Delores Griffin. Stormy Walks and Gerald Smith stormed the Amateur 50 and Over class to walk the victory pass. The Open Specialty horse Night Watch and trainer Kevin Luttrell rode for the winning honors for Shirley Judd of Nashville, Tenn.

General Bradley and Samantha Green caught the attention of the judge to win the Park Pleasure Youth class. Star Of The Future and Sam McLaughlin out shined the competition to win the Open 15.2 & Under WHTA Riders Cup class for Whindem Farms.

The most exciting and crowd yelling class of the evening was the Youth 12-17 with 14 top quality horses. I'm A Evil Rebel and owner-rider Madison Holloway garnered all the honors and glory. The Amateur Show Pleasure gate call was for 12 entries and Fame's Royal Rascal and owner-rider Jennifer Brown wore the crown in the victory circle.

Trainer Steve Hankins and owner Evelyn Krippendorf shared the big black Sandy's Senator to win the Pro-Am class. The Hess Family of C.M., Connie and Lindsey took the honors in the Three-Year-Old class with their entry of She's Push In Command with trainer Chad Baucom in the irons. Another entry trained by the Baucom Stables was Greyline. This entry, owned and ridden by John Callicutt, won the NCWHA members class.

Ronald Mosley made a classy show to win the Aged Mares and Geldings class on Classic Rebel for Jill Nichols of Mt. Airy, N.C. Clay Mills and Another Pushbutton knew all the right buttons to push to claim the title of Amateur Specialty champion. Trainer Joe Houk bested the Four-Year-Old competition aboard Awesome Rev for owner David Vaughn.

The big black Sunfire Phoenix and Harriett VanDyke walked to the Open Park Pleasure winner’s circle.The Raffle with Kirk Wilkerson up for Jim Wilkerson carried the 15.2 Amateur honors back to Maryville, Tenn.

Wired 440 and Mike Conley had the right spark to win the trophy for Larkin Turner in the Plantation Lite-Shod class. Real Bad Pusher and owner-exhibitor Donna Skelly claimed the roses in the always prestigious Ladies Specialty class.

In the large class of 12 Four-Year-Old entries, Ozone Ritz and Beth Carol Thomas walked to the championship title for Matt Kilgore of Tuscaloosa, Ala. The ladies ruled in the Park Pleasure Four-Years-Old and Under class as Girls Rule and Courtney Gibson claimed the blue and trophy for Jeff Hatcher.

In the Amateur class, Generator’s Old Gold and Hunter Rouse showed the three-gaits to claim the championship title. Benny Johnson and Shaker's Spotted Threat showed they were a threat to the other Park Pleasure Western horses when the accepted the top ribbon.

Major Player and Kevin Luttrell, owned by Delores Griffith, topped the Open Show Pleasure class.

Complete results follow and can be viewed at