By Sadie Fowler

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. — Sunday offered slow down and a cool down and all the regular Celebration regulars received a reward for their loyal devotion as the atmosphere was relaxing and enjoyable while not lacking in the way of entertainment. 

 While anticipation was high for the last class early on Sunday evening, the four-year-olds, excitement also filled the atmosphere for the first class of the evening, the Lead Line World Grand Championship. Walker Williams and his Little Sista gave the spectators what they had been waiting for as many were anticipating his performance after seeing his handsome face all over town with Jerry Williams helping them out as they walked their way to this year’s world grand champions. The tried and true My Little Red Wagon and Lexi Grace Cofer had the support of their fans and also their super-qualified teacher Dee Yoder for reserve.

The Youth Mares and Geldings class came next Sunday evening with a new set of winners coming forward from the lineup compared to recent years in the past. Representing their home state of Alabama, I’m Coach Cal and Ashbee Norman delivered a winning play for the win with Colton Trimble pushing them hard every bit of the way for reserve aboard The Phenom for Vandygriff and Trimble. Both entries were new pairs to the top ranks in this class. 

Though numbers were not quite as deep in this class compared to last year, there was one commonality, and thatis the top two finishers. This year it was new rider Debbie Marbry doing her part to hold on to winning tradition aboard last year’s champion Slingblade as the world champions in the Amateur Western Country Pleasure class. No stranger to the reserve in this class, Diamond At The Ritz and Kimberly Walden held their own for reserve, repeating their consistency from both 2017 and 2018. 

A solid crop of seven entries made their way into Maverick Arena next for the Amateur Park Performance Walking Stallions and it was one of the showdowns of the night as the industry’s best amateur riders found their position and rode hard. Dr. Brittany Baum, riding Popcorn Sutton, found their lone spot and kept their ride focused and deliberate at every turn and were rewarded for their efforts with the win. Several other ladies didn’t make it easy on the winners, especially reserve champions Suzanne Moore and Ain’t He Grande who also rode smart and walked away with reserve.

 The English Trail Pleasure Five and Under featured seven entries as the agenda hit mid-point on the relaxed Sunday evening. The evening wasn’t perfect weather-wise but the fans among the stands nonetheless offered their support of the winners who were bound to win the class by statistics alone. There was basically no difference between Blacklist and blue as Joe Lester piloted Kimberly Walden’s trusty entry down victory lane as they have the past several years. One notch away, reserve champions One Breath Away and Carrie Martin were exactly that as they gave it their all and put forth a good show while doing so, representing Steve and Kathy Zeis.

No strangers to the winner’s circle for the past several years in a row, Powerstroke’s Evening Star and Sherri Pollack defended their as they captured the title in the Elite Amateur Ladies Walking Mares and Geldings class. Demonstrating her skills as a seasoned navigator of the Big Oval, Gayle Holcomb never let her focus shift as she expertly kept Reservation On Line in line for the reserve.

The Amateur Novice Youth 6-11 Novice Mares and Geldings class fired up the crowd arguably as much as any other class of the evening with everything seeming to heat up and get real loud on the Celebration grounds as the future riders of the industry let their passions be known to the Celebration masses. It had to be tough to judge this class, but in the end it was Annie’s Lined With Cash and Khloe Aymett McSwain to make memories reminiscent of the past, when her mom won the same class many years ago. 

Maci Ware is also making a name for herself at this Celebration. Riding like a seasoned pro, she had Dollars Silver Collector walking hard in fine fashion as they slid into the silver medal position with the crowd collectively cheering them on as well. 

 The novice show pleasure entries came next with their novice riders working hard to be seen in what was a huge class of 21. It could have gone a number of ways in this busy field and judges had to work hard to tie not just the winner, but the entire group of ribbon holders. In the end, tabulations revealed Par Three and Amber Zahnd had the precision necessary to narrowly cruise ahead of the pack for the Celebration blue. Another rider with her A game on and also an A in front of her name, Ashley Case fell just shy of the win, but the sky is still the limit for this rider as she proved her navigation skills were more than worthy as she piloted The Crimson Sky to reserve, moving up a position from last year’s third place finish. 

The Country Lineman and Claudia Gribble shook up the competition in the always exciting Youth 15-17 Pony class as Sapphire Gin and Morgan McCormick demonstrated their determined spirts by working hard for reserve.

The evening reached one of its peaks with the Amateur Walking Stallions class, where nine top teams paired up for their best show and they needed to, because this class is always a memorable one and always filled with many world champions. This year, Robin McDonald showed up with her game face on to deliver a winning performance with her new and near-perfect partner for the tough class, Uptight José, who won the same class last year with a different rider. Their stellar performance came just ahead of another well-known standout, A Bruce Pearl, who won the class two years ago, with Lisa Baum in the irons for the reserve. 

Novice no more, it was a hometown guy representing Shelbyville proud as Brandon Tate directed Carolina Chrome down victory lane for the solid blue while a buckskin colored horse represented his name well for reserve. Bonnie Carrier did a nice job piloting Buck Naked to the applause of the crowd as they walked out of the ring in the well-filled class.

The Amateur Four-Year-Old Walking Mares and Geldings followed and we all know Lisa Baum knows how to wear a smile and work a ring, which she did comfortably in the A division of this class as she once again rode hard for the win, this year on A Sunday Rose, her new partner for this particular class matchup. Strong Stock and Benjamin Bowen gave the winners a run for their money as they settled into the reserve position.

 The second section of this class also featured quite a match up and it took talent in more ways than one to earn a top ribbon as two doctors in the crowd put forth a healthy battle right until the end. While the Celebration crowd might not be quite as familiar with him, Dr. David Bullock had all the details in place to pull off this Celebration win with He’s Remington, and he enjoyed the trip down victory lane, something he hasn’t in a few years, which made it all the more sweet.

On the other end of the spectrum, folks are always impressed with Dr. Brittany Baum and they see her skills rewarded in blue-ribbon style often, even as recently as earlier on this very evening. In this class, she worked just as hard to keep both section wins from this class in the Baum family but fell just short as she graciously accepted reserve honors with Gotcha José. 

Once again, Honey Badger and LaMar DePoyster earned the winning nod among the fine field of entries in the Amateur Western Trail Pleasure class to defend their title with wisdom and beauty at the root of their winning strategy. Also familiar to Celebration fans, Luciano and Lindy Holt earned a great applause from the crowd for their solid finish.

No, it wasn’t your imagination if you wondered if anyone other than Dr. Jim Baum has won the Elite Amateur Gentleman Walking Mares and Geldings class in recent years. As always, he and Unreal had the chemistry that’s hard to top and the judges once again had them on top of this great class while C’Est La Vie and Bart McWaters made a return to the reserve position after missing out last year.

 While it’s quite a major deal to pull off what Dr. Baum did in the previous class, the Sunday night finale, the Four-Year-Old Stallions, was quite the opposite but no less short of exciting when Minor Ordeal topped the charts with Tyler Baucom guiding him through the mist in expert fashion for the win, making owners Dean/Riddley and the entire North Carolina fan club proud. In fact, folks all over the place have been anticipating this pair’s Celebration performance, perhaps deeming him the walking horse of the future. 

The quality was evident in this class of serious contenders and the Baum family closed out what had been a very good night when John Allan Callaway rode Lisa Baum’s spicy hot entry, No Mas Tequila, to a respectable reserve finish in the field of nine.