By Linda Scrivner

BELFAST, Tenn. - The Belfast Lions Club Horse Show, held the first Friday night in August, has the distinction of being called “the walkway to the Celebration”. Many of the horses seen there will wear the roses at the 2003 Celebration. The best of the best show at Belfast turns the quiet little town nestled in the hills of Tennessee into a bustling metropolis as everyone comes to see who will win the blues at this coveted show.

The Belfast Lions Club Show was the recipient of the 2002 TWHBEA Emerald Award for Excellence in Show Management, as well as being voted Reserve One-Night Show of the Year in 2002 by the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association.

Scott Benham of Ontario, Calif., marked the classes in the 30 class event. The 43rd annual Belfast Lions Club Show was a great one with entries totaling 256, down from the previous year’s entries of 314 and 280 entries in 2001. USDA officials were in attendance at the show and every horse shown was inspected.

The show was strong with talented top contenders. Show managers Thomas Crockett and Nancy Lynn Beech were very pleased with the turnout of high quality stock and their usual tremendous turnout of spectators.

In the championship stake five impressive entries answered the gate call. The team of Jimmy McConnell and The Black Nightshade came to the show with winning on their minds. And win they did. They were selected by judge Benham to carry out the garland and make the victory pass for Tom and Judy Waite. This was their sixth consecutive victory with earlier wins in the Gallatin Lions Club Grand Championship, Germantown Charity Show’s Stallion class and Grand Championship, Bethesda, Tenn., Grand Championship and the Magnolia Classic Grand Championship. The crowd roared in approval when the black stallion’s win as announced.

Reserve in this class was awarded to MG Above The Rest and Shawn Abee, who came to Belfast undefeated in 2003. Their earlier wins were the S.C. Ladies Auxiliary Horse Show Stallions and Geldings class and Grand Championship, the Walking For The Children Show in Dallas, N.C., Grand Championship and most recently, the Land-O-The-Sky Grand Championship. MG Above The Rest is owned by Tom and Sissy Weese.

The third place tie was awarded to another awesome team Pusher’s Force and Jason Day. They entered the ring with victories this year in the World Cup Spring Premier Grand Championship, the Money Tree Classic Grand Championship and the McMinnville Horse Show Grand Championship. They also followed their third place tie at Belfast with the Grand Championship win at Wartrace on Saturday evening. The Burl Compton family is proud of this stunning stallion.

The blue ribbon tally was led by Formac Stables claiming four Belfast blues. David Landrum Stables returned home with a trio of blues and Finish Line Farm, Jeff Givens Stables and Tim Gray of Southern Comfort Training Center won two blues each. There were 24 different stables or individuals returning home with Belfast blues.

Formac Stables’ first blue came in the Juvenile 11 and Under class with Christina Butler aboard Sunrise Que Sera Sera for Glen and Virgie Crutchfield. This new team brought four 2003 blues with them including 11 and under titles from the Holly Springs Charity Classic, the Mississippi State Charity Show, the White Oak Classic and the 11 and Under on Mares class at the Germantown Charity Show.

Jimmy McConnell directed Jim and Bonnie Gerhardt’s entry Major Gee Whiz to the blue in the MASCUP Four-Year-Old class. Major Gee Whiz had four previous blues in 2003 with McConnell in the saddle. They won the Mid American Spring Charity Junior class, the West Tennessee Strawberry Festival 15.2 and Under class, the Grinder’s Switch Four-Year-Old Stallions and Geldings class and the White Oak Classic Four-Year-Old Open.

In addition to the afore mentioned Stake victory, McConnell also claimed the 15-entry MASCUP Three-Year-Old Stallion title aboard Dragonfly for Mary Medina. This current world champion claimed victories in 2003 at the Gulf Coast Charity in the Three-Year-Old Stallion Extravaganza and the Grinder’s Switch Three-Year-Old Stallions class.

David Landrum Stables’ three blues began when General Splash and Joe Cotten claimed the MASCUP Two-Year-Old Stallion title aboard Karla Landrum’s General Splash. General Splash previously carried Karla Landrum to the blue in the Two-Year-Old Amateur Stallion class at the Mississippi State Charity Show.

In the Ladies Amateur Specialty class, the team of Miracle At The Ritz and Sandra Johnson worked hard for the blue. As they made the victory pass it was obvious that this was also the crowd’s choice. William B. and Sandra Johnson own this talented mare, which has a list of blue ribbons this season including the Children’s Classic Amateur Four-Year-Old and Over Mares and Geldings Specialty, the Spring Fun Show Amateur Ladies on Mares and Geldings class and Bethesda’s Amateur Ladies on Mares and Geldings class.

Landrum Stables’ third blue came in the form of a petite blond and a sorrel stallion with flowing mane and tail. Caresse Mills and Generator’s Champion are enjoying an undefeated season with previous blues in the National Trainers Show Amateur class and Amateur Championship, the Mississippi State Charity’s Amateur class and Amateur Championship, the Spring Fun Show Amateur Canter class and the Woodbury Lions Club Amateur class.

Finish Line Farm’s first blue came in the Four-Year-Old Amateur Mare and Gelding class with Miles Irby directing Hand Over The Cash. Hand Over The Cash is owned by Sue Irby. She directed him to the Great Strides Charity Show win in the same division earlier this season.

Finish Line Farm’s second blue was won by Kim Trumble and multi-titled world champion Gen’s Color Me In topping the Amateur 15.2 and Under Specialty for G.R. Trumble. They were also the winners of the Amateur 15.2 and Under Mares and Geldings Specialty at the National Trainers’ Show and the Amateur 15.2 and Under Specialty at the Columbia Spring Jubilee. Trainer Rodney Dick directed him to the mare and gelding title at the Gulf Coast Horse Show as well.

Jeff Givens’ first blue came in the Open Lite-Shod Specialty class. Givens was in the irons, to make the victory pass for Mike and Pam Ericson aboard Rainsong. Mike Ericson won the Lite-Shod class the previous night with Rainsong at the Fayetteville Blue Ribbon Horse Show.

Givens also won the Western Park Pleasure Specialty title with Generator’s Power Pusher for Dick and Sally Reiley. He has previously won blues in the same class this season at the Mississippi State Charity and the Mid American Spring Charity, as well as the Model class at that show.

David Ranson entered the 11-entry Three-Year-Old Amateur Stallion class on the spectacular I’m Silver Too. Tim Gray of Southern Comfort Training Facility prepares this team for the show ring. This undefeated team enjoyed victories at the Derby Classic, the Columbia Spring Jubilee and Lynchburg, Tenn.

A very excited Marguerite Thomas won the second blue for Southern Comfort. It was hard to tell who was more excited, Marguerite or mother, Lynn Womack. It was Thomas’ first blue in what she called “a real class.” Thomas has shown for 17 years with many wins in equitation and halter classes, but was thrilled with her first “real” win aboard current world champion Dangerous Medusa in the Three-Year-Old Amateur Mares and Geldings class. This flashy colored mare is owned by Womack Stables and won the World Cup Spring Premier’s Amateur Three-Year-Old class with Lynn Womack in the irons and the Murfreesboro Fine Harness with Womack at the whip.

Samuel Norris and Ink Spot, led by Angela Schweppe, won the blue in the Lead Line division for Pollack Silver Spur Ranch under the guidance of Jimmy Norris.

For the third year in a row, the Pleasure Ponies filled the ring. Topping 14 entries to win the blue were Rachel Mercier aboard Prime Time Cotton for Double Springs Farm and trainer Russ Keyser. Prime Time Cotton also won the Upper Cumberland Youth Country Pleasure class with Alex Bumpus and the Spring Fun Show Youth Country Pleasure class with Jeren Guthrie.

Valton Rummage won the next blue in the Weanling Fillies class. He lead the gorgeous Blue’s Lady Pusher and was selected the champion for Ronnie Rummage.

Bill Cantrell directed Crimson Lady to the Two-Year-Old Mares and Geldings blue for owner Bob Kilgore. This striking mare is out of world champion Black Jack Cash and previously won the same class at the Land-O-The-Sky Horse Show.

Ten outstanding entries answered the gate call for the Yearling Fillies class. Mask Kentucky Girl and Bobby Richards announced their winning presence by making the victory pass for owners Chris and Tami Proctor.

Another new team won the Weanling Colt class at Belfast. Keith Reed and Hello Jose’ made the victory pass for Bob and Carolyn Wehling. Hello Jose’ is by Jose’ Jose’ and out of world champion My Jackie O.

Erica Hartlein won the TWHBEA Youth Medallion class with Gingerbread Farms’ Solid Silver. Justin Jenne’ of Black Hawk Farm trains this excellent team. Their earlier wins in this division were at the Children’s Classic and the Alabama Summer Classic.

The team of Robert Nelms and Ambassador For RFK captured the top award in the Yearling Colts class for Everette and Doris Penick for Nelms Training Facility. They had earlier wins from Minor Hill, Liberty Lions and Woodbury.

Jennifer Dunn directed her Pusher’s Royal Flush to the head of the Trainers’ Wives and Family Specialty class for trainer/dad Steve Dunn. This team also won the Open Specialty at Fairview Lions Club Show in Cullman, Ala.

My Major Cash and Ray Fincher topped the 13-entry Amateur Show Pleasure Specialty for Ray and Nancy Fincher. This team made the crowd sit up and take notice from start to finish. They recently won the same division at the Neshoba County Classic.

Jaclyn Harney is now two for two after winning the Open Walking Seat Equitation class aboard Collector’s Hickory, trained by father John Harney. Her other win was in the Adult Equitation class at the National Trainers’ Show. She rode hard and flawlessly for these top honors.

Wayne Hall continued his winning ways with his Metro Grand in the Park Pleasure Specialty at Belfast. Chris Messick of Full Moon Farm trains this team. The duo has earlier wins at the Upper Cumberland Walking Horse Show, Gallatin Lions Club Show and Liberty Lions Club Show.

Another exciting new team this season is that of John F K’s Pusher and Robin MacDonald. This stallion is owned by Bruce and Robin MacDonald hails from Dick Peebles Stable. They announced their winning presence in the Amateur Specialty at Belfast. John F K’s Pusher began his 2003 season by winning the Grand Championship at Starkville, Miss., with Dick Peebles aboard, followed by blues in the Amateur Stallions Specialty at the National Trainers’ Show, the Amateur Specialty at Gallatin and the 50 and Over Amateur Specialty at the Columbia Spring Jubilee with Robin MacDonald in the irons.

Groovy Chick was next to exit the ring with a blue streaming behind her. Owner Kathy Potter directed this beautiful filly to the top of the Two-Year-Old Amateur Mares and Geldings class. Earlier wins in this class were at the Liberty Lions Club Show and the Land-O-The Sky Show. John Puckett Stables claims the training duties for this awesome team.

Redman Uprising and Meagan Batey netted a Belfast blue in the 11-entry Youth Riders 12-17 Specialty for Batey and Hayes. They also won the same Summertown title under Knox Blackburn Stables’ banner. This team is now headed for the big oval in Shelbyville, Tenn.

After her season blue ribbon debut at Upper Cumberland and a win in Lynchburg, Tenn., in the Three-Year-Old Mares and Geldings class, Undeniably Dumas and Winky Groover claimed the blue in the MASCUP Three-Year-Old Mares and Geldings class for Hollywood Acres.

The Walking Pony class was topped by Final Keeper and Morgan LeGate. They are trained by Justin LeGate who recently directed Final Keeper to the Eagleville Lions Club Grand Championship for the Gary LeGate family. LeGate’s earlier wins on this fabulous pony were at the National Trainers’ Show, the Gulf Coast Charity Show, the Maury County Charity Show and the Bedford FFA Show.

Buford Pusher and Jack Littrell garnered the blue in the Four-Year-Old Amateur Stallions class. They are prepared by Blackburn Training Center and Wanda Blackburn owns this talented mount.

Falcon’s Hitman and Bart Gilmer win the Two-Year-Old Amateur Stallions title at Belfast for Gilmer, Myers and Gilmer in a stunning performance.

This highlights the 43rd Belfast Horse Show