By Mark Davis

It’s Saturday morning in Shelbyville at the 70th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and as always, Saturday is All Youth Day on the Celebration grounds with clinics, horse judging and other contests taking place all over the grounds.  Because of that, the morning performance is weighted towards youth classes with the Lead Line, Equitation and Trail Pleasure divisions mixed among one additional Amateur Owned and Trained Trail Pleasure class and classes for the Yearling division, which will have it’s Championship during tonight’s performance.

The judges for the 2008 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Rollie Beard of Lewisburg, Tenn., Nathan Clark of Arab, Ala., Jamie Hankins of Paris, Ky., Tommy Howell of Shelbyville, Tenn., and Mack Motes of Eagleville, Tenn.  Judging the Equitation division will be Terri Mosley of Mt. Airy, N.C., Dee Dee Sale of Lewisburg, Tenn., and Bill Stricklend of Joppa, Ala.

Class 59E, Auxiliary Equitation, Medal Class, Youth Division, Riders 6-11 Years, started off the morning performance.  Three of four with reservations made the call to work under the watchful eye of Call Judge Terri Mosley and her Equitation panel.  For those unfamiliar, Equitation is the art of riding and horsemanship and is judged based on the skills of the rider, not the performance of the horse.  When the pattern work was complete, morning announcer Mark Farrar, Jr., announced that all three judges agreed on the placing of all three horses and called Kaitlyn Rippy of Greenbrier, Tenn., to accept top honors in the division.  Rachel Baker of Murfreesboro, Tenn. was reserve, while Meme Anderson of Bishopville, S.C. accepted third.

The crowd grew in Calsonic as all the fan clubs of the teams made their way in for class 60, Lead Line Ponies, Riders 6 and Under with all 14 of the teams on the program making their way up from the warm up to show off for the panel, led by Judge Mack Motes, and their excited fan clubs.  As the judges walked the lineup, each fan club gathered by their pony cheering them on as the judges came by.  There’s just nothing like a lead line class to get a crowd on their feet. Topping the division once again was Shake’s Little Midnight and McKenna Dempsey with proud granddad Charles Gleghorn at the lead for Charles and Joy Gleghorn of Fayetteville, Tenn.  Ace and Libby McConnell pulled into the second position with Aunt Stacy Blackburn at the lead for Kyle and Tyler Bailey of Lynchburg, Tenn.  Sammy Miami and Brooklyn Wheelon accepted the yellow streamers with mom Ashlea Wheelon at the lead for Brooklyn Wheelon of Petersburg, Tenn.

Class 61 brought the Owner-Amateur Youth English Trail Pleasure, Riders 12-17 up to the ring with 20 of 30 expected working the rail as Judge Rollie Beard called the gaits in the event.  Riding to the top of the section was Generator’s Sundevil and B.J. Richards in the irons for Glenda Levine and B.J. Richards of Jamestown and Franklin, Tenn.  A Sure Fire and Paige Bennett rode to the red ribbon for Lynn Marchetti of Cottontown, Tenn.  High Tide Surfin and Bradley Richards were third for proud mom Stacey Richards of Franklin, Tenn.

A big crowd of yearlings made their way into Calsonic Arena for class 62, Owner-Amateur Yearlings, of 2007 Foal with 32 of the 34 on the books making the call and beating the clock to have their chance to walk into the winner’s circle.  With the large number of entries, the panel, led in the event by Judge Nathan Clark, made the decision that additional work would be necessary in order to determine the champion in the event.  The field was pared down to 15 and asked to work once again for their chance to walk away with the World Championship honors in the class.  Out of a field of 32, it was the team of My Miss Melanie and Rhiannon Barker walking away with the win for Jones, Richards and Barker of Tylertown, Miss., Hendersonville and Murfreesboro, Tenn.  This marks this filly’s second World Championship title as they took home the silver in the TWHBEA Youth Yearling event on Friday morning with Taylor Morgan at the lead.  Out’A My Way and Amanda Winters pulled in for the reserve honors for Winters and Wright of Mt. Juliet, Tenn.  Stacey Richards and Bob Marley led in for the golden streamers for Chris Richards of Franklin, Tenn.

Back in the Trail Pleasure division, 18 of the 23 on the entry sheets came to show in the Amateur Owned and Trained English Trail Pleasure, No Professional Training Within 90 Days division.  Judge Jamie Hankins called the gaits in the section.  Congratulations and celebrations were in order for Playin’ Hooky and owner/exhibitor Liz Gassaway of Shelbyville, Tenn., as they picked up their third win of the 2008 Celebration in the division with a unanimous decision of the panel.  Lion King and Connie Waldo were in the second position for Waldo & Leek, LLC of Cedar Creek, Texas and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Owner/exhibitor Jared Carrier of Franklin, Ky., was third with Princess Power.

The Equitation division was back on the schedule for class 64E, Auxiliary Equitation, Medal Class, Youth Division, Riders 12-14 (Canter).  Four of the five with reservations made the call to show their talents for Call Judge Dee Dee Sale.  Capturing the medal and all the honors in the event was Maggie Mae White of South Lyon, Mi.  Allison Thorson of Huron, Ohio was reserve with Hailey Douglas of Readyville, Tenn., accepting third.

The young riders returned for class 65, Owner-Amateur Youth English Trail Pleasure, Riders 6-11 years with 18 of the 20 expected coming to work for their chance to make that ride down victory lane at the 70th Celebration.  Judge Tommy Howell served as Call Judge in the section.  Turning in a “jazzy” performance to pick up the win, She’s Pretty Jazzy and owner/exhibitor Kaitlyn Rippy took the honors home to Greenbrier, Tenn.  Rippy had already won one blue this morning in the Youth 11 and Under Equitation division.  Close behind with a very honest performance was Abe Lincoln and Lake Weaver riding in for the red streamers for Jeffery and Kerri Laughlin of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Jose’s Sweet & Spicey and Hunter Morgan rounded out the top three for Lisa Weaver and Hunter Morgan of Doyline, La., and Bell Buckle, Tenn.

 The yearlings were back on the track in class 66, Yearling Fillies or Geldings, of 2007 foal.  Twenty-two of the 28 on the books made their way to the rail to work for World Championship acclaim.  Judge Mack Motes led the panel in the event.  Making it three for three, it was My Miss Melanie and Chris Richards walking to the winner’s circle for Jones, Richards and Barker of Tylertown, Miss., Hendersonville and Murfreesboro, Tenn.  Major General’s Magic Miss and Nathan Mills accepted the red ribbon for Hoyte Eakes of Nashville, Tenn.  Amanda Winters and Out’A My Way took home the yellow streamers for Winters and Wright of Mt. Juliet, Tenn.

The Equitation riders were back for the final time of the morning for class 67E, Auxiliary Equitation, Medal Class, Youth Division, Riders 15-17 (Canter).  All five of the teams expected made the call for their chance to ride for top honors in the event.  Judge Bill Stricklend served as Call Judge for the section.  Riding away with the medal and the approval of all five judges was Amy Nesius of Chapel Hill, Tenn.  Stephanie Smith of Murfreesboro, Tenn. accepted the second award, while Niki Leggett of Murfreesboro, Tenn., was third.

Class 68 highlighted the Owner-Amateur Youth Western Trail Pleasure, Riders 12-17.  Sixteen of the 26 entered pre-show made their way up to Calsonic Arena to work for the good Saturday morning crowd on hand.  Judge Rollie Beard called the gaits in the division.  Turning in a sure fire good performance to capture the win in the division was A Sure Fire and Paige Bennett taking home the blue for Lynn Marchetti of Cottontown, Tenn.  Ms. Streetwalker and Ashley Wall were reserve for Ralph Pinner, Doug Toone and Ashley Wall of Senatobia, Miss., Spangle, Wash., and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Bradley Richards and High Tide Surfin’ were third for Stacey Richards of Franklin, Tenn.

The final class of the morning, Yearling Colts, of 2007 foal featured 18 teams walking their way towards World Championship acclaim under the watchful eye of Judge Nathan Clark and staff.  When the work was complete, the panel agreed across the board on the top two places and called Devious Don and Chris Richards to the winner’s circle for Lisa Bowman Anderson of Greeneville, Tenn.  Center Of The Storm and Robert Nelms walked into the second position for Bob Neal of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Keith Reed and Ritz’s Diamond Broker were third for Allen Curtis of Hendersonville, Tenn.

As Jack Greene and Shane Shiflet shoot that final victory pass, another session of morning classes was in the record books for the 70th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.  One more session of day classes will be held on Monday morning, after which the floor of Calsonic Arena will be cleared on Tuesday and by Wednesday the Celebration Trade Fair will be going strong with all kinds of items for the equine fancier.  Make plans to come back and check it out.