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Monday morning blues!




By Sadie Fowler

There was nothing mundane about Monday morning in the Calsonic Arena as the last slate of day classes provided plenty of entertainment and even a couple surprises, like Rodney Dick turning a few heads as he showed in a pleasure class for his very first time, riding He’s A Dixieland Delight to the finish line first for owner Vickie Penick in the under four park pleasure class. 

Mares and foals, weanlings, equitation riders and plenty more continued the great momentum of the 79th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

“This was his first time showing in flat shod,” laughed Jannie Chapman as she cheered Dick on as he made the victory pass. “He only rode the horse for his first time yesterday, and he was so nervous!”

Just before Dick’s win, where Patrick Thomas was reserve for owner Sherry Roberts with Dosé in his second top two of the morning (he had already won the lite-shod western class with Lucky Daze earlier in the morning), Allison Thorson continued making history by defending her title in the adult equitation world championship. This was her fifth consecutive time to win this class with the same mount, but prior to her career in adult equitation she had more wins in the juvenile category of the same division than she could easily count in an interview post-victory.

Equitation is something Thorson believes makes her a stronger rider and keeps her on her toes, and she credited her instructor Leigh Stuart for pushing her to become a better rider. 

“Equitation takes a lot of discipline because not only are you trying to make the horse look good, but you’re trying to make yourself look good as well — and you’re doing and trying to make it all look seamless,” Thorson said, adding that equitation emphasizes a focus on the details and precision. “You don’t get a break and you’re always thinking, keep your heels down, chin up, hold it together. There’s a lot of sweat involved, literally … I think more riders should do equitation because it keeps you on your toes and makes you a better rider. I’m grateful to Leigh Stuart for not cutting me any slack. She really pushes me.”

A handful of baby classes also showed in front of the panel Monday morning, with the Mare and Foal being one that also captured the hearts of the audience. Beverly Lamp and Lisa Teel worked hard as the winning handlers of this class with Stevie Nix and her foal bringing the title back to Alabama in unanimous fashion. 
“This is a fun class we enjoy because it really shows off the conformation of the breed and gives the mares a chance to shine,” said Lamp post-victory. “It also shows how well the babies can walk at an early age … Often, the stallions get recognition from a breeding standpoint but this class shows that the mares are just as important so we like this class for that reason as well.”

The morning kicked off with the flat shod pleasure driving and served as a good launch for a good morning for the Laughlin group. Jeff Laughlin drove I’m Johnny Dollar to the winning finish before reserve champions Drop Her A Line and Russell Keyser. Jeff’s nephew Jesse Laughlin captured a win in the next class, the youth 12-17 show pleasure mares and geldings, with Bronco Billy.  

Jeff was back in the ring right after that for another good performance when he got reserve with Lil Wayne in the western lite-shod class where Patrick Thomas got “lucky” once again on this morning with class winner Lucky Daze for owner Lisa Shockey. Later in the morning, Jeff had yet another win with Boston Bay in the western park pleasure, pushing Patrick Thomas into the reserve position this time with Rise To Fame for Steve and Pat Wilson. 

A crop of classes featured unanimous decisions and one of those was in the weanling colt class. The colts might not have been happy away from their mamas while showing, but handler Robert Nelms was thrilled to add yet another Celebration win to his growing collection with Exeter for owner Jack Heffington. 
Another momentous unanimous victory came for the skilled Claire Hankins in the youth equitation class when she defended her world grand championship title under the guidance of her mom Jennifer. 

Many exciting victories took place throughout the morning, but perhaps no one was more excited than Thom Meek when he cheered on Chris Payne and A Storm In Dixie to their first Celebration victory pass in one of the largest classes of the morning. Nineteen entries showed in the novice rider and horse English trail pleasure class where Malice and Eve Durant were reserve. 

 

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