It was Mother/Son Day In Calsonic Arena


Janet and Jordan Howell Each Ride To The Winner’s Circle On Action Packed Wednesday Morning


By Mark Davis


            Riding in to Shelbyville, it’s easy to tell that it must be Celebration time once again in Shelbyville, Tenn.  For the 69th year, the welcome banners are up, the hotels and campgrounds are full and everyone’s on the edge of their seats waiting for the excitement to begin.

            Once again in 2007, the festivities got underway with a 13 class Wednesday morning schedule featuring entries from the Model, Trail Pleasure, Lite Shod, Park Pleasure and Show Pleasure divisions keeping things interesting for the judges and the die hard crowd.

            Marking the cards for all classes of the 69th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration were Mike Carpenter of Franklin, Tenn., Allen Forman of Thomson, Ga.,  Justin Jenne’ of Lewisburg, Tenn.,  Sam Sorrell of Lexington, Ky., and Ronnie Spears of Tullahoma, Tenn.

            As 9 a.m. quickly rolled around,  official Celebration morning announcer Mark Farrar, Jr., called the traditional first class, the Model Pleasure Walking Mares to the ring as 12 of the 16 with reservations took to the track to show off their good looks for Call Judge Mike Carpenter and his staff.  Taking home that first blue ribbon of the 2007 Celebration was the picture perfect mare Halle Berry and her handler Tommy Howell taking the win back to 4-J Land and Cattle Company of Waynesville, Mo.  This marked the second year that Howell topped the division with a 4-J entry as he was in the 2006 winner’s circle with In Vogue.  Norah Jones and Laurie Toone captured the red streamers for Steve & Kathy Zeis of Douglasville, Ga., and Gen’s If Looks Could Kill and Beverly Lamp were third for Carol Harget of Shelbyville, Tenn.

            Next, it was time to see some horses under saddle as class 2A featured the Owner-Amateur English Trail Pleasure, Adult Riders division.  Twenty-three of the 26 expected hit the track to work as Judge Allen Forman called the gaits.  Riding to the top of the outstanding division was the past World Champion, The Lady At The Ritz and Janet Howell, 2007 champions at the Woodbury, Tenn., Lions Club Horse Show and the International Grand Championships, riding for Montverde Academy and Kasey Kesserling of Montverde, Fla.  This stellar young mare topped this same event in 2006 with Marty Irby in the irons.  Another familiar face rode in for the second spot, Push N’ For Pleasure and Patti Pollack, making their good ride for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Ca. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Playin’ Hooky and owner/exhibitor Liz Gassaway of Wartrace, Tenn., picked up the yellow streamer with a smile. 

            Class 2B brought 25 of the 26 programmed entries into Calsonic Arena for the Owner-Amateur English Trail Pleasure, Adult Riders event to work under the watchful eye of Judge Justin Jenne’ and his cohorts.  Making the World Championship ride in the division was the team of Papa’s Showgirl and Lauren Birmingham, who made waves on the Alabama circuit all year picking up wins at Tuscaloosa, Ala.’s William Way Memorial Show, Lexington, Ala., Arab, Ala., and Decatur, Ala.,  riding for Birmingham, Dubose, Lunan & Way of Vernon, Ala.  Consistent winners on the Middle Tennessee circuit, Doc’s Taking Charge and owner/exhibitor Laura Brandon of Franklin, Tenn. picked up the red streamer.  Headed out west, I’m Clean and Sober and Dennis Pennington were third for Dennis and Becca Pennington of Bluffdale, Utah.

            Keeping the morning edition exciting, the performance horses were up next on the schedule in class 3A, Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Show Pleasure Walking Horses.  Twenty-seven of the 30 expected rode to the track all working hard with hopes of riding right out of the Novice division during this morning’s show and earning that coveted first Celebration blue.  Judge Sam Sorrell served as Call Judge in the division.  Making a HOT performance on a HOT Wednesday morning as they earned that first blue to take home to upper East Tennessee was Jose’s Habanero and Diana Bowers showing for Keith Bowers of Elizabethton, Tenn,  Staying in the Novice division for one more day, riding to second  was the duo of And Justice For All and Barbara Kenehan riding for Jay and Barbara Kenehan of Oconomowac, Wi. & Flat Creek, Tenn.  The Spirit’s In Command and Beck Oakley were third for Patty Rogers of Sweetwater, Tenn.

            Another stellar class was up next in Class 3B, Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Show Pleasure Walking Horses with 26 of the 30 on the entry sheet coming to work for their first moment in The Celebration winner’s circle as Judge Ronnie Spears called the gaits.  The judges and the crowd had Carolina on their minds as announcer Mark Farrar, Jr., called the striking duo of I’m An Evil Rebel and Yvonna Mathis in for the win for John Weihl and Yvonna Mathis of Kings Mountain, N.C.  This win topped off what has already been a great season for this team showing wins at Dallas, N.C.’s Gaston County Horse Show and NCWHLA Walking For The Children Horse Show,  White Pine, Tenn.’s East Tennessee Classic, Asheville, N.C.’s Land-O-The-Sky Horse Show and Tazewell, Va.’s Tazewell County Classic.  Local Favorite and Classic Horse, meaning a horse at least 15 years of age, Editorial Page and owner/exhibitor June Hawkins of Lewisburg, Tenn., made their first Celebration appearance a memorable one as they picked up the red streamer with the approval of the crowd.  The M.V.P. and Becky Woodruff accepted the yellow ribbon for Woody Woodruff of Shelbyville, Tenn.

            Back in the pleasure division,  twelve of the 15 expected made the ring to work in class 4,  Amateur Owned and Trained Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod.  Judge Mike Carpenter served as Call Judge for the division.  Picking up the first unanimous decision of the morning, The Cash Collector, another Classic Horse,  and exhibitor Amanda Dickerson made the strong ride for Sunset Farms of Fuqua Varina, N.C.  The Grand Titan and Jim Laughlin were in the reserve position for 4-J Land & Cattle Company of Waynesville, Mo.  Headed back to the Lone Star State,  Jose’ Delight and owner/exhibitor Lorraine Rosbury of Aubrey, Texas were third.

            The young riders were up next in Class 5, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-17 on Plantation Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings, Lite Shod with eight of the 12 with reservations making the gate call for work for Judge Allen Forman and his panel.  Topping the event and making a trip they’ve made several times before, including picking up the 2006 win in the Youth 11 and Under Lite Shod event, were Double Java and Jaqueline Holtscholt making the victory pass for Mike & Kathy Chiappari of Santa Rosa, Calif.  Headed back Alabama way, Commanding With Pride and Bo Beam accepted the red streamer for Joan Latham of Joppa, Ala.  Our Sonny Boy and Todd Child rounded out the top three for Joni Child of Phoenix, Az.

            It was time to get in the western way for Class 6, Owner-Amateur Riders on Western Park Pleasure Walking Horses (Canter) as six of the 11 programmed entries took to the track as organist Connie Dunlap played her best version of “Don’t Fence Me In”.  Judge Justin Jenne’ called the gaits for the event.  Taking the Celebration blue way out west California way, Dragonfire and owner/exhibitor Jim Heiting of Riverside, Calif.  topped the event with a flawless performance.  Go Boy’s Dark Spirit and Jennifer Pendleton were close behind in the second position for Huckaby and Pendleton of Columbia and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Past Western WGC Armed & Trigger Happy and Jim Nichols were third for Jim and Debbie Nichols of New Market, Tenn.

            Keeping it in a western frame of mind, class 7 brought the Western Plantation Pleasure Lite Shod (Canter) entries to Calsonic Arena with eight of the 11 expected displaying their talents for Judge Sam Sorrell and his staff.  Slamming down on the competition, Bobby Richards and Drop The Hammer made the victory ride for Waldo & Leek, LLC of Cedar Creek, Texas and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Hannah Pulvers and The Wicked Master picked up the reserve ribbon for Sheryl Volkman of Livermore, Calif.  Steel Watch and Howard Hamilton accepted the yellow streamer for Sandra Johnson of Atlanta, Ga.

            Class 8A brought entries from the Trail Pleasure division back to the big oval, for Owner-Amateur English or Western Trail Pleasure, Horses Two and Three Years Old, Adult Riders.   Twenty-two of the 26 on the entry sheets made their way to work on the freshly watered track.  Judge Ronnie Spears served as Call Judge for the event.  Dancing their way to The Celebration winner’s circle was the team of Cha Cha Cha and Jordan Howell, recent winners at Murfreesboro, Tenn.’s International Grand Championships,  riding for Howell & Irby of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  The secret was out as Victoria’s Got A Secret and Dee Dee Sale accepted the red streamer for Darren Gray and Dee Dee Sale of Monteverde, Fla. and Lewisburg, Tenn.  Hitch and Marty Irby were third for Irby Stables and Taylor Morgan of Mobile, Ala. and Shelbyville, Tenn.

            Twenty- Two of the 26 with reservations beat the clock to work in class 8B, Owner-Amateur English or Western Trail Pleasure, Horses Two and Three Years Old, Adult Riders as Judge Mike Carpenter lead the panel in the event.  Riding to the win, with the second unanimous decision of the morning performance, were WC Lion King and Marty Irby riding for Kristin Williams and Marty Irby of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  This win adds to an already impressive resume’ including wins at Shelbyville, Tenn.’s National Trainers Show, Jackson, Miss.’s Mississippi Charity Horse Show and Centerville, Tenn.’s Grinder’s Switch Classic.  Jackie McKnight and I’m Rose Walker walked their way to the reserve position in the division for Sims and Jackie McKnight of Mason, Tenn.  The Master General and Gloria Dixon were third for Randall & Gloria Dixon/Red Eagle Farms of Dacula, Ga.

            The Park Pleasure horses were up next on the schedule for class 9, Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Park Pleasure Walking Mares.  Sixteen of the 23 programmed entries hit the rail to work for Call Judge Allen Forman and his cohorts.  Walking to the top of the division was the big walking Celine Neon and Brenda McAdory riding for Mr. & Mrs. Buster McAdory of Louisville, Miss.  Blazing Cash, another Classic Horse, and Amy Stewart were reserve for  Amy Stewart and Ginger Simpson of Belvidere, Tenn.  Jamie Tucker and Love, Lies & Alibis accepted the yellow streamer for Gloria Wiley, Laura Comley & Jamie Tucker of Macclenny, Fla.

            The final class of the morning performance, class 10, brought the Plantation Pleasure Driving, Lite Shod, 2 or 4 Wheel Vehicle to the Calsonic Arena.  Six of the eight entries expected made the call to drive for that final blue of the morning performance under the watchful eye of Call Judge Justin Jenne’ and his staff.  Bringing home the gold in the final class was the Classic Horse, Aspen Gold and Jeff Laughlin at the whip for 4-J Land & Cattle Company of Waynesville, Mo.  Evil Patty Gray and Jeff Givens picked up the red streamer for Dick & Sally Reilley of Lewisburg,  Tenn.  Another Classic Horse, Fashion’s Ole Style and Noble Stout were third for Noble and Pat Stout of Cookeville, Tenn.

            As Jeff Laughlin and Aspen Gold made that final victory pass, the first session of the 69th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was in the record books.  Make your plans now to attend the morning sessions, which will continue Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday and you won’t want to miss the first evening performance Thursday night, starting as always, promptly at 7 pm.

            The Celebration is truly underway – Don’t miss a moment!