By Linda Scrivner

CENTERVILLE, Tenn. - Grinder’s Switch has more claim to fame than Minnie Pearl; its now known for a first class horse show called The Grinder’s Switch Walking Horse Classic. The Centerville Lions Club presented a classy show honoring retired TWHBEA executive director and long time resident, Bob Cherry. These gentlemen did everything exceptionally well with lovely silver cake plates and MASCUP crystal awarded as trophies down to the extremely large crowd in attendance and long food lines waiting for their delicious ribeye sandwiches.

Scott Owens, son-in-law of Bob Cherry and show official, said, “We are extremely pleased with the 130 entries at our first show. Inclement weather hindered participation. We look forward to an improved show another year.”

As I traveled down the Minnie Pearl Memorial Highway through the rolling hills between Centerville and Grinder’s Switch, I began to wonder if there would be a location flat enough to have a horse show. Upon seeing a sign, I turned down a small lane which turned into what could easily have been a logging trail and then we burst onto the Hickman County Agricultural Pavilion. This lovely covered facility with open air sides was decorated with attention to detail in every way. Tables were set eloquently with the silver and ribbons to be awarded.

As the opening ceremonies got underway, everyone could see this was not the normal everyday horse show. After the presentation of the flag by Tommy Martin on Bullet, the invocation by brother David Spencer and the national anthem by Janie McClannahan, the microphone was turned over to Minnie Pearl (Mable McDonald) and Kenneth Roberts. After several interesting anecdotes and tales related by Minnie Pearl, Bob Cherry was honored for his 11 1/2 years service to the TWHBEA as well as the many other things he has done in his lifetime. Cherry’s term was longer than anyone else’s in the association and during his term registration of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed tripled.

Judge Jamie Hankins capably marked the cards for the 24 classes while announcer Mark Farrar and organist Charles Ritchie entertained the crowd. Jack Greene snapped photographs of winners and contestants throughout the evening.

In addition to NHSC DQPs Charles Thomas and John Wilson and Director Lonnie Messick, there were four USDA officials attending to the inspection of all entries at the show. Those in attendance were VMOs Dr. Lynn Bourgeois, Dr. Glenna S. McFadden, Dr. Cathy Hovancsak and Investigator Dale Boyles.

The climax of the evening was the Aged Stallions and Geldings MASCUP Stake. Five entries arrived one at a time to entertain the very vocal crowd. At the completion of the class, the roses were awarded to Ronnie Spears aboard the roan stallion Mr. Pushbutton. Swoosh and Link Webb accepted the red streamer and I’m A 5 Star General and Jimmy McConnell exited with the yellow ribbon.

Jimmy McConnell of Formac Stables led the blue ribbon tally with four, followed by Allan Callaway Stables returning home with a trio of blues. Winning dual blues were Rollie Beard, Joe Fleming Stables, Nathan Mills and Bobby Richards of The Colt Center. Winning single blues were Howard Atkinson, Knox Blackburn Stables, Derickson Training Facility, Russ Keyser, Wink Groover, Ronnie Spears Stables and Joel Weaver of Rising Star Ranch.

McConnell’s first blue came in the seven-entry Three-Year-Old MASCUP Stallions class aboard Dragonfly. Dragonfly earned a blue earlier this season at the Gulf Coast Charity and has had a considerable following since. Might Brew and Link Webb earned the second position in this exciting class.

McConnell directed another Bob and Mary Medina owned competitor, The Ivy League, to the top of the six-entry Two-Year-Old MASCUP Stallions class. Joe Cotten and Peyton Manning were chosen to exit with the red streamer.

Altima was the next Formac entry to carry McConnell to a Grinder’s Switch blue. They captured the title in the seven-entry Three-Year-Old Mares and Geldings class while reserve went to the team of Queen Of The Silver Dollar and Charlie Green.

McConnell’s fourth blue of the evening came with Major Gee Whiz in the Four-Year-Old Stallions and Geldings class. The reserve award went to I’m Mr. Threat and Winky Groover.

Callaway Stables’ three blues were earned by their young stock also. Their first blue came with George Ann Pratt’s debut performance aboard My First Dollar in the Three-Year-Old Amateur Mares and Geldings. Claiming reserve was Honey Of A Twist and Charles Johnston.

Following in dad’s footsteps in the very next class came John Allan Callaway. Glamorous carried Callaway down victory lane in the eight-entry Two-Year-Old Mares and Geldings class. Winky Groover was the reserve recipient aboard Miss Dumas Ebony.

Allan Callaway captured the barn’s third blue in the Four-Year-Old And Over Mares and Geldings with Cash’s Luck Be A Lady.

Rollie Beard laid claim to two blues at Grinder’s Switch. First June Hawkins and Editorial Paige were the chosen team in the Open Show Pleasure Specialty. Tony Mercer and Counting The Dollars claimed the reserve position .

Beard and Kodachrome rose to the top of the competitive 15.2 and Under class to win the title while Joe Cotten and O.M.G. won reserve.

Slayden Fleming claimed the first of two blues for Joe Fleming Stables with Generator’s Collect Call in the Four-Year-Old Amateur Specialty. Judy Burns directed Pusher’s High On Gen to the reserve spot.

The striking gray Push Me Bold and Donald Stephens are always a popular team. The crowd expressed their approval of their charismatic show, which many said was their best to date. Judge Hankins selected him as the champion for the seven-entry Amateur Specialty class. Double Platinum and Heather Walling picked up the reserve ribbon with a flawless performance.

Nathan Mills had a great evening with his well-trained halter horses. He claimed the Weanling division with Rock Of Ages. Tropicana Grand and Bobby Richards received the nod for reserve.

Encore’s Magic Lady and Nathan Mills added another Yearling Filly blue to their lengthy resume followed by Mask Kentucky Girl and Bobby Richards claiming reserve.

The largest class of the evening was the 13-entry Country Pleasure class. Russ Keyser trained the winner of this class, Obsessed With Silver, shown by Michele Mercier. In the number two spot were Pride’s Final Mark and Charles Howard.

Everyone loves to see the young riders on their big horses in the 11 and Under classes. Total Control and Jordan Kidd from Derickson Training Facility claimed the blue while Figgy Puddin and Alex Blackburn marched to reserve.

The Walking Pony was won by Special Alert and Catherine Simpson under the guidance of Joel Weaver. Reserve was Threat Of Dark Spirit and Chantelle Brummell from Blackburn Stables.

Wink and Nancy Groover came from Longview, Texas, to honor Bob Cherry and to show their Two-Year-Old Amateur horse Tijuana Tex. Nancy directed him down victory lane. Kathy Whittenburg claimed reserve aboard Pusher’s Red Storm Risin.

Chantelle Brummell catch rode Watch For That Push to the top of the Three-Year-Old Amateur Stallions under Knox Blackburn Stables.

Silver’s Longshot and Howard Atkinson claimed the win in the Park Pleasure Specialty once again. Grandy’s Big Time and Chris Harper were the reserve team.

This show was definitely one to “wade through the brush for”. The first Grinder’s Switch show was one to remember with lots of silver and hard work put forth. Next year there’s no telling what you’ll see at the Grinder’s Switch Walking Horse Classic.