By Mark McGee | Photos by Shane Shiflet 

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The skies were a threatening dark gray, but that didn’t deter the riders and horses in the 13 classes Sunday night in “The Big Oval” at the 84th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. Right on time at 7 p.m. Ronnie Spears and flag horse White Diamond Dollar entered the ring. Dan Reed from New Vision Baptist Church gave the invocation, while Brittany McGilliard, from Unionville, Tennessee, presented a wonderful performance of the National Anthem. Faculty, staff and students from Harris Middle School were special guests of the Celebration.

Khloe McSwain and The Dixie Label started off the night with a unanimous blue ribbon ride in the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-14 Years on Walking Mares class. McSwain, from Alpharetta, Georgia, is the owner of The Dixie Label, sired by The Dixie Lineman. They have two blues in three shows in 2022. Extra Special Jose and co-owner Emma Wright were reserve for co-owners Sammy and Gayle Cagle. A Superbowl MVP placed third with BiBi Beasley aboard for owner Beth Beasley. Ten of 15 original entries answered the gate call from ring announcer Mark Farrar. Paul Robbins was the call judge. 

For the third year in a row A Touche’ and owner-rider Jannie Chapman of Memphis, Tennessee, carried home top honors in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Performance Walking Stallions  class. A Touche’, sired by Jose’ Jose’, is undefeated in six classes this year. Paroled From Hardtime and owner-rider Sister Milligan won a red ribbon. Drop A Line took home a yellow ribbon with Jordan Dempsey riding for Charles Gleghorn. The call judge was Sam Sorrell as seven of 10 expected entries competed.

It’s The Medalist and Eli Cunningham are no longer Celebration novices with the win in the Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings class for co-owners Brittney Cunningham and Melissa Wilson. It was the second unanimous selection of the night by the five-judge panel. Sired by The Titleist, It’s The Medalist has five blues in nine classes this show season including a third at this year’s Celebration. I’m On Good Behavior and rider Mary Beech Alias were second for owner Margaret Ann Alias, while Good Time BKT and owner-rider Boston Kate Tillman tied third. Eighteen entries were listed in the program with 10 in the ring. Amy Trimble was the call judge. 

Jamie Bradshaw was the call judge as nine of 20 programmed entries vied for top honors in the Elite Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings class. Bye Felicia said hello to a win in the class for the second year in a row for owner-rider Kathy Lewis from Belvidere, Tennessee. It was the first blue in five classes this year for Bye Felicia, sired by Arm’s Deal For Real M. Charlie’s Perfect Angel placed second for owner-rider Tara Rhoades. Gen’s Not Kid’N and owner-rider Sister Milligan walked out with third place.

Eight young trainers of the 21 listed in the program participated in the Young Trainers 35 Years & Under on Walking Mares or Geldings class. John Puckett served as the call judge. My Honey Bee was buzzing on the way to a blue ribbon ride by Josh Wright for owner Maise McSwain Bauer from Alpharetta, Georgia. Sired by Honors, My Honey Bee has three top finishes in four classes in 2022. She’s My Shady Lady tied second with Derek Monahan in the irons for owner Carolyn Evans. Beiga Cheval and Kayla Baucom placed third for co-owners Tommy McGee and Carol Dickerson.

Escapee and owner-rider Heidi Mott from Maryville, Tennessee, escaped their Celebration novice designation in the Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Show Pleasure Walking Horses class. Sired by Out On Parole, Escapee has shown in eight classes this season with five blues, three in its last three outing. All American Silver and Tim Stevens were reserve for The Tim Stevens Family, while Evan William’s Black Label and owner-rider Jacob West received a yellow ribbon. Eighteen of 30 programmed entries answered the gate call, the largest class of the night. Paul Robbins called the class.

Skywalk’s Threat and owner-rider Alex Luttrell from Alvaton, Kentucky, earned top honors in the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 15-17 Years on Walking Ponies class. Skywalk’s Threat, sired by Sky Walk, is undefeated in five classes in 2022 and unbeaten in 15 consecutive classes dating back to 2020 including the Owner-Amateur Youth Ponies World Grand Championship in 2021 and the Owner-Amateur Walking Ponies World Grand Championship with Julia Glidewell aboard in 2020. Time To Tease placed reserve with Jessica Lawwell in the saddle for co-owners Horses To Go LLC and Lawwell. Versace’s Dollar was third with K.J. Compton riding for Rick Compton. Sam Sorrell called the class with nine entries competing, one more than listed in the program. 

Cousin Bob and owner-rider Dee Broom from Nashville, Tennessee, made the winning ride in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions class. Cousin Bob, sired by Jazz King, has four blues in five classes this year. Owner-rider Sarah Coffee Burks was second with The Iron Door, while Good Samaritan received the yellow ribbon with co-owner Pam Russell on board for co-owner Larry Russell. Nine of 29 entries entered the ring prompting announcer Mark Farrar to explain that many horses are entered in multiple classes. Amy Trimble was the call judge. 

Emily Cortner, co-owner from Winchester, Tennessee, and Shameless SF are novices no longer with a blue ribbon performance in the Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Western Trail Pleasure Walking Horses class for co-owner Jordan Howell of Murfreesboro. Shameless SF, sired by Jose’ Jose’, has five blues in 11 classes in 2022. Into The Badlands was second with owner-rider Chad Spencer, while Nacho Business tied third with co-owner Shana Hughes riding for co-owners Phyllis Langley and Jason Hughes. Seventeen of 23 original entries competed for call judge Jamie Bradshaw. 

John Puckett called the Elite Owner-Amateur Gentlemen Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings class. Nine of 15 programmed entries were in the ring. Uptight Jose and co-owner and rider Bruce MacDonald rode into the winner’s circle in the class for the second year in a row. Robin MacDonald of Shelbyville, Tennessee, is the co-owner. Sired by Jose’s Citation, it was the second blue in four shows this year for Uptight Jose who also has world championships in the Elite Ladies Owner-Amateur Mares & Geldings class in 2020 and the Owner-Amateur Stallions class, both with Robin riding. A Home Run By Ted and owner-rider Greg Kiser tied second, while Miss Stone’s Cash and co-owner Noel Botsch carried home a yellow ribbon for co-owner Lynda Botsch. 

A Dixie Lady and Cassi Slagle received a crowd-pleasing first place tie for owner CasMol Farms from Cookeville, Tennessee, in Division A of the Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings class. The Dixie Lineman sired A Dixie Lady, who has two blues in four classes this show season. Polly Gray was ridden to a red ribbon by Trista Caudill for owner Tim Brown. Harlan Darlin’ and Daila Smith-Harr placed third for owner Renee Smith. Eleven of 29 entries answered the gate call. Paul Robbins called the class. 

Design By Dixie and owner-rider Gail Walling from Wartrace, Tennessee, rode to the win in Division B of the Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings. Sired by Walling’s The Dixie Lineman, Design By Dixie is unbeaten in four classes in 2022. Conover and co-owner Jennifer Bingham tied second for co-owner Martin Cox. Wicked Gin earned a yellow ribbon for owner-rider Jayden Jackson. Thirteen of 29 entries showed for the class where Sam Sorrell called the class.

Eight of 11 entries entered the ring to an enthusiastic crowd in the Four-Year-Old Walking Stallions, Canter class, one of the most talked about classes for this year. Amy Trimble called the class. Mr. True Blue lived up to his name with a top ride by R.M. Kellett for The Jacobs Family of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. It was the first world championship for R.M. Kellett at the Celebration. Sired by I Am Jose,’ Mr. True Blue has four blues in five classes, with four wins in his last four appearances. Switchblade FSS was reserve with Jimmy McConnell in the saddle for LaRue, Ann and Bart McWaters. Kobe 24 and rider Chris Helton closed out the top three for owner Jimbo Conner.