by Linda Scrivner


HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. – The Mississippi Walking Horse Association (MWHA) held its annual awards banquet at the beautiful Kirkwood National Golf Club House in Holly Springs, Miss. There were a large number of people in attendance who enjoyed the banquet and the live entertainment afterward.

Joy Smith, the 2007 and 2008 president, welcomed everyone to the banquet. She stated, “These awards are about recognition and giving you a pat on your back. It takes involvement to keep our industry going. It’s not just a habit, it’s a way of life!” Leon Martin gave the invocation and the crowd was then treated to a delicious buffet.

Smith introduced the 2008 officers: Vice President Harlan Hatcher, Secretary-Treasurer Susan Frank and board of directors Ron Nichols, Landon Phillips, Angie Etheredge, Mandy Baham Heard and Gerald Poole.

Next was the induction of Wayne Gregg into the MWHA Hall of Fame. Dane Callihan read a biography to the crowd.  This was followed by Scott Grittith announcing the high point award winners, overall high point winners and the member voted on awards.

Scott Griffith brought tears to the eyes of those present when he read about the Horse Show Person of the Year. “This year’s Horse Show Person is a very special person and we’ve got a special gift to recognize her. Miss Lizzie Umberger was voted by the members of this association to receive this honor this year. Lizzie’s gift is a sterling charm bracelet with a heart charm that represents her beautiful heart and how much we all love her; another charm that is a combination of a horse shoe, four leaf clover and wishbone represents luck. We all feel very lucky to have Lizzie in our lives and we hope this charm will bring her luck. The third, and most important charm on this bracelet is a small magnolia blossom. For those of you who do not know, we here in Mississippi have people that display grace and beauty while facing adversity. These people are referred to as steel magnolias because they possess the beauty and grace of the sweet magnolia blossom, but are also strong as steel when it comes to facing the challenges that life sometimes bring. This charm is to remind Lizzie that she is, in fact, a steel magnolia. She has displayed an amazing inner strength, as well as beauty and grace, as she faces treatment for leukemia.”

Following the awards, everyone went home in excellent spirits carrying their beautiful pewter trophies and dreams of more in 2008. With show season starting on March 7 in Laurel, Miss., the members of MWHA are eager to get into the show ring for the 2008 season.