by Sarah Smith

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The Saturday morning performance of the 78th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration got underway right at 9 a.m. with a welcome for announcer Dallas Eubanks. Brain Peery and Shane Shiflet took their places at the organ and camera as Chris Bobo, Nathan Clark, Ray Gilmer, Sam Sorrell and Leigh Stuart, judges for the event waited for the first class to hit the ring. The grounds were buzzing. The Youth Judging Contest was also taking place in Champions Arena.

Walking their way to a unanimous World Championship in the Owner-Amateur Yearlings, of 2015 Foal were I Walk The Walk and Kelly Richards for Bobby Jones and Roger Richards. Sired by Jose’ Jose, I Walk The Walk has celebrated five pre-celebration victories. Reserve honors went to I’m Red Vengeance and Jaron Dotson for the Dotson Brothers. Quick Draw Deal and Rachel Dorris carried the yellow streamer back to Keith Reed and John Dorris.

Two entries competed in the Auxiliary Equitation, Medal Class, Youth Division, Riders 6-11 Years. Leaving the ring as a unanimous World Champion was Corbin Parker from Frankewing, Tenn. Taylor Williams earned the reserve world title.

The ring was full of sparkles as the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-17 Years on Western Country Pleasure Walking Horses worked to impress the judges. It was Peligro Dinero and Maggie Loyd who earned the world title for Phyllis Langley. This was the eighth victory for the team in 2016. Second in the class was I’m King Bee and WhitLei Green. Mighty Jazzy and Claire Hankins earned the third award for Bullock and Hankins.

Yearling Fillies or Geldings, of 2015 Foal were next to perform. Claiming the World Championship was Honey I’m Good and Robert Nelms for Lisa Teel and Charles Gleghorn. A Spittin Image earned the reserve title for Dr. Jana Anderson. The yellow streamer went to I Like Pina Coladas and Lynn Womack.

Multi-titled champion, Bustline carried Claire Vaughn to the winner’s circle for the Vaughn and Hankins partnership. Bustline remains undefeated in 2016. Ashton Claire Brown and Shimmer, a classic horse, are carrying their reserve world title back to Columbia, Tenn. Miss Lady Antebellum and Tori Baxter rounded out the top three for Baxter, Holt, Justice and Stinnett.

Walking their way down victory lane in the Yearling Colts, of 2015 Foal were Cisco Kid Friend Of Mine and Chris Richards for Roger Richards. The newly crowned champion had earlier season wins at Manchester, Liberty Lions Club and Woodbury. Beverly Lamp was at the lead of YS Polamalu for Stephens and Womack. Third went to I Walk The Walk and Robert Nelms for Jones and Richards. I Walk The Walk has already picked up a National Futurity title and a World Championship this week.

Earning a three-peat in the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-17 Years on Western Trail Pleasure Walking Horses was Honey Badger and Lily Catherine Holland. This win was a unanimous choice from the judges. Dark Picture Show carried Alexa Compton to the Reserve World Championship. Third in the class went to the team of Rockin’ At The Ritz and Kaitlyn Rippy.

The Amateur-Owned and Trained English Trail Pleasure Walking Horses, No Professional Training within 90 days World Championship went to Suiza and Allison Thorson. All five judges agreed on the win. Suiza and Thorson has topped this class the past three years. Reserve, also a unanimous decision from the judges went to Jose’s Firecracker and Wayne Westbrooks. Tonic and Maggie Moore rounded out the top three.

Coming all the way from Elbert, Colorado, Anna Rosati rode to the Auxiliary Equitation, Medal Class, Youth Division, Riders 12-14 Years, Canter World Championship. Mia Thomas earned the title of Reserve World Champion. Jayden Jackson picked up the third award.

The Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Trail Pleasure Walking Horses, Optional Tack took their turn in Calsonic Arena. Riding from the line up as unanimous World Champions was Mr. Deeds and Harper Grider for Harold Roberts. Reserve in the class went to X’s And O’s and Jessica Lawwell for Jessica Lawwell and Liz Gassaway. Puttin' On The Jazz and Colton Trimble made the third place ride for Julie Carlson and Colton Trimble.

Defending her title, Kaitlyn Rippy and 21-year-old All Time Favorite Dude captured the Auxiliary Equitation, Medal Class, Senior Division, Riders 15-17 Years, Canter. They are the 2015 Auxiliary Equitation Youth Medal World Grand Champions. Claire Hankins from Paris, Ky., earned the reserve title. Third went to Kallie Attig from Shelbyville, Tn.

Repeating their 2015 World Championship, the reigning World Grand Champions, GiGi’s Majestic and Elysse Bradford made their way down victory lane in the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-17 Years on English Country Pleasure Horses. The team was first on all five judge’s cards. The Ghost ridden by Lake Weaver received reserve acclaim for Brown and Weaver. I’m AK 47 and Summer Compton were third.

Riding to the World Championship in unanimous fashion was Fuego and Mackenzie Morgan for she and Allison Thorson. This was a repeat for the team as they were also the 2015 Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-17 Years on English Trail Pleasure Walking Horses World Champions. Fuego is undefeated this season. Dark Picture Show and Alexa Compton rode to the reserve title for Rick Compton. This was the second reserve title for Dark Picture Show on Saturday morning. Kaitlyn Rippy directed Pushin’ Some Black Jazz to the third award for Shelli Mehaffey.

The Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-17 Years on Lite-Shod Walking Mares or Geldings closed out the morning performance in Calsonic Arena. Making the unanimous blue ribbon ride was Emily Cotten aboard Lil Wayne for Jeff Gillespie. Reserve honors went to Simple Lee Dangerous and Tori Baxter. Third was Dangerous Willy and Mackenzie Morgan.

Tonight is Hat Night at the Celebration. Don’t miss out on the action that will begin at 7 p.m. in the Celebration Oval.