RENO, Nevada-The fifteenth annual Western States Celebration was once again staged at the Reno Livestock Events Center in the heart of the High Sierra mountain range, with all of it’s attendant fall color and first dusting of snow on the highest peaks. The late October event has become the traditional final show of the west coast season, and draws exhibitors from Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and of course, Nevada.

The three-day event offered 144 classes for every conceivable level of Walking Horse competition, as well as Missouri Fox Trotters. Judging the well-attended show were David Landrum of Franklin, Tenn. and Jerry Woodlee of Shelbyville, Tenn., and Stephanie Howard of Bountiful, Utah.

The usual decimation of the ranks was avoided this year due to the absence of the USDA personnel, marking the first year without their presence. The tangible difference in the mood of the show was a frequent topic of conversation. The DQP’s were still doing their jobs, but in accordance with the written rules and without an agenda-driven bias.

For the first time in many years, the Open Stake Championship had six entries, with all of them working hard for the final winners circle moment. The spectator participation was lively and sustained, and very reminiscent of the show’s early years. With the dust settled and the last judge’s card marked, Generator’s Nat King Cole and trainer, Greg Bryant were called for the tricolor honors to reward their powerful performance. The regal black stallion is the property of Doug and Denia Graham, who were gratified by the response of the “Nat Fans.”

The show ran smoothly and on time, thanks to the management of Mary K. Hartman and her excellent officials: Show Secretary Donna West, Office Clerks Tracy Putnam, and Roseanne Allard, Ring Steward Paul Lukather, Ring Clerk Nina Lovejoy, Paddock Stewards Chuck and Marilyn Herb, Farrier Don Beckman and Photographer Ed Moore. A welcome Tennessee touch was added to the proceedings with the inclusion of Announcer Tommy Williams and Organist Connie Dunlap.

Of particular note was the patriotically themed center ring decorations fashioned once again by Susan Gordon and company. The bunting and banners provided a wonderful backdrop for the winner’s circle photos. Arthur Gordon’s valuable contribution to the show program was also recognized; he literally fills the book with full-page ads from his colleagues in the garment industry. Supportive proceeds from the 2002 show were earmarked for the Children’s Miracle Network and other non-profit organizations of northern Nevada.

The traditional Saturday night Exhibitor’s Party at the Eldorado Hotel was the setting for the surprise nuptials of Oregon trainer Frank White and his lady, Judy Marks, who are popular, longtime members of the Walking Horse community. Linda Steves did her usual fine job of coordinating the party’s silent auction, whose proceeds help to defray the costs of future Reno shows. Special recognition was given to Stephen and Nelgene Bourne, Mike and Marilee Moran and Tim and Tammy Schamber for their generous sponsorship of the Exhibitor’s Party.

The ribbon count totals were once again topped by Russ Thompson Stables, who posted 27 blues and 10 championships. Five talented Gordon Family entries contributed greatly to the totals, including the awesome WC A Specialist, who earned the Amateur Specialty Grand Championship teamed with Susan Gordon; Amateur Three-Year-Old star, Ritz’s Perfect Touch, also with Susan Gordon; Open Three-Year-Old Stallions winner, Simply Thrilling directed by Ray Reis; Park Pleasure Specialty Mares and Geldings victors, Gen’s Lady Fair and Kelly Gordon; and Countdown’s Cordell Walker, who landed a Park Pleasure Amateur Specialty Preliminary and Championship with Kelly Gordon making the good rides, along with divisional Open Preliminary and Championship ties with Jamey Thompson at the controls.

Eva McClure’s pride ownership was justified with the Open Stallions title accepted by her Motown Delight and Russ Thompson, as well as the Open Two-Year-Old Championship scored by WGC It’s Billy The Kid with co-owner Sue Brassy enjoying the tricolor ride after an Amateur Two-Year-Old qualifying performance.

Sylvia Becraft collected the Amateur championship ribbons with her Totally Obsessed, while the Show Horse Junior Exhibitor honors were awarded to Ashley Munson-Child and Ask Not for the DJC, LLC ownership. Kelly Gordon did a fine job of catch-riding to claim the Show Pleasure Amateur Specialty Mares and Geldings title with Sheila Bartlett’s Million Dollar Dream.

Trainer Trish Wooten was a busy lady with a demanding class schedule. She rode WGC Genius’ Dixie Chick to a pair of Lite Shod blues and championships in English and Western disciplines, with proud owner Sheila Mack-Kyle making a welcome return to the show ring for the divisional Amateur honors. Former WC Dragonfire added a pair of English and Western Park Pleasure blues to his resume’, courtesy of trainer Wooten’s direction.

Another Wooten-trained Park Pleasure property, Bad News Gold Hard Cash, stepped up for the Western Open Preliminary and Championship awards with his trainer in the saddle. Susan Gordon made the good ride for the Western Amateur Specialty Preliminary tie, while delighted owner Nadea Watt rode Cash to their first-ever Amateur Specialty championship to close out the season on a tricolor note.

Papa’s Queen Lady and Summer Shamma were in excellent form for three Trail Pleasure blues as well as the Equitation recognition, with Kelly Cook riding the lovely mare to the Novice award for the Shamma and Alkire ownership. Four J Land and Cattle sponsors the Lite Shod Pleasure mount, Silver’s True Design, who was ridden to the Open Four and Under tie by trainer Wooten.

Jamey Thompson was the trainer of record for Clanton and Sandi DuBos’ newly purchased Sudden Decision, who landed a pair of Lite Shod Pleasure blues and the Open championship with the younger Thompson at the helm. Elise Parish was all smiles after her debut ride with She’s Packin’ they netted the Park Pleasure English Novice Horse or Rider honors, thanks to some expert coaching from the Thompson team.

Golden West entries accounted for 19 blues and seven championship ribbons on the tack-room wall. Led by the aforementioned Generator’s Nat King Cole, the team’s padded horses made a strong showing. Legacy Walkers ownership backed age group champions in the form of Open Two-Year-Old Mares and Geldings star, JFK’s Irish Dream with trainer Bryant in the irons; the awesome Three-Year-Old Grand Champion, Oh My Gosh!, who was ridden to the divisional Mares and Geldings honors by Scott Benham to set the stage for the tricolor ride; and WGC Walking On Thin Ice, who prevailed in the Amateur Specialty Four-Year-Old event teamed with Pat Harrington and in the Open Four-Year-Old Mares and Geldings class with A Skywalker for the Amateur Specialty Novice award to complete the winning equine quartet.

Mike and Marilee Moran’s stock contributed generously to the ribbon tally. Money And Power added to his impressive Reno record with the Open Four-Year-Old Stallions Preliminary and Grand Champion ties under trainer Bryant’s direction. Bryant was also in charge of the Show Pleasure Open Preliminary and Championship winner’s circle appearances with Gold’s First Paige. Joining her big sister in the spotlight , Gold’s Society Paige was teamed to the Park Pleasure Open Three-Year-Old award by trainer Manuel Rodriquez. The Moran’s Lite Shod mount, The Big Deal, joined forces with Tom Steves to collect the Pleasure Driving honors.

Steves changed horses and buggies to try his hand at Fine Harness driving with blue ribbon success. Generating This Kiss was impressive in her driving debut for the Tom and Linda Steves ownership.

Mark and Marcy Drummond’s Double Java was in fine Lite-Shod form to claim dual blues and championships for his proud owners. Manuel Rodriquez was responsible for the Open Three-Year-Old ribbons, while Marcy Drummond handled the Specialty winner’s circle appearances. The Hofstee and Hughes property, Chief’s Battle Cry, strolled to the Lite Shod Spotted Saddle Horse Specialty Championship with Tara Beck’s direction.

Single blues were collected by six members of the Golden West line-up: Apocalypse and Scott Benham powered their way to the Gentlemen’s Open Specialty title for owner Joyce Hofstee; Gerre Mann and Bart Starr bested a tough class of 50 and Over competitors; Double Score and Mel Parham were called for the Show Pleasure Novice tie for the Jones and Parham partnership; Doug Graham and Generator’s Bear scored the Show Pleasure Amateur Specialty Stallions title for Doug and Denia Graham; the Charles and Julie Wharton sponsored Santana’s Coin made a Park Pleasure Open Specialty debut with Manuel Rodriquez; Sherri Pollack and Roll With The Tide, likewise debuted to the Amateur Specialty Mares and Geldings award for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch, and the Linda Crowley property, Drop It, who was impressive in a Park Pleasure Two-Year-Old event with trainer Rodriquez in the irons.

The Pollack’s Silver Spur team was out in force to capture eight blues and four championships for their Reno outing. The flashy Our Mr. Hollywood and Patti Pollack dominated the Lite Shod Pleasure division with four preliminary wins and a pair of championship ties in English and Western competition. The sporty little Sugar And Ice had dual blues and a tricolor tally in the Spotted division, also with Patti Pollack doing the honors. She next had a resounding Show Pleasure Amateur Specialty Championship ride aboard the talented Pusharama for her final ribbon.

Sherri Pollack made a go-for-broke ride with Star Of The Year to land the Ladies Open Specialty recognition, while Jimmy Norris and Armed To Push were the Open 15.2 and Under victors. Oregon-based Cheveaux Training Stables displayed eleven blues and a tricolor on the ribbon wall to signify a successful Reno outing. A Beam Come True was on her game to make five winner’s circle trips, including the Halter Grand Championship and the Lite Shod Pro-Am with Sharon Gueck DeFord and Heather Fitzgerald sharing the reins for owner Sanni Mathews.