We're Not In Kansas Anymore

Storms rip through Celebration grounds

By Melissa R. Stevens

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - The grandstands at Celebration Arena were dotted with ponchos and wet spectators Friday night. The severe thunderstorm that moved through the area may have dampened the people, but it didn't dampen their spirits. Dedicated walking horse fans rode out the storm, dried off their seats and cheered loudly for their favorites.

Paid attendance for tonight's event was 23,362, with 13,489 actually present.

For the first time in Celebration history, the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Geldings class for riders 11 years and under was split into three divisions. The future is definitely looking bright for the walking horse industry with such a large and talented group of up and coming youngsters. Tyler Baucom and Pusher's Clown were called to make the first victory pass of the evening for Baucom, Warner & Blake of Monroe, Tenn., and Raleigh, N.C. Jerry McGuire and and Chelsea Cook were called for reserve for Chelsea and Baylee Cook of Lewisburg, Tenn. The third place ribbon in Section A of the class was given to the classic horse This Is It ridden by Lindsey Landrum for Bill and Betty Landrum of Griffin, Ga. Landrum is quite the talented youngster. Not only is she competing at the Celebration, but she is also competing at the World's Grand Championship Horse Show in Louisville, Ky. The spunky little rider placed first in two classes at Louisville today, the Eight-Year-Old Saddle Seat Equitation class and the Eight-Year-Old Walk-Trot Equitation Championship.

The first unanimous tie came in Section B of the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Geldings class. The first place choice out of 19 entries by unanimous vote was Flashy Cash and Rachel Hyneman for Hy Steppin' Farms of Memphis, Tenn. Second place went to You Got It and owner exhibitor Elizabeth Lawrence of Bell Buckle, Tenn. Design's Masterpiece and Keely Sale were chosen for the third place tie for McJunkin Farm of Richardson, Texas. Paul Watlington was the call judge for the class.

Section C brought 25 more great young riders to the ring. Laura Brandon was selected as the call judge. With the second unanimous tie of the evening, the classic horse Eb's Cloud Nine and Alex Blackburn were called to make the victory pass for Clayton & Blackburn of Breman, Ga., and Franklin, Tenn. Treeah Majors and Eb's Final Notice were reserve for Teera Walker of McMinnville, Tenn. The talented team was third in the class last year. The Summit and Alex Way finished third in the class this year for Carolyn Rutner and Jack Way of Northport, Ala., and Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Twenty-nine Two-Year-Old Walking Gelding entries made their way through the gate. Mike Carpenter was the call judge. Joe Cotten and FDR were selected unanimously to wear the blue ribbon in this class for Irby Stables of Mobile, Ala., and Shelbyville, Tenn. Edition's Power Pusher was ridden to the reserve honors by Joel Weaver for Louise George of Belvidere, Tenn. Ronal Young and Catin Around received the third place ribbon for Jimmy and Carol Lackey of Forest, Miss.

Pusher's Beaming Pride and Howard Hamilton were called for first place honors above 17 other riders in the Lite-Shod Plantation Pleasure class for riders 18 and over. Debbie and Jim Nichols of New Market, Tenn., own this winning entry. Jose Quervo Gold and Doug Barnes took the reserve spot for Lawrence & Hutto of Thomasville, Ga. Third in the class went to Drop The Hammer and Connie Waldo for R.D. and Connie Waldo of Shelbyville, Tenn.

Just as the Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders on Novice Walking Mares and Geldings class for riders 17 and under began to enter the gate, a severe thunderstorm moved into the area pounding the arena with high winds and blinding rain. All of the entries were ushered out of the ring as spectators scrambled to find a dry spot to wait out the storm. The class was delayed for exactly one hour due to the storm. The riders were finally allowed to re-enter the ring, but the storm was not entirely over with lightening illuminating the night sky and thunder that sounded somewhat like an earthquake. Fourteen of the 33 brave entries were called for an additional workout. Ali Ali and Jeren Guthrie rode their way right out of the novice class as their number was called for the blue. David Pruett and Jeren Guthrie of Old Hickory and Murfreesboro, Tenn., own this winning entry. Final's Pusher and Crystal Letterman took the reserve honors for the Farrell Hughes family of Burnsville, N.C. Total Control and Jordan Kidd finished third in the class for Ron Kidd of Bethel, Ohio, and Shelbyville, Tenn.

Thirteen of the 20 entries listed in the program made the gate call for Section A of the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Ponies, 60" and Under class for riders 14 and under. Paul Watlington was the call judge for the class. Final Keeper ridden by Morgan LeGate received the first place award for the Gary LeGate Family of Orlando, Fla., and Knoxville, Tenn. Final Keeper and Morgan LeGate have won this class two years in a row and have thus earned the right to retire all three of the memorial challenge trophies for this class. Late Night Jazz and owner/exhibitor Jacob Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn., proudly took the reserve honors. Eb's Magic Motion and owner/exhibitor Madison Holloway of Davidson, N.C., finished with the third place ribbon.

In Section B of the owner-Amateur Youth Riders on Walking Ponies, 60" and under class for riders age 14 and under, 16 of the 20 entries listed on the program chose to show. Laura Brandon was the call judge. Taking the top spot in this section was Dumas ridden by Andy Adkins for Carlton & Adkins of Corinth, Miss., and Etheridge, Tenn. Gads O' Cash and Clay Sanderson rode out with the red streamer for Sanderson & Cash of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., and Pulaski, Tenn. Ginger By Design and Bonnie Bowman were awarded the third place tie for the Troy York family of Gainesboro, Tenn.

Twenty-eight entries packed the ring in the Elite Owner-Amateur Gentlemen Riders on Walking Mares and Geldings class.Thirteen entries were asked to remain for additional rail work. Major Splash and Keith Baker sloshed their way through the puddles to take the first place tie in the class for the Keith Baker family of Columbia, Tenn. Sweetie Sky and James Vernon took the reserve spot for Vernon and Clayton of Booneville, Miss., and Bremen, Ga. Bound And Determined was ridden to the third place tie by Ed Breedlove for Melissa Breedlove of Buford, Ga.

Twelve Four-Year-Old Walking Gelding entries took to the ring. Gene Carswell was the call judge. Sanman and Link Webb took the blue for Larry Russell of Pontotoc, Miss. They Call Me Sir and Jimmy McConnell were called for the reserve honors for Windsong Farm in Collierville, Tenn. An American Outlaw with Mike Hilley up for Maxwell & Derickson of Longview, Texas and Wartrace, Tenn., proudly accepted the third place award.

Miracle At The Ritz and Sandra Johnson received across the board votes for first above 16 other entries in the Owner-Amateur Walking Mares class for lady riders. Pusher's Solid Design and Kelly Garrett rode to the reserve spot for Floyd Sherman of Dallas, Texas. The third place tie in the class went Lock & Load and Stacy Blackburn for Longview Farms of Union City, Tenn.

Only 13 of the 35 entries listed in the program chose to compete for the blue in the Park Pleasure class for amateur riders ages 18 and over. Paul Watlington was selected as the call judge. For the second year in a row, Fully Armed and Clint Dixon made the victory pass for Randall and Gloria Dixon of Red Eagle Farms of Dacula, Ga. Second in the class went to Gen's Gold Coin Lady and Nathan Clark for Clark Farms in Arab. Ala. Threat's Black Bum and owner/exhibitor Kenny Browning of Sylacauga, Ala., finished in the third place spot.

The Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions qualifier was split into three divisions to accommodate the large number of entries. Even with the split numbers, the classes were filled to capacity. Twenty-four entries answered the gate call for Section A of the class. Laura Brandon was the call judge for the class. After a few trips around the ring, 16 entries were asked to remain for an additional workout. Just as Link Webb and A Strong Dollar were announced the winners, the lights went out in the stadium. Curtice McCloy of Norman, Okla., owns the winning entry. Dragonfly and Jimmy McConnell were called out as reserve to a thunderous round of applause from the crowd. Mary Medina of Skillman, N.J., is the proud owner of Dragonfly. Real Bad Score, ridden by Knox Blackburn for David and Erin Graf of South Portsmouth, Ky., rounded out the top three.

In Section B of the Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions class, 21 entries took to the ring to compete for the blue and a chance to show back in the championship. Crowd favorite, Ted Williams, ridden by Joe Cotten for Dr. and Mrs. Jim Green of Meridian, Miss., was pronounced the winner retiring the memorial trophies. Ted Williams has garnered wins at Bethesda and Jackson, Miss., and was the Two-Year-Old World Grand Champion in 2002. Knox Blackburn and Push Too's Cowboy were reserve for Gene Ramsey of New Madrid, Mo. Doc Ty and Jimmy McConnell wore the yellow streamer from the ring for Mr. and Mrs. E.B. Tanner of Union City, Tenn.

Section C of the Three-Year-Old Stallions qualifier brought 26 more entries to the ring for a shot at a spot in the championship competition. Gene Carswell was the call judge for the class. A timeout was called to search for a lost action device. When the action resumed, 15 entries were called for an additional work out. The unanimous choice of the judges for first in Section C was NYPD, ridden by Tim Gray for Gus King of Arab, Ala. Ritz's Diamond Joe and Jamie Bradshaw were reserve for Randall and Martha Ferguson of Union Grove, Ala. Third place went to Jimmy McConnell aboard Contaminated. Paul and Vickie Garland of Murray, Ky., are the proud owners.

In the last class of the evening, 25 Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallion made their way through the gate. Jamie Hankins was the call judge. Fourteen entries were asked to perform an additional workout. A Specialist and Susan Gordan for Stonegait Farms of Orange, Calif., were the unanimous choice of the judges for the first place tie. Cut Above All with Deborah Perry up for David Perry of Gaffney, S.C., rode to the reserve tie. I'm Busted and Charles Wharton finished third in the class for Poplar Creek Farm, LLC of Winchester, Tenn.

Those die hard fans who endured the wind and rain and the extremely late hour were treated to a wonderful showing of some of the industry's finest. From the young to the young at heart, the Celebration proves to give it's fans nothing but the best in every class.