By Mark McGee

There was something for everyone. Classes for novice, youth and seniors, capped by three intensely competitive classes of Three-Year-Old Stallions made for a competitive Friday night in “the big oval” at the 84th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

It was another perfect evening with a beautiful red sky sunset above and talented horses and riders basking in the glow. Hall of Fame trainer Ronnie Spears rode the flag horse White Diamond Dollar once again presenting the colors. Larry Crismon of Bright temple Church of God in Christ offered the invocation. Stephanie Nash, from Chapel Hill, Tennessee, sang a strong rendition of the National Anthem. 

Students, teachers and staff from Thomas Magnet and Southside schools were special guests.

It was a lovely start for the 16-class schedule with six of seven program entries answering the gate call from announcer Mark Farrar for the Owner-Amateur Lady Drivers Fine Harness class. Five would remain in the class for final judging with Jamie Bradshaw serving as the call judge. Lt. Horatio Caine was guided to a unanimous blue ribbon win with Alex Blackburn driving for mom Stacy Blackburn from Franklin, Tennessee. Last year Alex drove Lt. Horatio Caine, sired by George Washington Dollar, to first in Division B of the class. My Tequila Sunrise was reserve for owner-driver Ann Marie Couch, while The Sky King, a classic horse, flew to a third-place ribbon with co-owner and driver Jane Stiles for co-owner Ray Stiles.

Dollar’s Silver Collector, a classic horse, added more silver with a unanimous win in the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders, 6-11 Years, on Walking Geldings class. Graci Jean Ware was aboard for Tom Ware of Cynthiana, Kentucky. Sired by Generator’s Silver Dollar, this was the seventh blue in seven classes in 2022 and the 18th consecutive blue ribbon for Dollar’s Silver Collector. He had earned 11 wins in 11 classes in 2021.The Megalodon and Gryffin Sexton rode away with a red ribbon for co-owners Tim Brown and Joe Sexton. It’s The Medalist and Eli Cunningham tied third for co-owners Brittney Cunningham and Melissa Wilson. John Puckett was the call judge in the class which featured seven of the 11 programmed entries taking to the ring. 

I Walk The Walk and co-owner Carol Missildine did just that for top honors in the Owner-Amateur Riders on English Park Pleasure Walking Horses class for the second year in a row. Co-owned by Denny Russell of Smithfield, North Carolina, I Walk The Walk is sired by Jose’s Jose’. The pair are two-for-two in blues this show season and I Walk The Walk has 21 consecutive blues dating back to 2018. Skydoctor, a classic horse, had the prescription for a second place for owner-rider Darrell Collins. Third was Armed But Kid’N and owner-rider Sister Milligan. Five of the 11 original entries competed with Paul Robbins serving as call judge. 

Sam Sorrell served as the call judge for the Walking Mares or Geldings, 15.2 & Under class. Tyler Baucom and I Am Bold And Spicy Jose’ claimed first for owner Connie Hess of Harrisonburg, Virginia. In a fitting win, Tyler also won the memorial trophy in the class donated by Rhonda Baucom in honor of his father, Chad. It was the third win in four classes in 2022 for I Am Bold And Spicy Jose’, who is sired by I Am Jose’. Six of 17 entries made the gate call. A Major Honor and Gary Edwards were the second tie for Chuck and Sharon Tolhurst, while Jimmy McConnell rode Charlie’s Phantom to third for owner Peggy Mervine.

The Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, Riders 70 Years and Over class featured 13 of the 29 original entries. Owner-rider Bob Adcock from Lititz, Pennsylvania, and A King Thing were crowned the class winners. It was the fourth blue in seven classes for A King Thing, sired by Jazz King, in 2022. I’m The Alamo placed second with co-owner Lynn Hickok on board for co-owners Ridgemont Farms and Barbara Corbett. The Comanche rode away with a yellow ribbon with co-owner Pam Russell riding for co-owner Larry Russell. Amy Trimble served as the call judge.

Owner-rider Lisa McMahan and I’m Lovin’ It lost their novice Celebration status with the win in Division A of the Owner-Amateur Novice Lady Riders on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings class. McMahan, from Wartrace, Tennessee, has been showing at The Celebration for more than 20 years. I’m Lovin’ It, sired by Gen’s Black Gin, finished first for the third time in six shows in 2022. The second award went to The Jackalope with Tyra Brown aboard for Tim Brown. My Reverie tied third with co-owner Judith Dial riding for co-owner Dr. John Dial. Twelve of the 18 programmed entries were in the class where Jamie Bradshaw was the call judge.

After a brief delay, the Owner-Amateur Novice Lady Riders on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings, Division B, got underway with 13 of 18 scheduled entries making the show ring. John Puckett was the call judge. Also losing their Celebration novice status were Lady Elle and owner-rider Kelly Manis, who has been riding in The Celebration for 25 years. Reserve was I’m Deuce, a classic horse, with co-owner Marla Lovett on board for co-owner Rick Lovett. Touchlined claimed third for owner-rider Carol Shelton. 

Do Right, the class winner in 2020 and 2019 with owner Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tennessee, was back in the winner’s circle with Dr. Jim Baum in the irons as the unanimous selection in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Performance Walking Mares or Geldings class. Do Right, sired by Lined With Cash, has two blues in three shows this year. I Am Uno was reserve with Jake Jacobs riding for The Jacobs Family. Hello Handsome placed third with Robert Deutsch in the irons for Rushing and Deutsch. Eighteen of 28 programmed entries were in the class for call judge Paul Robbins and his co-horts.

Big Time Bandit repeated his 2021 performance in the Western Lite-Shod Walking Horses class with Patrick Thomas in the saddle for owner Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tennessee; her second win of the night as an owner. Big Time Bandit also has world champions with Lisa in 2019 and 2018 in other classes. Sired by The Silver Bandit, he has been a winner in five of six class in 2022. Miss Dixie Flyer and Jeff Laughlin rode to reserve for co-owners Donna Byard and Jackson Laughlin. Banks, ridden by Amber Zahnd, walked away with a third-place ribbon for owner Shannon Rennie. Four of the six scheduled entries competed. Sam Sorrell was the call judge.

I Am March Madness looked good in August with Casey Wright taking top honors for owners Billy and Debbie Woods from Lexington, Tennessee, in Division A of the Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions class. It was their third time to own a winning horse in the class and they retired The Donald Paschal Memorial Challenge Trophy. I Am March Madness, sired by I Am Jose’, has three blues in five classes this show season. Finally, I Am and Jimmy McConnell tied second for co-owners Thomas and Grant. Broadway Honors and Tyler Baucom placed third for owners Keith and Lorraine Rosbury. The class also included Futurity nominated three-year-old performance stallions. Eleven of 16 programmed entries answered the gate call. Amy Trimble was the call judge.

Jimmy McConnell was in the irons as Jackie Chan earned top honors in Division B of the Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions class for owners Bill and Karen Bean from Tomball, Texas. Sired by the Beans’ He’s Slim Shady, Jackie Chan earned his first blue in three shows in 2022. He’s Mr. Maverick was ridden to reserve by Bill Callaway for co-owners Gayle Holcomb and Nick Masters. Honor Of The Ritz was third with Dan Waddell aboard for owner Chavigny Beasley. Call judge Jamie Bradshaw put 10 of the 18 program entries through the gaits. Also included were Futurity nominated three-year-old performance stallions. Jackie Chan was Futurity nominated and also received a blue ribbon from the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association. 

Cavender and Knox Blackburn rode to the blue in Division C of the Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions class for Bruce and Robin MacDonald from Shelbyville, Tennessee. Cavender, sired by Honors, has four straight blues in five classes this year. He’s Hot and Tanner Burks won a red ribbon for owner Sister Milligan. I Am The Gentleman and Michael Wright tied third for owners Billy and Debbie Woods. Futurity nominated three-year-old performance stallions were also included. A total of 11 of the 17 programmed entries competed in the class. John Puckett was the call judge. 

Once, twice, three times a winner. Such was the case for Epic and Meghan Hammond who won the Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Show Pleasure Walking Horses class for the third year in a row for owner Shamrock Farms from Shelbyville, Tennessee. The decision of the judges was unanimous. Epic, sired by All American Cash, is four-for-four in blues in 2022 and has won 10 consecutive top awards since 2021. I’m Moonlighting and owner-rider Stephanie Elliott were reserve. The Night Crawler and co-owner Sister Milligan placed third for co-owner Jason Joseph. Nine of 16 entries showed in the class. Paul Robbins was designated the call judge. 
Sam Sorrell called the gaits for the Owner-Amateur Novice Lady Riders on Novice Walking Stallions class.Losing the novice Celebration label were Ozark and April Jeffers who was riding for owner Brian Jeffers from Fall Branch, Tennessee. Sired by He’s Slim Shady, it was the fourth top finish in eight shows this year for Ozark. An Apocalypse and owner-rider Tina Moss carried home a red ribbon. Church and owner-rider Michelle Glidewell placed third. Fourteen of 20 scheduled entries answered the gate call. 

Our Girl Charlie and Tyler Baucom claimed top honors in the Four-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings, Canter class for owner Kaitlyn Peeler of Laurinburg, North Carolina. Sired by Walk Time Charlie, it was the fourth blue in seven classes in 2022 for Our Girl Charlie. Dim The Lights walked away with reserve with Knox Blackburn riding for owners Rod and Sadie Parsons. Pappy Time and Sam Martin claimed the yellow ribbon for owners Rick and Marla Lovett. Amy Trimble was the call judge with five entries in the show ring of the seven listed in the program. 
Seven of 15 programmed entries answered the last gate call of the night in the Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Horses class. She’s Limitless made the trip to the winner’s circle in the class for the fourth straight year with Molly Walters on board. Kelsey Andrews from Rancho Mirage, California, is the owner. She’s Limitless, sired by The Sky Command, has five blues in six classes in 2022. Harley Quinn and owner-rider Beth Collins were second, while Consuelo was ridden to third by Allyson Abbott for owner Sherry Sims.