By Mark Davis
It almost doesn’t seem possible that this performance would be the final preliminary performance of the 73rd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. However, by the time the evening is complete, horse show fans will have seen 137 classes of competition come through the gates of Calsonic Arena and the historic big oval from the halter, flat shod & performance divisions and we certainly have seen some outstanding horses and some outstanding classes of competition.

The Wednesday evening performance should not disappoint with 12 classes of competition highlighted by the Open Fine Harness, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings, Walking Geldings, Over 15.2 and Open Specialty Stallions.

The judges for the 73rd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Jennifer Bingham of Shelbyville, Tenn., Jamie Bradshaw of Union Grove, Ala., Jamie Hankins of Paris, Ky., Ronnie Spears of Tullahoma, Tenn. & Jeff Willis of Shelbyville, Tenn.

The invocation for the Wednesday evening performance was given by Rev. Monnie Caine, Pastor of the Normandy Presbyterian Church, followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Mark Hulsey of Atlanta, Ga.

The first class on the evening’s schedule was class 127, Fine Harness, with nine of 16 carefully working down the hill to show in style for Judge Ronnie Spears and his panel. Driving to the winner’s circle was Jazz’s Master and Brandye Mills at the whip for Kelly Mills of Birmingham, Ala. Carolina Confederate and Mickey McCormick were reserve for Laura McGee of Shelbyville, Tenn. Breakin Parole and Sam McLaughlin were third for Joyce Meadows of Ashland City, Tenn.

Class 128A brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings to the track with 17 of the 30 expected taking the rail to work for their chance at a sentimental journey down victory lane this Wednesday night as Judge Jeff Willis served as Call Judge in the section. Proving their blue ribbon status in the division was the team of She Has Status and owner/exhibitor Joyce Meadows, 2011 champions at the Marshall County Horse Show, taking the World Championship honors home to Ashland City, Tenn. This marked this young mare’s second blue of the 2011 Celebration after topping the B Section of the Three-Year-Old Walking Mares with trainer John Allan Callaway on Saturday Night. Dollar’s Misty Maid and Sarah Moersch pulled into the second position for Dr. Barbara Moersch of Jacksonville, Ala. Justin Credible and owner/exhibitor Justin Parks of Asheboro, N.C., rounded out the top three in the class.

Fifteen of 31 made the call for Class 128B, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings. Judge Jennifer Bingham served as Call Judge in the class. Making that memorable ride was Lee McGartland and She’s A Shady Sister, 2011 champions at the Spring Fun Show, riding for Mike & Lee McGartland of Ft. Worth, Texas. Ritz Diamond In The Ruff and Betty Corlew riding for James & Betty Corlew of Adams, Tenn. Jeter and Dalia Smith pulled in for the third award for Annabelle Smith of Manchester, Ky.

The professional trainers were back for class 129, Walking Geldings, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 (Canter) (Riders’ Cup). Nine of the 15 with reservations beat the clock for their chance to work for Judge Jamie Bradshaw and his panel. Rolling to the winner’s circle was Like A Rolling Stone and Link Webb in the irons, winner’s at the Alabama Classic earlier this month, for Dr. Barbara Moersch of Jacksonville, Ala. General’s Show Stopper and Bill Callaway were reserve for Little & Williams of Spring Grove, Pa. & Wartrace, Tenn. Cheatin’ Danger and John Allan Callaway were third for Trish Harrison of Nashville, Tenn.

The Park Performance entries were up next on the evening’s program for class 130, Park Performance Walking Horses, Five Years and Over. Twelve of the 30 on the official Lions Club program took the rail to work in the division. Judge Jamie Hankins served as Call Judge for the class. Riding to the winner’s circle were Moonshine Man and Philip Trimble riding for Robert Cunningham of Talladega, Ala. Jose’s Moonlight Dreamgirl and Dan Waddell were reserve riding for Dr. Ted Swartz of Jackson, Mo. Picture Me Dangerous and Ross Campbell were third riding for Bob & Sudie Reed of Jasper, Ala.

Amateur Owned & Trained Walking Horses, class 131, was up next with 11 of the 21 on the program taking the track to take advantage of their moment in the historic big oval as Judge Ronnie Spears called the gaits for the class. Headed back west with the blue was Ego and owner/exhibitor Phillip Curlee taking honors home to Elkins, Ark. Headed the other way, Pardon Me Governor and Harrell Bond Jones II were reserve riding for Jimbo Conner of Sevierville, Tenn. Jose’s Jazzy Spirit and Kenny Compton were third for Rick Compton of North Tazewell, Va.

Class 132, Young Trainers 35 and Under on Walking Mares or Geldings (Riders’ Cup) was up next with sixteen trainers making the call to work for Judge Jeff Willis and his panel. Busting out of the line up and headed down victory lane was Paroled In Texas and John Allan Callaway up for Gerald Coggin & Merv Whittenburg families of Murfreesboro, Tenn. Jose’s Miss Dolly and Sam Martin accepted the red streamers for Larry McLaughlin & Jean O’Brien of Effingham, S.C. & Bell Buckle, Tenn. Dollar’s Bright Star and Edgar Abernathy rounded out the top three for Jannie Chapman of Fayetteville, Tenn.

Back in the Amateur division, class 133 featured the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions, Five-Years and Over (Canter) with seven of the 22 on the books showing all three gaits that make the Tennessee Walking Horse famous for Judge Jennifer Bingham and her cohorts. Drawing the approval of the judges and the crowd was the team of NYPD and Kenny Compton riding for Jack Compton of North Tazewell, Va. On The Line and Suzanne Moore was reserve for Bud Moore of Catherine, Ala. Strolling Thru The Ritz and Brian Reece were third for the Jimmy Reece family of Pikeville, Tenn.

Headed to the halter division for just a moment, it was time to bring the Mamas & Babies to the track for class 134, Mare & Foal with all four of the expected teams working as Judge Jamie Bradshaw served as Call Judge in the class. After they completed their work on the track, it was time to line up for final judging. When all the cards were complete, it was the team of Whoop! It In Command and Snookie Majors walking away with the blue with Nathan Mills and Joe Cotten at the lead for Nathan Mills of Nashville, Tenn. They captured the win with a unanimous decision of the panel. Princess Showboat and Rumble Of The Storm with Bobbi Kay Hein and Bobby Richards at the lead for Bobbi Kay Hein of Murfreesboro, Tenn., picked up the reserve awards. JD’s Miss Zoom and Mr. Taylor Made were third with Jesse Dotson III and Jessie Dotson, Jr., at the lead for Jesse Dotson, Jr., of Thompson Station, Tenn.

Nine entries made the gate call for class 135, Walking Horses, Mares and Geldings (Riders’ Cup). Judge Jamie Hankins called the gaits in the class for the professional trainers. Escaping from the grasps of the competition, Steve Dunn and Escape From Alcatraz made a stellar performance to ride for the win with a unanimous decision of the panel for the Larry Russell family of Pontotoc, Miss. Goodbye Joe and John Allan Callaway were second in the class for C & E Miller Farms of Elberton, Ga. Miss Demanding and Steve Aymett were third riding for Jeri Sue Arrighi of Tomball, Texas.

Headed into the pleasure division, class 136 featured the Park Pleasure Walking Stallions, Four Years and Over with five of the eight expected taking the rail to work as Judge Ronnie Spears served as Call Judge. Topping the class was Yao Ming and owner/exhibitor Nicole Coffey of Lewisburg, Tenn. Expedited and Patrick Thomas were reserve riding for Ty Irby of Shelbyville, Tenn. Headed back Louisiana way with third was Jose’s No Counting Me Out and Darden Gladney riding for Gladney Farms of Homer, La.

The final class of the Wednesday evening performance and of the preliminary competition of the 73rd Annual Celebration was Walking Horses, Stallions (Riders’ Cup), class 137 on the program. Seventeen teams came to entertain the Wednesday evening crowd, who was holding on strong since the time was only about 10 p.m. Judge Jeff Willis served as Call Judge on the final class of the evening. Hitting the home run to ride away with the win was John FK’s Pusher and Justin Harris riding for Bruce & Robin MacDonald of Lake City, Ga. Above The Line and John Allan Callaway were reserve, securing honors for Patricia Spivey of Jefferson City, Tenn. Bobby Boucher and Frankie Roark were a popular third riding for Rogers & Roark of Eatonton, Ga. & Bell Buckle, Tenn.

With that final victory pass, the preliminary competition was indeed complete and in the history books at 10:18 p.m. Tomorrow (Thursday) night, we start handing out roses and will continue to do so through Saturday night, when we will crown our 2011 Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship. There’s still great championship competition remaining and much history to be made. Make plans to be here to be a part of what can only be described as one great Celebration!