Owner-Amateur Division Growing By Leaps and Bounds

78 entries take to the track on a soggy night at the Celebration

by Melissa R. Stevens

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - Wednesday night at the Celebration started off with a soupy, soggy track. Heavy rains that moved through the area earlier in the day left the track a mess, but the dedicated Celebration grounds crew got busy bringing in new surface material and had the track back in showing condition just in time for the start of the first class, the Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares and Geldings class.

For the first time in history the Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares and Geldings class had to be split into three divisions. A total of 78 entries showed in the three divisions of the class, the largest number of entries for this class in the 65-year history of the Celebration. Section A brought 25 entries to the ring. Laura Brandon called the class. With such a large number of entries to judge, an additional workout was called for 15 of the entries. Texas Salsa and Nancy Groover were the unanimous choice of the judges for the first place tie. This talented entry has garnered blues at Jackson, Miss., Bethesda and Lewisburg this year. Wink and Nancy Groover of Longview, Texas are the proud owners of this entry. Miss Lipstick with Joel Johnson up for Suzy Johnson of Shelbyville, Tenn., was the reserve choice followed by My First Dollar and George Ann Pratt for Don Pratt of Kansas City, Mo. Miss Lipstick has taken the blue home from the Mt. Pleasant show this year, while My First Dollar has won blues this year at Gallatin, the Spring Fun Show and Centerville, Tenn.

Section B of the Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares and Geldings class featured 27 entries. Mike Carpenter was the call judge for the class. Once again a workout was called. Fifteen entries were asked to remain for further work in the class; all others were excused. Eric Lackey made his first Celebration blue ribbon ride in this section aboard San Juan for Mr. and Mrs. Eric Lackey of High Point, N.C. Dangerous Medusa and Marguerite Thomas took the reserve honors for Womack Stables of Murfreesboro, Tenn. This horse has had a good year winning blues at the World Cup Spring Premier, Murfreesboro Exchange Club and Belfast. The third place tie went to Skywatch's Dark N Stormy with owner/exhibitor Tricia Timmons of Charleston, S.C., and Shelbyville, Tenn., in the irons. Skywatch's Dark N Stormy has also had a good year taking the blue at the Trainers Show, Gulf Coast Charity and the Spring Fun Show.

The third and final section of the Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Mares and Geldings class had 25 entries. Gene Carswell was selected as the call judge for this section. Fifteen entries stayed for an additional workout. Major Heart Throb and Beverly Sherman were called to accept the blue ribbon for Floyd Sherman of Dallas, Texas. Major Heart Throb also won the blue at the Woodbury show this year. Monte Cristo and Dee Dee Sale were reserve for the Gilbert Miller Family of Richmond, Ky., followed by I'm Sam Houston and Nancy Groover for Wink and Nancy Groover of Longview, Texas. Monte Cristo took the blue home from the 2003 Walking To Make A Difference show.

After taking a moment to drag the track to ensure the safety of the horses and riders in the next class, which was the Park Pleasure Driving class for two-wheeled vehicles, five entries came to the ring. Jamie Hankins was the call judge. She's A Double Major, a Double Springs Farm of Murfreesboro, Tenn., entry, with Sonny Scrivner at the whip was the winner. This was Sonny's first Celebration blue. Way to go Sonny! Mr. Mission Impossible with Larry Derryberry at the whip for Gayle Smith was reserve followed by Caprice's Lady Gen and Mike Civils for Benny Coffey of Petersburg, Tenn.

The Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses class for riders ages 70 years and over was next to take the track. Twenty "super elite" riders directed their entries around the ring in hopes of winning the blue. Paul Watlington was the call judge. When the awards were handed out, Rainbow Of Colors and Jamie Etheredge were chosen to receive the first place honors for Mr. and Mrs. Jamie Etheridge of Collinsville, Ala. This was Jamie's first ever Celebration blue. Congratulations Jamie and Rainbow Of Colors. Doc's Gypsy Rose and owner/exhibitor Odie Adcock of East Petersburg, Pa., were reserve in the class. Revelation was ridden to the third place tie by owner/exhibitor Bill Harlin of Franklin, Tenn.

Sixteen entries made the gate call for the Park Pleasure Two-Year-Old Walking Horse class. Laura Brandon was the call judge. Jazz All Night and Doug Barnes were chosen to make the victory pass for owners Lawrence & Hutto of Thomasville, Ga. A Mystery Man and Jeff Givens were reserve for Joe and Rita Daniel of Nixa, Mo., followed by Stellar and Craig Swaggerty for Autumn Baskins of Lehi, Utah.

Thirteen proud moms and their adorable babies took to the ring in the Mare and Foal class. Mike Carpenter was selected as the call judge. After a few trips around the ring, the horses and handlers were asked to line up head to tail for judging. The beautiful grey horse, Blue Nun, and her tiny black foal, Our American Idol, were chosen as the first place winners. Wendy Boyd and Karen McGee were the handlers for the MTSU Foundation of Murfreesboro, Tenn. Beam's Misbehavin and her baby Destined To Command were reserve with handlers Jeremy Carlton and Cindi Williams for owners Pamela Rivers and Crawford Colts, LLC of Ocean Springs, Miss., and Carrollton, Ga. Third in the class went to Storm Alert and Armed & Alert with Chris Hazelwood and A.J. Jamison handling for Dick Peebles of Shelbyville, Tenn.

Nine retired trainers over 55 on walking horses entered the ring for competition. The blue ribbon in this class went to Pusher's Redemption and Hulon Humphrey for owner Jim Williams of Shelbyville, Tenn. I'm Twice The Delight and Jimmy Holloway were reserve for Lloyd and Mary Touchton of Fairborn, Ga., followed by Generator's Nat King Cole and Jim Landers for Doug and Denia Graham and Dream Acres of Montesano, Wash.

The Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 Canter class featured 19 entries. Jamie Hankins was the call judge. Generator's Champion and Caresse Mills were chosen to make the blue ribbon ride for Rusty Hyneman and Hy Steppin' Farm of Germantown, Tenn. Generator's Champion has had a busy year. This talented horse has won blues at the Trainers Show, Jackson, Miss., the Spring Fun Show, Woodbury and Belfast. Mr. Pushbutton and Candy Butler were reserve for Glen and Virgie Crutchfield of Memphis, Tenn. This talented entry has also won quite a few blues this year. Mr. Pushbutton has won blues this year at Manchester, Centerville, McMinnville and Wartrace. The third place tie was awarded to Dirty Little Games and Brandi Todd of Richmond, Ky.

Nineteen entries answered the gate call for the Owner-Amateur Riders on Classic Walking Horses class. A classic horse is defined as a horse that is at least 15 years old. Paul Watlington was the call judge. Pride's Flashy Girl and Elaine Doxey made their last Celebration appearance a blue ribbon one for Flying Sun Acres, Inc., and Richard and Elaine Doxey of Crossville, Ala. Pride's Flapjack and Lillian Gaines were reserve for Mr. and Mrs. L.H. Gaines of Blytheville, Ark., followed by Network and owner/exhibitor Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn. This was the last ride for Coin's Clown, a four-time World Champion owned by the Jimmy Smith family of Oliver Springs, Tenn. This classic horse took eighth place for his last competitive ride. Congratulations Coin's Clown!

A roster full of fine harness entries caused the class to be split into two divisions. Section A of the class brought 14 entries to the ring. Laura Brandon was the call judge. General Custer with Scott Benham at the whip for the Nevada B Ranch of Gardnerville, Nev claimed the blue. Clutch's Power Play and Scott Beaty were reserve for Double Springs Farm of Murfreesboro, Tenn., followed by Storm Threat Too and Ronal Young for Mr. and Mrs. R. Rigual of Oklahoma, City, Okla., and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Section B of the Fine Harness class featured 11 entries. Mike Carpenter was the call judge. Genius Gold Spirit was driven to the blue in this section of the class by Ramsey Bullington for the Robert Keenan family of Franklin, Tenn. A Major Masterpiece and Robby Black were reserve for Black Gold Farm of Normandy, Tenn., followed by On The Money and Scott Beaty for Double Springs Farm of Murfreesboro, Tenn. The final class of the evening was the Walking Geldings, Five Years and Over, Over 15.2 Canter class. Seventeen entries made the gate call and Gene Carswell was the call judge. Barracuda and Jimmy McConnell took the first place tie for Mary Medina of Skillman, N.J. Tennessee Gen and John Allan Callaway were reserve for Bud Moore and Suzanne Littell of Catherine, Ala. The third place ribbon was awarded to Pushin That Jazz and Mike Hilley for Sarah Dunn of Nashville, Tenn.

It was another record setting night at the 65th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. The paid attendance was 22,934, and the actual attendance was 11,216, the highest ever in Celebration history for this night. Great competition sure does keep the audience coming back for more!