2011 Spring Fun Show Hosts Top Industry Talent

By Jeffrey Howard

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – “As a whole, how could you not be pleased with a show like this when you’ve been where we’ve been,” summed up Celebration CEO and Show Manager Dr. Doyle Meadows.  Meadows captured the feelings of the majority at the conclusion of the Memorial Day weekend tradition in the Walking Horse Industry.

2011 marked the 41st Annual Spring Fun Show and for the first time in 3 years the event moved back inside the Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn. on the show grounds of the historic Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.  “It was good to be back in Calsonic Arena where it was kept cool and we were able to escape the weather on Thursday evening,” said Meadows.

Nathan Clark, Brock Tillman and Joel Weaver adjudicated the three-night show held May 26-28, 2011.  Multi-day shows in the industry are judged by the entries you have and the depth of those entries.  This year’s Fun Show succeeded in both areas hosting 457 entries in 2011.  Whereas that was seven less entries than in 2010, 404 of those entries made the gate call which was an increase from the 395 that answered the gate call in 2010.

With an average of nine entries per class and eight per class answering the gate call, Meadows took the opportunity to thank the trainers that brought those entries.  “We would like to commend the trainers for bringing their best and supporting our show.  I would also like to thank the trainers for bringing compliant horses.  The USDA was here for all three days and worked cooperatively with the DQPs from SHOW and inspections were smooth,” said Meadows.

He continued, “With all of the positives from our show I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I was disappointed in our flat shod entries and our halter entries.  We have worked extremely hard with our schedule to appease the flat shod and halter divisions and it will continue to do so in the future,” commented Meadows.

The crowd didn’t get to see a full stake class finale but they did get the opportunity to see an exciting one with portions of the crowd pulling hard and loud for their favorite.  At the end the three judges marked their cards exactly the same placing all five of the entries in the same positions.  Folsom Prison Blues and Rodney Dick won their second major title of the year and have clearly established themselves as a team to be reckoned with come Labor Day weekend. 

The big talented stallion followed up his Mississippi Charity title with a wonderful performance at the Spring Fun Show for owners, the Jimmy Smith family.  2011 National Trainers’ Show champion and 2010 Reserve World Grand Champion Star and Chad Baucom finished in reserve.  Star and Baucom have become a formidable team and will be factors wherever they show up for the remainder of the season.  Justin Harris directed Puttin’ Cash On The Line to third place honors and 2011 Gulf Coast Charity champion Jail Time and Edgar Abernathy were fourth.  Ultimate Power Stroke and Michael Daniel rounded out the top five.

On Thursday night, the show didn’t make people wait long for the debut of much-talked about Walk Time Charlie and Chad Baucom.  John Callicutt directed Walk Time Charlie to top honors at the Trainers’ Show and then sold interest in the horse to Neal Holland and Bob Kilgore.  The trio watched their talented team finish with a unanimous blue ribbon tie in the Four-Year-Old Stallions division, as Baucom made his first ride aboard Walk Time Charlie.  Finishing in reserve was the popular team of Michael Wright and A Strong Need For Cash.  In third making a very solid show were Samsung and Bill Callaway.

Many walking horse enthusiasts would argue that each year the three-year-old division hosts many of those industry’s finest horses.  This year would not be an exception and one of those debuted with a blue ribbon ride on Saturday night.  Low On Gin made his first performance of 2011 a memorable one as he claimed top honors for Mike and Lee McGartland.  Sox Appeal and Jeff Laughlin gave them a run for their money finishing a strong second.  He’s Busting The Gin and Link Webb finished third in the extremely talented and deep class.

Friday night hosted the two-year-old class and many of the most-talked about colts made their way to the show ring.  Casey Wright and I Am Jose took home top honors in their first performance of the year for owners Max and Woods.  Finishing reserve were Blue’s Master and Jimmy McConnell also making their first show of the year.  Fresh off their championship at the Mississippi Charity, Jose It Ain’t So and Jonathan Watts finished in third.

In other highlights from the professional division, Busted At Pebble Beach and Justin Harris claimed top on honors in the Two-Year-Old Mares & Geldings and Harris directed Jose’s High Society to the Open Specialty blue ribbon to wrap up Thursday night’s performance.  Jimmy McConnell directed She’s A Shady Sister to the blue in the Three-Year-Old Mares & Geldings and Miss Mojito in the Four-Year-Old Mares & Geldings,

More Of The Major and John Allan Callaway topped the 15.2 & Under and Callaway took Goodbye Joe to the blue in the Aged Mares & Geldings.  Callaway wasn’t done as he took Above  The Line to the Young Trainers title.  Link Webb directed Chillin’ The Most to the blue in the Open Show Pleasure.  Tim Smith took the popular San Juan to the Park Performance blue.

Lilly Waites had a good Memorial Day weekend.  The talented juvenile from Mississippi took home three blue ribbons.  Waites directed Prime Poison, Lined Walkin’, and A Private Benjamin to top honors across the three nights of the show.  Other juvenile winners included Nathan Oliver and A Cloudy Sky, Kaitlyn Rippy and She’s Pretty Jazzy, and Mackenzie Morgan and Bustline.

Amateur competition is always stiff at the Spring Fun Show and 2011 was no exception.  Clay Mills took advantage of his trip from North Carolina winning two blues aboard I’m Wall Street in the Amateur Specialty and I’m Poker Face in the Amateur Three-Year-Old Stallions.  Gail Walling took her new mount, Memphis Mafia to top honors in the Amateur Two-Year-Old Stallions and The Dixie Lineman to the Adult Pony title.

Also taking home to Texas multiple blue ribbons was Nancy Groover aboard She’s Sugarland in the Four-Year-Old Mares & Geldings and I’m Tex Anna in the Two-Year-Old Mares & Geldings.

In the 15.2 & Under division, Sherri Pollack took I’m P Diddy to the blue in the stallion class and Deborah Williams took Miss Hosanna to the winner’s circle in the Mares & Geldings.  Pollack sister, Patti didn’t disappoint and directed The Concealed Weapon to the championship in the Park Performance class.
Pushin’ That Jazz and Dalia Smith claimed top honors in the Over 15.2 Geldings division and Rosetta Stone and Patty Marek claimed blue in the Mares division.  Brian Reece debuted his 2010 World Grand Champion Strolling Thru The Ritz in 2011 claiming the title in the Amateur Canter class.

Reece wasn’t the only one showing their 2010 World Grand Champion.  Kay Green brought He’s Vida Blue to the winners’ circle and Courtney Luttrell directed Godfather By Ultra Copy to the Amateur Show Pleasure blue.  Lee McGartland took She’s A Shady Sister to the blue in the Amateur Three-Year-Old Mares & Geldings class. 

Jeff Smith was eager to get in on the act and continued his impressive 2011 show season claiming the blue with Play Something Country in the riders 50 years of age and over.  Proving how tough the Fun Show was, three-time World Grand Champion My First Dollar and George Ann Pratt took a unanimous blue ribbon home in the Ladies Mares & Geldings class.

Also tough was the pleasure division.  Although Meadows was disappointed in the numbers the quality was as good as ever.  Jose Quervo Gold and Joanne Davis took blue in the Amateur Lite-Shod, Vindicated and Carrie Martin were tops in the Western Lite-Shod, and A Red Ruby and Liz Gassaway placed first in the Country Pleasure.

She’s Up For Parole and Robert Nelms claimed the English Classic Park Pleasure blue, Big N Rich and Bruce Hankins were tops in the Park Pleasure, and Victoria’s Got A Secret and Sandra Dennis brought home the blue in the Amateur English Trail Pleasure.  Petal Pushin’ Jazz and Lauren Hamilton claimed the Western Trail Pleasure crown.

Nicole Coffey took her World Champion Yao Ming to the Park Pleasure blue ribbon.  A Mountain Jazz and Jeff Laughlin were tops in the Open Lite-Shod.  Mr. Paparazzi and Bo Teague were the champs in the Country Pleasure Gentleman Riders.

No stranger to the winner’s circle, Trigger Treat and Jeff Givens took the top honor in the Model.  Making an impressive first drive were West Side Willie and Gavin Kasser in the Fine Harness. 

The Supreme Titleist, Yearling Colts, Generator’s Secret Touch, Yearling Mares & Geldings, and Walkin’ Down The Line, Amateur Yearlings were the halter division winners.

Fans, exhibitors and enthusiasts will depart from Shelbyville to enjoy the remainder of their Memorial Day weekend holiday with a good taste in their mouths from the 41st Annual Spring Fun Show.  “We were extremely pleased with our crowds, not only in number but in their enthusiasm and liveliness,” concluded Meadows.

The industry continued its march forward with showing competitive, compliant Tennessee Walking Horses in large numbers.  The remainder of the show season appears bright and will continue with large shows across the country in the coming summer months.