By Sadie Fowler

Twelve classes, dollar night and perfect weather, following a tiny scare of rain just before showtime, marked the Tuesday night performance at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, which kicked off with the Two-Year-Old Trail Pleasure class. Scandalous KK and Bailey Momb mirrored the beautiful sunset with a graceful performance that was bold enough to land them the victory for owners Kyle Bush and Lindy Holt. Making a presence worthy of a big Celebration reserve, Daddy’s Home DH with BJ Richards in the saddle earned some well-deserved attention as the new reserve champions in this class for Dr. Donnie Headrick, a major feat in and of itself among the crowded field of seasoned contenders.

Next in the lineup of another night that could easily be described as chill, relaxed, ideal and never dull, the Amateur Mares and Geldings Five and Over class followed the session’s start and seven entries made the gate call. Cruising to the blue for the second time in as many years, Country And Famous was the easy choice according to his good cheering section with Miles Irby in the saddle for Rick and Marla Lovett. Even though he was reserve, Rising Star Ranch still proudly said “He’s My Main Man,” about the reserve finishers, expertly guided into the reserve spot with Debbie Eichler in the saddle. 

Ever since she made her first Celebration appearance as an in-hand star, this pretty filly with a blonde mane and tail has been making headline news. Her name is Oh Susannah and Tuesday night she continued her winning ways and proved herself as a contender with endless potential as John Callicutt directed her down victory lane. Yet another young star that’s also made a name for herself, including at this year’s Celebration, Sherri Pollack had I Am Precious looking pretty with the precision it took to garner the reserve.

The B division was big and deep and it definitely took skill as well as divine talent to capture a top spot in this tough class but Beth Lawwell rode big, hard and bold. Even though she sported red on her flashy standout star, she rode out with the blue and heard the appreciation from the crowd, while another impressive entry, She’s Honored and Casee Bush, had the grace and style to slide into the reserve position in the crop of 11 that represented the future in fine fashion.

Twelve took center stage next for the easy-going entertainment called Park Performance. Relaxed and easy-going to the delight of everyone in the stands relaxing to the beat of the Celebration organ and ideal atmosphere, I’m A Proud American and Michael Wright captured the blue for Bill Williams. With subtle spunk and lots of style, Popcorn Sutton is familiar with the Big Oval and came back to deliver more entertainment to his fans from an early win this week but fell just shy in the tough class and settled for reserve. This time, trainer John Allan Callaway was in the saddle and the Baum family cheered on the sidelines. 

The Amateur Mares and Geldings 15.2 and Under class again fell in line with what seems to be a theme of the show, which includes a lot of female riders proving their abilities as serious equestrians that could stack up against any of the best. It was a class requiring those navigation skills just to be seen, much less win, and when the cards were turned in the busy Baum family had one more blue to celebrate as Dr. Brittany Baum delivered her usual consistent and focused performance for the bling, this time aboard Nine Carat Diamond. Reserve in the field of eight, Tam Brogdon rode her talented Boure’ with determination but also clearly had fun, piloting herself to the reserve finish with the crowd’s approval.

The Show Pleasure Walking Stallions followed with the highly anticipated and confident team of  Entitlement and Philip Trimble besting the field of seven for Kyle Bush and Sherrin Pittman. Reserve in the class went to Masq Of Jazz and Derek Bonner for The Gary Lester Family.

The Amateur Trail Pleasure class featured a lonely crowd that certainly didn’t lack luster with a trio of lady riders shining bright as they pleasantly shook and walked their way around the ring. She had the spotlight throughout the class as she positioned herself well to the delight of fans, but the spotlight shined even brighter when Mark Farrar announced Lindy Holt as the winning rider, teaming up with the popular and very much winning Luciano for the sparkling ride down victory lane. Checkpoint Charlie finished next in the lineup and Tamara Hader wore a big smile throughout the class as well as in their exit as reserve champions. 

Amateur Walking Stallions broke down into two divisions and both delivered a showdown that gave the terrific Tuesday crowd a second wind. Two timeouts were called but the remaining 11 in the lineup when the tabulations were made featured several horses that could win at any given show all summer long. A tough class to tie, preparation and opportunity combined to put Hole In My Pocket wearing a ribbon around his neck with Dr. David Bullock up, taking care of their fans who anticipated their good ride. Reserve in the class went to Creedmore Kid and David Sisk and the remainder of ribbons included names of many of the industry’s elite. 

Similarly, the B division for the Amateur Three-Year-Old Stallions was lined with class and charisma that makes the walking horse the breed we love. This time, 10 entries answered the gate with Nathan Clark serving as call judge and the panel put As I Am into the winner’s circle with Jason Myatt up for the second time in as many nights as he smiled big and gave a thumbs up while accepting the blue. This win retired the trophy for the Myatt family, giving Myatt reason to wear his big smile. Heeza José and Nancy Groover Hodges gave it their all and left with reserve. 

The young professionals of the industry, 35 and under, followed for what served as a matchup among the stallions. The class certainly proved to be noteworthy of attention as well as a good example for anyone wanting to see what it takes to be a trainer on the rise. Everyone worked hard until the end, especially Samsung and Bill Callaway, who had the slick-going style to secure the blue for the second year in a row, representing owner George-Ann Pratt. It could have been war for as far as these tough professionals were concerned as they showed up for the game, but in the end Warbird and Ryan Blackburn graciously accepted reserve for owner Ginger Williams. 

The final class of the evening also served as the as the evening’s largest class with an impressive 19 entries and it didn’t lack in depth. A Neon Cowboy and Brian Nichols were called out as the champions it was clear that the judges’ decision was in line with the crowd’s as they heard a huge round of applause while earning the bragging rights of “novice no more.” Reserve in the Novice Gentlemen’s Mares and Geldings class was Cole Haan, with Jack Heffington riding.