By Mark McGee

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – It was the final night of preliminary competition Wednesday at the 84th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. Spectators were exposed to the versatility of the breed in the 13 classes with fine harness, amateur owned and trained horses, mares and foals and a selection of other divisions in “The Big Oval”.

Dan Asche of First Christian Church offered the invocation. Leah Boyd, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, sang a marvelous rendition of the National Anthem as Hall of Fame rider Ronnie Spears presented the American flag under the spotlight aboard White Diamond Dollar.

Students, faculty and staff from The Learning Way School and Liberty School were special guests of The Celebration.

Four entries answered the gate call from ring announcer Mark Farrar in the Fine Harness class. Ten entries were listed in the program. Koufax and co-owner driver Blaise Broccard struck out the competition with top honors for co-owner Ron Wagaman from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. Koufax was sired by The Dixie Lineman and has two blues in six classes this year. Bill Callaway was the driver as In Ted’s Image placed reserve for owner Ron Lawrence. 10 Carat Charlie tied third with Derek Monahan driving for Donna Kay Head. Paul Robbins was the call judge.

Six of 12 scheduled entries were in the ring for the Walking Geldings Five Years & Over, Canter class. Sam Sorrell called the class. Mr. For Real and rider Jimmy McConnell repeated as the winner in the class, having also won in 2021. Mr. For Real, sired by Arm’s Deal For Real M, won his second blue in seven classes in 2022 and is owned by Paul Simmons from Orangeburg, South Carolina. Bill Callaway rode A Dixie General to a red ribbon for owner Laura Mauney. Charlie Paycheck and Tanner Burks placed third for owner Steve McLaurin. 

Amy Trimble was the call judge in Division A of the Amateur Owned & Trained Walking Horses class. Twelve entries competed in the class. Horses could not have received any professional training within 90 days. Owner-rider Newton Parks from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, rode to the blue aboard I’m Into Cash. It was the second win is as many outings for I’m Into Cash, who was sired by Lined With Cash. Another Nine Yards tied second with Jacob Miller riding for Matt Miller. I’m Bob Marley walked way with a yellow ribbon for owner-rider Kim Massengale. Both I’m Into Cash and Another Nine Yards are classic horses.

Ready To Play was ready to show with a top tie in Division B of the Amateur Owned & Trained Walking Horses class for owner-rider Dr. David Bullock from Mount Vernon, Kentucky. Sired by Ted Williams, Ready To Play has five blues in seven classes in 2022 with three wins in a row. Mr. Gamecock, a classic horse, received a red streamer with co-owner Curtis Thompson riding for co-owner Joseph Livingston from Longs, South Carolina. Ferrari 308 and Dalia Smith Harr cruised to third for owner Kenny Smith. Eleven entries made the gate call. A total of 32 entries were listed in the program for the two classes. Sam Sorrell was the call judge.

Nineteen of 23 programmed entries were in the ring for the Three-Year-Old Walking Geldings class, the largest of the night. Jamie Bradshaw called the gaits. My Tanqueray and Link Webb rode to the winner’s circle for owners Don and Lucky Collins from Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Sired by Gen’s Black Gin, it was the second Celebration blue this year for My Tanqueray. Monday night Lucky earned top honors in Division A of the Owner-Amateur Three-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings class. Mr. Tanqueray has seven blues in 11 classes this year. Paranormal tied second with Josh Watts aboard for Ty Irby, while Collusion and Renardo Green were third for owner Dexter Roberts. The class included Futurity nominated three-year-old performance geldings.

The Walking Horse Trainers’ Auxiliary Members on Walking Horses class had five of 18 scheduled entries participate. John Puckett was the call judge. Me And Pocahontas walked to the blue ribbon with Allison Becknell in the saddle for owner Allyson Armstrong from Hickory, North Carolina. Me And Pocahontas, sired by I Am Jose’, won its fourth blue in five classes for this year. A Gin To Win was ridden to a red ribbon by Maria Bobo for owner Sherry Roberts. Dobie Gray and owner-rider Sarah Coffee Burks tied third.

Uncle Joe Simmons and Robby Bradley walked out with a blue ribbon for owner Terry Logan Lunsford from Nicholasville, Kentucky, in the Two-Year-Old Walking Geldings class. Sired by Jose’ Starstruck, it was the third blue in eight classes this show season for Uncle Joe Simmons. Yolo tied second with Jimmy McConnell on board for Noel and Linda Botsch. Hard Times With Gin earned a yellow ribbon with Clay Sanderson riding for Sister Milligan. Eight of 16 programmed entries competed. The class included Futurity nominated two-year-old performance geldings. Paul Robbins was the call judge.

La Patrona and her foal La Diamanté were led to first in the Mare & Foal class by handlers Karen Harnden and Shelby Sims for owner Dale Steinmetz from Louisville, Kentucky. It was their second win in as many outings this show season. Me And Mrs. Jones, a classic horse, and foal Me And Mrs. Honors placed second with Lynn Womack and Emery Sims leading for co-owners Bobby Jones and Roger Richards. Miss Serena Williams and foal Miss Sassypants tied third with Jesse Dotson, Jr. and Jaron Dotson leading for Jim and Rhonda Hatch. All nine programmed entries participated. It was the first time the class has been held in “The Big Oval” in a few years. Sam Sorrell was the call judge.

Wanted THF was the unanimous blue ribbon winner selected by the five-judge panel with Patrick Thomas in the irons for owners Manis and Pope of Shelbyville, Tennessee and Taylorsville, North Carolina. The win came in the Park Performance Walking Horses, Five Years & Under class. Wanted THF was sired by Jose’ Jose’ and has two wins in seven classes in 2022. Praise And Honor tied second with Jeff Laughlin in the irons for Doris Penick, while Jose’s Captain Jack was presented a yellow ribbon with Chris Helton riding for co-owners Wayne Conley and Sherry Rouse. The class included Futurity nominated two-and-three-year-old park performance mares, geldings and stallions. Amy Trimble called the class with eight of 15 original entries showing. 

Kayla Baucom was aboard as Honor And Salute earned top honors in the Walking Horses, Mares or Geldings class for Kerry DeArmond from Greer, South Carolina. Sired by Honors, it was the fourth win for Honor And Salute in 2022. Master Of The Tee took home a red ribbon with Sam Martin riding for Beverly Sherman. Manning and Jimmy McConnell were third for owner Kelsey Andrews. Sixteen of 39 original entries were in the ring. Jamie Bradshaw called the class.

It was the second year in a row for The Honor Code to be ridden to a blue ribbon in the Show Pleasure Walking Horses, Five Years & Under class by John Allan Callaway for owner Alan Riddley from Kings Mountain, North Carolina. It was the second unanimous decision of the judges for the night. The Honor Code has four wins in four classes in 2022 and seven consecutive blues dating back to 2021. Honors To Mr. Guess tied second with Jeremy Jeansonne aboard for Evergreen Walking Horse Farm LLC. Third in the class was Hard Eight with Lake Weaver riding for The Nipper Family. The class included Futurity nominated two-and-three-year-old show pleasure mares, geldings and stallions. Eleven of 27 planned entries showed. John Puckett called the class. 

Versace’s Dollar, the unanimous decision of the judges, repeated its 2021 win in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, Classic Horses 15 Years & Over class. Kenny Compton was in the saddle for owner Rick Compton. Sired by Generator’s Silver Dollar, it was the second blue in five classes for Versace’s Dollar this show season. The red ribbon was presented to Leavenworth with co-owner Buck Buchanan riding for co-owner Donna Buchanan. Cashin’ In On The Faith was the third tie with April Jeffers showing for Richard Jeffers. Eleven of 17 programmed entries answered the gate call. Paul Robbins called the class.

Gin’s Shadow walked to a unanimous first place in the Walking Horses, Canter class with Jimmy McConnell in the irons for Mike Floyd from Columbia, Tennessee. Four of 21 programmed entries were in the class with Sam Sorrell serving as call judge. He’s Pushin’ The Dollar and Michael Wright carried out the reserve world title for Bob and Rocy Cole. Jason Bourne placed third with Gary Wayne Smith riding for Barry George. Both Gin’s Shadow and Jason Bourne were sired by Gen’s Black Gin.