By Mark Davis


            Ah, it’s Friday night in Shelbyville!  A brief rain shower blew through Bedford County in the late afternoon cooling down temperatures and leaving a light cool breeze, granted jackets will not be needed, but compared with the 100+ degree temperatures at show time last evening, anything is an improvement.

            The evening certainly promises to be exciting and the competition strong with the Youth Riders 11 and Under on Walking Geldings opening the schedule, the Three-Year-Old Stallions falling about midway and the Owner Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Mares at the end of the schedule.  It’s a night to come early, settle in, stay late and enjoy it all!

            The judging panel should have their work cut out for them tonight.  The panel for the 69th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Mike Carpenter of Franklin, Tenn., Allen Forman of Thomson, Ga., Justin Jenne’of Lewisburg, Tenn., Sam Sorrell of Lexington, Ky.,  and Ronnie Spears of Tullahoma, Tenn.

            Shortly before 7 pm, the rains came back again sending all but the diehards heading for dryer cover.  However, a light rain shower can’t stop the show.  Promptly at 7 p.m., Counterfeit Dollar and Bud Seaton headed down the hill and the evening’s show got underway.  The invocation was given by Bro. Ron Chilton of Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Southside Baptist Church followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Kylene Crabb of Shelbyville, Tenn.

            As Bud and Dollar headed back up the hill, it was time for the show to get underway as class 46A, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Walking Geldings, was called to the ring.  Unfortunately for the young riders the rain continued and actually got a little harder, but as any true Celebration fan knows, the show must go on.  Eleven of the 17 with reservations made their way to the big oval to work as Judge Ronnie Spears led the panel.  A little rain certainly didn’t bother these young riders, they continued to work and ride their mounts as hard as ever hoping to make their Celebration dreams come true.  A little rain, shortly became a lot of rain mixed in with nearby thunder and lightning. 

When the work was complete, it was the 2006 Youth 11 and Under WGC Sanman and Benjamin Bowen, 2007 champions at the Gulf Coast Charity Celebration, the Spring Fun Show, the Money Tree Classic and Lewisburg, Tenn.’s Marshall County Horse Show, making the wet ride down victory lane for Larry Russell of Pontotoc, Miss.   With this win, coupled with wins in this division in 2004 & 2006, the duo retired The Delight’s Sundance Challenge Trophy and The Sherra Elizabeth Burgess Memorial Challenge Trophy. JFK Again and Jordan Dean picked up the reserve honors for proud grandmother, Mona Dean of Wendell, N.C. Owner/exhibitor Hailey Puckett of Wartrace, Tenn. and Bold Stroke’s Attraction were third.

            After the entries from the A division were safely out of the ring, the decision was made to hold the B division until the worst of the storm subsided.

            After a short delay, class 46B, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 on Walking Geldings were called to take the track.  Fourteen of the 18 programmed teams made the trip down the hill to a Celebration track that took the water well and remained to appear in good condition.  Judge Mike Carpenter served as Call Judge for the split.  Generating a World Championship win was the team of Generated by Jose and Trey Blackburn riding for Dr. H.E. Barker of Arab, Ala.  This partnership already held an impressive 2007 resume featuring wins at the South Alabama Charity Horse Show, Cullman, Ala., Tuscaloosa, Ala.’s William Way Memorial Horse Show, Columbia, Tenn.’s Spring Jubilee, Arab, Ala.’s WHAA Summer Classic and Pulaski, Tenn.’s Red Carpet Horse Show Of The South. Jose’s Vegenance and Rae Shumate-Tysor of Cummings, Ga. & Shelbyville, Tenn. rode in for the red ribbon in the event.  Alex Blackburn and Card Trick accepted the yellow streamers for Medina & Blackburn of Skillman, N.J. & Franklin, Tenn.

            The professionals made their first appearance of the night in class 47, Two-Year-Old Walking Geldings.  Judge Allen Forman called the class which featured 16 of the 29 expected taking the rail as the judging panel pulled out their rain gear, a sure sign the rain just might be here for a while.  Making it through the rain with an outstanding performance were Prodigy and Joe Cotten riding for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn, Spin My Money and Dale Watts rode into the second position for Brett & Lisa Jones of Tylertown, Miss.  Justin Harris and Assault were third for Betty Denton of Murrieta, Calif. 

            Class 48 featured the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions with 21 of the 54 on the entry sheet making their way down to the big oval to work their hardest for Call Judge Justin Jenne’, his panel and the solid group of Celebration diehards holding on through the rain to cheer on their favorite teams.  A quick look at the placing in the class will explain how deep the competition was in this division with over half of the top ten being current or past World Champions or World Grand Champions.  However, only one team could come out on top and that was the striking grey stallion, Greyline with Koni Tidwell in the irons for Joey Tidwell of Rockmart, Ga.  Since being teamed up in late June, this duo rode to top honors at the Bethesda Horse Show and Asheville, N.C.’s Land-O-The-Sky Horse Show.  Jazzed Up and owner/exhibitor Brenda Bramblett of Shelbyville, Tenn. garnered the red streamers.  2006 Amateur Specialty WGC The Sky Command and Julie Grider rounded out the top three for The Tommy Grider Family of Columbia, Ky.

            The competition was just as strong in class 49A, Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions as 31 of the 49 expected made their way to show their very best under the watchful eye of Call Judge Sam Sorrell and his cohorts.  Riding to the top of the outstanding event with a stellar performance and a unanimous decision of the judging panel was the reigning Two-Year-Old WGC The Coach and Joe Cotten up for Holland & Kilgore of Decatur & Tuscaloosa, Ala.  Cotten and The Coach had already put together a great 2007 going undefeated with wins at Jackson, Miss.’s Mississippi State Charity Horse Show, Gallatin, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show and Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Money Tree Classic.  Bill Callaway and Absolute Proof were reserve for Ricky Young of Boaz, Ala.  Heading back Carolina way, First Parole and Chad Baucom were third for Rhonda Warren of Kernersville, N.C.

            The water got even deeper in class 49B, Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions as 35 of the 51 programmed entries worked for their very own chance in the Friday night Celebration winner’s circle.  Judge Ronnie Spears led the panel in the event.  Walking their way through the competition and hitting it out of the park with another unanimous decision was Dimaggio and Billy Young showing for Holland & Kilgore of Decatur and Tuscaloosa, Ala.  Prior to his purchase by Holland & Kilgore, this striking gray stallion was shown to victories at the Spring Fun Show, Woodbury, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show and Pulaski, Tenn.’s Red Carpet Horse Show Of The South under the name Mission Possible.    Ozone’s Cut Above All and John Allan Callaway collected the red streamers for Mark & Sharon Thomas of Columbus, N.C.  Bee Bee King and Jimmy McConnell picked up the yellow ribbon for Bob Medina of Skillman, N.J.

            Class 50 brought the Park Performance Walking Horses, Four Years and Under to the big oval with 25 of the 35 with reservations making their way down from the dry confines of Calsonic Arena.  Judge Mike Carpenter served as Call Judge for the class.  Walking away with the blue was the third beautiful gray we had the pleasure to see in the winner’s circle tonight, Silver On The Line with trainer Spencer Benedict in the irons for Austin Benedict of Glasgow, Ky.  Knight’s Gambler and Bruce Hankins rode in for second for Mose Jobe of Nashville, Tenn.  Rollie Beard and Hello Jose said goodbye to the competition as they picked up third for Carolyn Wehling of Augusta, Ky.

            The young riders were back in the big oval for class 51, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-14 Years on Walking Ponies and of course, that’s when the rains came back out of nowhere and harder than ever.  This reporter certainly understands that we need the rain here in Middle Tennessee, but couldn’t it have waited just a couple of more hours.  The deluge continued throughout the class, but it didn’t stop Electrifying and Samantha Gaddy from riding to the winner’s circle for Rina Gaddy of Kernersville, N.C.  General Splash, an fittting name for a night like this, and Lindsey Landrum pulled in for reserve for Lindsey Landrum of Franklin, Tenn.  Move Over and Alexander Way were third for Rutner & Way of Northport & Tuscaloosa, Ala.

            As the rains continued to pour, the winds blew even harder blowing chairs and debris throughout the arena.  With that, Celebration announcer Chip Walters gave word that the show had been suspended for the evening and an announcement would be forthcoming in regards to when the remaining six classes on the evening’s schedule would be rescheduled. 

            Stay tuned to for the official announcement as soon as word is received.