By Jennifer Maack-Condren

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., - The Ozark Empire Fairgrounds in Springfield, Mo., was the setting for the Heart of America Walking Horse Spring Classic on June 12-14, 2003. Show Chairman Karen Skopec spent many weeks planning and preparing for this 60-class show. Exhibitors were pleased with the new accommodations in the stall area and were eager to get the show underway. Anticipation and excitement turned to disappointment and tension with the arrival of six USDA officials. Dr. Judy Davis DVM, Medical Officer, one of the officials in attendance, also presided over the HAWHA Fall show last year held in Sedalia, detaining entries for two hours in the inspection area. Accompanying Dr. Davis at this year’s Heart of America show were Dr. Todd Behre, DVM, medical officer; Dr. Dawn Barlcsdale DVM, videographer; Phillip Ledbetter, senior investigator; Elizabeth Kelpis, senior investigator; and D.J. Kiner, security official. They randomly checked pre-show entries and all reserve winners with a lengthy inspection process.

A total of 120 entries were presented for judge Jeff Sanderson of Kenton, Tenn., to tie during the four-performance event. Traveling from Minnesota, Gary Good was on hand to serve as the official photographer while Tina Potts kept the spectators entertained during the long delays while the horses were being inspected. Bert Cheek served as ringmaster and announcer Bob Reavis kept everyone apprised of the current classes. Jim Queen was on hand in the event of cast shoes.

The Saturday evening performance had the least number of entries with only 20 horses showing back in 15 classes. Cargo’s Royal Impression and Adam Carlyon were named Walking Horse Champions after claiming a reserve in the Men’s Amateur class on Friday night.

A local 4-H group, The Stars & Steeds presented our nations’s colors during the opening ceremony on Saturday night and gave a great exhibition as well. This group included 12 riders ranging in age from 7 to 17, dressed in star spangled attire, performed patterns to patriotic music. The exhibition in itself was worth the trip to the show. Show chairman Karen Skopec said, "It’s too bad more people weren’t here to support these kids, they work really hard.”

The Thursday evening performance was delayed due to severe thunderstorms and heavy rain, physically dampening the already tense spirits of the trainers, exhibitors and show management. Curt Caldwell and Spun Magic received the first blue ribbon of the show in the Two-Year-Old Mares & Gelding class for owner Leland McDougal. Caretaker’s Image received his first of five blues of the show in the Park Pleasure Two-Gait class with Brad Nichols riding for Campbell Ford-Mercury. Weston Hetland and Major Monkey Business claimed top honors in the Walking Pony class for grandparents Deborah and Truman Volkart.

Jerry Manes made Richard and Sarah Mitch proud as they exited the ring with the blue on Diamonds & Cash in the Aged Mare and Gelding class. The Men’s Amateur Specialty class was the largest class of the show with seven entries. On the Rise and Matt McWilliams rose to the top in this good class under the direction of Curt Caldwell Stables. HAWHA President Dr. Glenn DeGraffenreid rode hard for the reserve finish on Magic Impression. Making a good show was the flashy Pusher’s Lady On The Loose and Mike Maack in the Three-Year-Old Mare and Gelding class for owner Carol Middleton. Kyndra Foster proved the sky is the limit with her ride on The Sky King in the Open Amateur class for mom Sherry Roberts. Eclectic and Brian Nichols were reserve winners.

Dixie To Motown won his first of two blues in the Open Specialty class with Jerry Manes for daughter Jerra Williams. Dixie’s second win came on Saturday night with sister Sarah Manes at the reins in the Trainer’s Family class. Hydro Generator won the Four-Year-Old class with owner and trainer Jim Huffman in the irons. Shaker’s Mr. Threat entered the ring in the Lite-Shod Two-Gait class to prove his dominance in this division. He took home a total of five blues for owner Georgia Swicegood. Mike Maack keeps this fine team prepared for competition. Cash’s Midnight Sun and Steve Skopec received the reserve.

Ladies Specialty class brought out two fine riders with Glenda Nichols and Kyndra Foster. Glenda presented her mare Dixie Jubilee and came out on top for Mrs. Glen Campbell, while Tim Samons had The Generator’s Legend tuned in for Foster’s good ride in the reserve spot for owner Joe Rozman. Curt Caldwell did a fine job in presenting the bay stallion Jubilee’s Image in the Aged Walking Stallion class for owner Matt McWilliams.

Exhibitors and spectators returned on Friday evening to much better weather, but despite the sunshine the number of entries only improved slightly to 32. The well-matched team of John Deere, Lindsey Mott and Everett Clamp started out the night with a win in the Lead Line class. Megan Villhard made a good catch ride in the Juvenile 11 and Under class on Coin’s Smooth Operator for Mrs. Glen Campbell. Walking Away With Silver and Dustin Koorzaan claimed the blue in the Three-Year-Old Amateur class under the banner of Phillip Curlee. Poison Oak and James Findley made the trip from Russellville Arkansas to impress the crowd with his way of walking and walked away with the blue in the Four-Year-Old Amateur Specialty class.

Kyndra Foster and The Generator’s Legend made another good ride in the 15.2 & Under class with A Twist of Gen and Ronnie Bruton fast on her heels for the reserve tie. Brian Nichols and Eclectic took home the halter and Men’s Amateur title. The reserve tie went to Cargo’s Royal Impression and Adam Carlyon. Bossanova and Abby Curlee won the Amateur Show Pleasure Specialty class with Stephen Ayers and Colonel Parker making the reserve ride. Glenda Nichols and Dixie Jubilee won the judges decision in the Amateur Owned and Trained Specialty class. Tim Plafcan took the reserve ribbon home to Arlington Texas with Watch Me Cash. Kyndra Foster was back to claim her second win of the evening. This time with Shiney Carbon Copy in the Amateur Park Pleasure Three-Gait class for Dorothy Heiney. Making the quick change, she returned in the next class with The Sky King to claim the Ladies Amateur title for Sherry Roberts. Tim Samons deserves the credit for getting these entries to the show ring for the Rocky Ridge Stables.

The Saturday afternoon classes had the highest number of entries with 42. Shaker’s Mr. Threat and Ross Maack were undefeated in Juvenile competition for Georgia Swicegood. Memory Of Shadow won his first of two blues for the day starting with the Lite-Shod Three-Gait with Eldonna Wieberg riding for son Travis Wieberg. Three-Year-Old and Under Lite-Shod Two-Gait was claimed by Anne Hardin and Stride’s Secret Finale for Mr. and Mrs. Paul Schroer. Three-Year-Old and Under Park Pleasure contender American Revolution won the judge’s nod of approval under the direction of Stephen Ayers. JJ’s American Buck and Cherie Teaford won their first of three classes for the day with the Amateur Owned and Trained Lite-Shod class for husband Jay Teaford.

The loose moving Doc’s Classic Storm was deemed the winner of the Yearling class with Anne Hardin at the lead for Mr. and Mrs. Paul Schroer. Shiney’s Powerful Threat proved he is a powerful threat in the Pleasure Performance division with Tim Samons in the irons for owner Dorothy Heiney. Cheyenne Jones was certainly the crowd favorite in the Trail class proving that her hours in the saddle with Long Boogie Nights paid off. Sherry Roberts was proud of her fellows. Crown of Splendor and Harold Roberts took the blue home to Van Buren Missouri with the win in the Western Park Pleasure Two-Gait class.

Saturday evening performances are generally the most highly anticipated of any show, this was not the case with only the 20 entries for the final session and Stake classes. Although lacking in quantity, the quality of this fine breed was evident. Phillip Curlee started off the evening with a win in the Open Model class with Coin’s Spyderman. The looks and conformation of this black stallion are impeccable. Shaker’s Mr. Threat and Mike Maack once again found the winner’s circle, this time winning the Lite-Shod Two-Gait Stake. She’s High Tech and Caroline Siegal claimed the reserve spot.

Kyndra Foster proved her versatility with a win in the Park Pleasure Two-Gait Stake with the sharp-eared Crown Of Splendor. Phillip Curlee returned with Bossanova to win the Open Show Pleasure Specialty. The call for the Amateur Specialty Stake brought out the largest class of the night -- four entries. The Generator’s Legend and Kyndra Foster once again proved to be the unbeatable pair this week-end. Dixie Jubilee and Glenda Nichols were named Reserve Champions.

Always creating comments and bringing some much-needed humor to the show was the Costume class. The sweet southern belle Cherie Teaford and JJ’s American Buck received the top tie in this class.

An additional highlight of the show was the raffle. The Winner’s Circle was generously thanked for their donation of a saddle and their presence at the show for keeping everyone’s tack needs supplied as well as 1,000 pounds of feed donated by Cogstills Feeds in Rogersville. Complete results follow and may also be found by visiting our web site at