BELL BUCKLE, Tenn. – As the year draws to a close, walking horse enthusiasts travel from near and far to mix and mingle at the annual Walking Horse Trainers' Association Banquet. For the past several years the event has been held at the Bell Buckle Banquet Hall, which this year was beautifully decorated in gorgeous holiday flare sponsored by the Keith McSwain family and Honors. Normally the first weekend in December, this year the banquet and annual meets was moved back to the 16th of December.


Mark Farrar once again was happy to serve as emcee for the night and handle all the announcing duties, and in his usual fashion, he kept the crowd fully entertained. Starting out the evening, Farrar took a moment to recognize several organizations that play major roles in the walking horse industry.


TWHBEA President David Williams and WHTA President Billy Young joined forces to present Beth and Ronnie Reed with a “Friends of the Walking Horse” honor for their contributions to those affected by the fires in Gatlinburg. Beth and Ronnie took it upon themselves to organize feed, hay and other equine necessities for those in need. They have made several trips to the area already with the donations, and in fact were leaving right after the banquet to take another load.


Marcia Allison, WHTA Secretary, was presented with a token of appreciation for her 25 years of service to the association.


For the second ever Living Legend Achievement Award, Bill and Dee Cantrell were brought to the stage for a great presentation for their contributions to the industry and the Walking Horse Trainers Association.


The 2016 Scholarship winners were acknowledged next. The Glenn C. Dowell Jr. family proudly sponsors the scholarships and this year marked their sixth year in doing so. This year’s recipients were Tanner Burks, Rebekah Kellett, Ashley Latham and Brian Barnes, Jr.


Larry Edwards was called to the stage next to be presented with his green blazer this is embroidered with the Celebration logo and the two years he has won the world grand championship. The blazer is donated by Frank and Shirley Neal in honor of 1992 World Grand Champion Dark Spirit’s Rebel. This tradition was started in 1995.


The auxiliary awards were the next presentations to be made by Susan Coleman.


The auxiliary equitation awards were first. Topping the Equitation 11 & Under category was Corbin Parker earning the gold award, followed by Taylor Williams with the silver award and Addie Harris with the bronze. Mia Thomas topped the next category and earned the Equitation Youth 12-14 gold award, with Anna Rosati picking up the silver award and Sammie Duray earning the bronze award. The gold award in the Equitation Youth 15-17 category went to Kaitlyn Rippy. The silver award was earned by Kallie Attig, followed by Langstone Harvey earning the bronze award. Allison Thorson claimed the Adult Equitation gold award, followed by Carmen Vaughn with the silver award and Morgan Murphy with the bronze.


The High Point Member of the Year honors go to an individual member who has accumulated the most points throughout the year in Auxiliary classes. The first place, gold honor, went to Christy Mauney. Second place with the silver award went to Candy Green. Kelly Mills and Dru McCormick tied for third with the bronze award.


Kelly Mills was presented with the Celebration award for capturing the world championship title aboard Mr. Heisman for the second year in a row.


The auxiliary Rookie of the Year honor went to Billie Shelton. Sarah Smith was voted as the Auxiliary Member of the Year.


Next, Edgar Abernathy and Hannah Myatt were separately called to the stage where John Allan Callaway presented them each with an award to recognize their 2016 Performance and Pleasure Trainer of the Year honor.


The Assistant Trainer of the Year category was also split this year into performance and pleasure. R.M. Kellett of Spencer Benedict Stables was honored as this year’s performance assistant trainer of the year recipient. The pleasure assistant trainer of the year title for 2016 was presented to Crystal Deputy of Dickie Gardner Stables.


Bill Callaway, chairman of the Riders’ Cup board, was next to come to the stage to present the Riders' Cup awards to both winning trainers and horses. Since it's inception in 2005, the Riders' Cup program has paid out close to $840,000 to dedicated trainers who continue to bring top horses to shows all across the country.


For the first time ever, the Riders’ Cup Performance Championship goes to a woman. That woman is none other than Blaise Broccard! At the start of this year, Blaise and the Abernathy Stables team made the decision to push hard all season long and land at the top of the performance division. Close to the top of the leader board right at the beginning of the year, Blaise topped the charts the first part of May and never looked back. Blaise showed in 158 classes at shows all across the Southeast. For her hard work, determination and dedication to the Walking Horse industry, we are pleased to present Blaise with a check in the amount of $13,485.29.


For the third year in a row, the 2016 Riders’ Cup Pleasure Division Overall honor goes to Jeff Laughlin. He snagged the top spot on the list right out of the gates this season and has never let go. He entered the ring a total of 60 times traveling to shows in five different states to claim the title. For his efforts, determination and persistence, we are pleased to present Jeff with a check in the amount of $4,794.20.


Next the Riders’ Cup divisional sponsors were brought to the stage for a presentation where they were presented with a plaque as a token of appreciation, as well as to applaud them for their generous support. Without each and them, this program would not have been possible. The Two-Year-Old Open division was sponsored by the Andrew Waites family for the seventh year in a row. Quality Exteriors pledged their sponsorship of the Three-Year-Old Open division for the fourth year. Once again the Molly Walters family sponsored both the Four-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division and the Four-Year-Old Open division. They have been a consistent part of the program since 2008. Once again the 15.2 & Under division was sponsored by the Walking Horse Association of Alabama, while the Celebration was the sponsor for the Stake division for the seventh year. Keith & Lorraine Rosbury/Gen’s Black Maverick are in their sixth year as sponsors of the Two-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. Sponsoring the Three-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division for their third year was the Mississippi Charity Horse Show, which allowed the Mississippi Charity to be a triple-point show. The Christmas In July and Walking For The Angels Horse Shows were back for their second year sponsoring the Aged Mare & Gelding division. Winner’s Circle was happy to again sponsor the Open Specialty division. The Columbia Spring Jubilee Horse Show was happy aid with the Open Show Pleasure division for their second year. The Park Performance division was again sponsored by Windermere Farms & Dirty Sexy Money. Along with our many long-standing division sponsors, we added The Harold Roberts family as a new sponsor for the year in the performance division. They graciously sponsored the Young Trainers/Experienced Trainers division. Circle T Stables once again pledged their sponsorship of the Lite-Shod division. The Anthony Joseph family was back as the sponsor of the Park Pleasure division. The Four & Under Trail Pleasure division was sponsored Kyle Bush, while Blackwater Stables stepped in with the sponsorship for a new Model division. Joe Lester Stables and Maggie Moore joined together to sponsor the new Four & Under Lite-Shod division, while the Western Park Pleasure was happily sponsored by Rise To Fame.

Next, awards were presented to the winners in each Riders' Cup category. French Gin won the Two-Year-Old Open title. He was shown by Ernest Upton in nine Riders' Cup classes this season for owners Tommy McGee and Carol Dickerson. The pair captured seven wins, including a world championship to amass their point total. It’s High Maintenance, owned by Sister Milligan, won the Three-Year-Old Open division. He was shown in Riders' Cup classes by Charlie Green seven times this season. They walked away with a win to close out the season at the Walking For The Angels show. Last season Starting Lineman won the Three-Year-Old Open title. This year, along with Brad Beard, Starting Lineman captured the Four-Year-Old Open title for Mark Walling. He was shown in 11 Riders' Cup classes netting four wins. Crowd favorite, Mr. Heisman topped the 15.2 & Under division this year. Brandye Mills and Mr. Heisman showed four times in Riders' Cup classes and earned four victory passes for an undefeated season. Highlighting their season was their 15.2 & Under World Championship for proud owners Randall and Sadie Baskin. Reservation On Line won the Stake division. He was shown in a total of 12 Riders’ Cup classes this season by Winky Groover. Grand championship wins for the pair came at the Belfast-TWHBEA Lions Club and FAST Spring Showcase shows. Aruba Skyline topped the Two-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division for owner Erin O’Callaghan. Philip Trimble and Aruba Skyline showed seven times in Riders' Cup classes in 2016, walking away with a reserve world championship and a win at the Tunica Fall Classic. Last season Gin And Salsa won the Two-Year-Old Mare & Gelding title. This year, along with Blaise Broccard, Gin And Salsa captured the Four-Year-Old Open title for Sherry Roberts. Broccard showed in Riders' Cup classes this year a total of 13 times netting wins at the Savannah Lions Club and Cajun Classic shows. Color Coded CF topped the Four-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. Casey Wright and Color Coded showed three times in Riders' Cup classes in 2016. Their season was highlighted with a win at the Spring Fun Show for owners Mr. and Mrs. Eric Lackey. Last season Nevermore won the Four-Year-Old Mare & Gelding title. Moving into the aged ranks, she has now topped the Aged Mare & Gelding division for owner Dr. Barbara Moersch. John Allan Callaway showed the mare in Riders’ Cup classes this year a total of five times ending in a Tunica Fall Classic win. Once again Nino’s Category Five won the Open Specialty division. He was shown in Riders’ Cup classes by John Allan Callaway five times, earning one world championship, one reserve world grand championship and two other top victories for Dr. Barbara Moersch. Santana’s Storm topped the Show Pleasure division for owners Richard and Sarah Mitch. Blaise Broccard and Santana’s Storm showed 10 times in Riders' Cup classes in 2016 garnering three top wins. He’s Made In The USA once again won the Young Trainers/Experienced Trainers title. She was shown by Bill Callaway in three Riders' Cup classes this season. Wins were earned at the Spring Fun Show and North Carolina Championship for Sheryl Jordan and Roy Wierenga. Moonshine Man won the Park Performance division for Amy Trimble. Moonshine Man and Philip Trimble showed in Riders' Cup classes this year a total of 10 times. Five wins at prestigious industry shows made for successful year for the team. Lil Wayne topped the Lite-Shod division for Jeff Gillespie. Jeff Laughlin and Lil Wayne showed nine times in Riders' Cup classes in 2016. They ended their season with one world championship, one reserve world grand championship and three other blue ribbon victory passes. He’s A Dixieland Delight won the Park Pleasure title. He was shown in 11 Riders' Cup for owner Vickie Penick. Jeff Laughlin was in the irons for 10 of those performances, while Bobby Hugh took to the reins to capture the Two & Three-Year-Old Park Pleasure World Championship. Gen’s Star Of Danger P. won the Classic Park Pleasure division. Patrick Thomas showed Gen’s Star Of Danger P. in Riders' Cup classes three times this year for owner Tony Brewer. Their undefeated season results in wins at the National Trainers’ Show, Spring Fun Show and a world championship victory at The Celebration. Labeled A Parolee won the Miscellaneous Pleasure division for proud owner Lindy Holt. He was undefeated in Riders’ Cup competition this year with two win with Jessica Hlebak. Rockin At The Ritz topped the Four & Under Trail Pleasure division with owner Shelli MeHaffey. The team took to the ring 11 times in Riders’ Cup competition and netted many top ribbons. Mystic Jazz, owned by Rushing Creek Walkers, won the new Model division. She was shown in Riders' Cup classes by Robert Nelms seven times this season. They walked away with three blue ribbon victories and a reserve world championship. Another new division, Four & Under Lite-Shod, was topped by Big Time Bandit. Patrick Thomas and Howard Hamilton shared the reins aboard Big Time Bandit three times in Riders' Cup classes garnering two wins which included the Four & Under Western Lite-Shod World Championship title for Scott and Kim Leonard. Boston Bay topped the new Western Park Pleasure division for owner Jannie Chapman. Jeff Laughlin and Boston Bay showed three times in Riders' Cup classes in 2016, walking away with a win at the Gulf Coast Trainers Show.



2016 WHTA Horse of the Year Winners


Lead Line

Winner: Shake’s Little Midnight

Reserve: Rattle N Snap


Two-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding

Winner: Airborne Hero

Reserve: Molly Lou Melon



Winner: Miss Belle Starr W.

Reserve: Win Lose Or Draw


Two-Year-Old Amateur Stallion

Winner: A Classic Action

Reserve: Knock Down Drag Out



Winner: Marcus Mariota

Reserve: US Polamalu


Two-Year-Old Mare or Gelding

Winner: Hey Good Looking

Reserve: Airborne Hero


Lite-Shod Specialty

Winner: Roscoe Jenkins

Reserve: La Patrona


Two-Year-Old Stallion

Winner: Jimmy Choo

Reserve: French Gin


Youth Show Pleasure

Winner: Blues For Santana

Reserve: Admission Is A Dollar


Youth Pony

Winner: Rammer Jammer

Reserve: Ricky Ricardo


Trail Pleasure

Winner: Etta James By TJB

Reserve: Honey Badger


Adult Pony

Winner: He’s The Lady’s Man

Reserve: The Dixie Lineman


Country Pleasure

Winner: Eye On The Title

Reserve: Designer Champagne



Winner: Joe Pa

Reserve: All About That Jose’


Three-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding

Winner: Miss Dixie Carter

Reserve: Hello Bombshell


Elite (50 Yrs. & Over)

Winner: Unreal

Reserve: Command On Parole


Three-Year-Old Amateur Stallion

Winner: Maroon 5

Reserve: Hey Tomcat


Western Lite-Shod

Winner: Double Shot Of Cash

Reserve: Lucky Daze


Three-Year-Old Mare or Gelding

Winner: She’s Busted In Tijuana

Reserve: Extra Special Jose


Western Park Pleasure

Winner: Rise To Fame

Reserve: The Red Falcon


Three-Year-Old Stallion

Winner: A Pink Floyd

Reserve: Hey Tomcat


Fine Harness

Winner: In Ted’s Image

Reserve: Masati



Winner: Ritz Entourage

Reserve: Braddock


Ladies Amateur Specialty

Winner: Jose’ Miss Dolly

Reserve: Gin Toddy


Men’s Amateur Specialty

Winner: Unreal

Reserve: I Am Biscayne Bay


Amateur Canter

Winner: I’m Mayhem

Reserve: Led Zeppelin


Juvenile Park Pleasure

Winner: B B King’s Jazz

Reserve: High Headed Lady Y.F.


Four-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding

Winner: Be My Baby

Reserve: This Is Jazz


Four-Year-Old Amateur Stallion

Winner: Mr. Trump

Reserve: A King Thing


Amateur Park Pleasure

Winner: Lined Up At The Ritz

Reserve: B B King’s Jazz


Four-Year-Old Mare or Gelding

Winner: Godiva

Reserve: Be My Baby


Professional Park Pleasure

Winner: B B King’s Jazz

Reserve: Top Recruit


Four-Year-Old Stallion

Winner: Marty McFly

Reserve: Jose Cold Chills


Amateur Park Performance

Winner: Ain’t He Grande

Reserve: Drop A Line


Amateur Show Pleasure

Winner: He’s Starbucks

Reserve: I’m Moonlighting


Professional Park Performance

Winner: We’re Jammin The Blues

Reserve: Moonshine Man


Five-Year-Old Amateur Stallion

Winner: Mr. Country Gentleman

Reserve: Popcorn Sutton


Juvenile 11 & Under

Winner: Blue Ray

Reserve: Inception


Professional Show Pleasure

Winner: He’s Starbucks

Reserve: Turnbow


Five-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding

Winner: The Semper Fi

Reserve: Wired And Lined


15.2 & Under Amateur Mare or Gelding

Winner: Gin Toddy

Reserve: I’m Stan The Man


Juvenile 12-17

Winner: Zeta

Reserve: Jose’s Delightful Pusher


15.2 & Under Amateur Stallion

Winner: Pro V 1

Reserve: Lined Walkin’


Amateur Specialty

Winner: A Bruce Pearl

Reserve: Led Zeppelin



Winner: Victory Trip

Reserve: Honey Badger


15.2 & Under Mare or Gelding

Winner: An American Threat

Reserve: A Bit Of Change


15.2 & Under Stallion

Winner: Mr. Heisman

Reserve: A Strong Need For Cash


One-Night Horse Show

Winner: Money Tree Classic

Reserve: Marshall County Horseman’s Association


Multi-Night Horse Show

Winner: North Carolina Championship

Reserve: Tunica Fall Classic


15.2 & Over Mare or Gelding

Winner: Nevermore

Reserve: I’m Deuce


15.2 & Over Stallion

Winner: Honors

Reserve: Gen’s Black Maverick