The WHOA/TWHBEA Academy Championship

The Culmination of a Very Successful Season



by Mark Taylor

photos by Linda Scrivner


            SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - The 2008 WHOA/TWHBEA Academy Championship Show was held at the Calsonic Arena on Saturday, March 22. One hundred eighty-five entries answered the gate call, which is a record number of entries. The show brought to conclusion a very successful academy program season that was made up of shows across Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina. Participation for 2008 has been phenomenal with many shows having over double the entries from previous years. What a testament to this program and to the unity within the industry.

            The championship show began at 10 a.m. with Steve Barbour singing the national anthem. Mark Farrar was the announcer and Brian Peery and his magic fingers provided the music. Shane Shiflet captured memories with his camera. The daunting job of judging these fine riders went to the three-judge panel of Bob Cherry, Connie Waldo and Kathy Zeis. Mary Helen Martin also served as an apprentice judge. Cherry, Waldo, and Zeis donated their judging fees to the TWHBEA, which was much appreciated.

            WHOA and TWHBEA want to thank the sponsors of the 2008 Academy Program: Diamond Sponsor- Deborah L. Williams Architecture, LP, Silver Sponsors- WHOA and TWHBEA, Bronze Sponsors- Waterfall Farms, S&S Buggies and Midland Farms. The 2008 Academy ribbon sponsors were Backward S Ranch and Floyd and Beverly Sherman.

            TWHBEA and WHOA send a very special thank you to those who helped at the Calsonic Arena with the championship show: Tommy Hall and Mark Taylor with WHOA; Lori Pucket with TWHBEA; Harolene Willis, WHOA Academy Chairperson; David Pruett, Patsy Newberry, Denise Rowland, Diane McMurtrey, Brenda Skelton, Gwen Skelton Williams and Adam Hensley. They also send out a special thank you to the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association for hosting the Academy Championships each year.

            A lot of hard work by the instructors and their students made this a banner year for the Academy Program. The enthusiasm and love of the Tennessee Walking Horse is evident in every smile and step they take. THWBEA and WHOA look forward to 2009 being even more successful as they all work together toward the common goal of promoting the greatest horse in the world, the Tennessee Walking Horse!

            For more information on the Academy Program go to or