Posted May 4, 2001

by Christy Howard Parsons and Mark Davis

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. - A record 715 entries from across the country and a whopping audience of 20,000 plus convened on Panama City Beach, Fla., to celebrate the Tennessee Walking Horse at the third annual Gulf Coast Horse Show and Festival. Horse show manager Martha “Sister” Blackmon Milligan delivered on her promise to bring even more prize money, more exposure via radio and television advertising and national television coverage of Saturday night’s festivities, and more entertainment to what has quickly become a “must” for walking horse enthusiasts on the spring show schedule.

"We just want to thank everyone for coming. It was great. We tried hard to please everyone, we know there are some things we can do better and we try each year to improve upon the year before," said Milligan. "We want constructive criticism on what we can do better. We will be moving to a new facility next year and I can tell you there will be a new and improved track," Milligan promised.

"Overall we were thrilled. The competition was fabulous. The cable television coverage was such an accomplishment this year. We are just pleased that so many people thought enough of us to come to our show," Milligan explained. Mother Nature did her part as well to make for a fabulous show, bringing beautiful sunny days and crisp, cool nights to the beautiful gulf coast area. The schedule of events included entertainment everyday of the week, from featured restaurants who gladly welcomed horse show visitors to bands each evening after the show to a warm, welcome reception at Tommy and Sister Milligan’s home on Wednesday evening.

At this year’s party, Milligan added a two-year-old calcutta. Each horse which was entered to show in the Two-Year-Old Stallion class and the Two-Year-Old Mares and Geldings class was auctioned off to the highest bidder. The top three places in each of these open classes took home their share of the prize money with the balance going to charity. The auction of the two classes brought in $10,200 in total. Dr. Andrew Sisk headed a group which purchased Arthur Gordon’s two-year-old stud Simply Thrilling for $1800. Kathy Potter and her partners paid $1700 for Darwin Oordt’s The Total Score and turned a quick profit, when he won the class on Friday evening. Mike and Karen Inman's Driving Miss Dumas topped the calcutta for the mares and geldings and brought home the prize money on Saturday night, proving that the bidding was keen with the top horses bringing the top money.

The show began on Thursday evening with DQPs Bob Flynn, Andy Messick and Harry Schaeffin working the show. They were joined by the USDA VMOs Dr. Lynn Bourgeois and Dr. Tom Callahan. Steve Fuller, USDA Investigator and R.R. Ayers from Vet Services with the USDA were also on site. NHSC DQP Coordinator Lonnie Messick reported that of the 663 horses which were inspected there were 15 violations recorded by the NHSC [1 six point violation, 4 seven point violations, 6 unilateral sore violations, 1 pre show scar rule violation, 2 post show scar rule violations and 1 high band]. No information was taken by the USDA for federal cases.

"This was one of the best shows I personally have worked with the USDA," Lonnie Messick explained. "The way the Operating Plan is structured to work was the way it worked at this show. The VMOs allowed us to inspect the horses and they checked us. The VMOs did review the second and third places horses following each class and they only referred two of those horses back to the DQPs for review."

"Our communication between the DQPs and the VMOs was outstanding. They did not reinspect the horses we wrote tickets on, and there were very few horses they asked us to doublecheck. We worked very closely together," said Messick.

When asked about rumors regarding VMOs looking in stalls during the day on Saturday, Messick explained. "The VMOs did walk the showgrounds on Saturday in response to a complaint. That evening, they asked us to ask one trainer to bring a horse up for inspection. That trainer complied and the VMOs asked DQP Bob Flynn to check the horse. The horse was in good condition, no violations were found, and the horse went on to show later in the evening [after being checked again in compliance with the normal inspection procedures]."

Rollie Beard, Gene Carswell and Ty Irby officiated the three day show with 23 of 51 classes being decided with a unanimous decision. In their final consensus, the judges worked six horses for the Walking Horse Championship title. Together they picked Pusher’s High Voltage to wear the roses. Mickey McCormick trains this former Three-Year-Old World Grand Champion for Becky Hicks. This duo made an outstanding trip to earn the unanimous decision, besting a field of six.

Rodney Dick and the Twin Hills Training Facility topped the blue ribbon count with five titles, three of those going to the Keith Baker family. Three-Year-Old World Grand Champion Shout earned two of those blues with unanimous decisions, first with Brooke in the irons in the Amateur Four-Year-Old Mares and Geldings and on Saturday with Dick in the irons. Dick and Shout earned Three-Year-Old Gulf Coast honors last year and they returned this year to win the Four-Year-Old Mares and Geldings Specialty class. Matriarch of the Baker clan, Sandy Baker was cheered on by friends and family alike as she earned the winning tie in the Amateur Mares Specialty class aboard Major Splash. This World Champion made a victory pass at Florida last year as well, but somehow it seemed extra special with Sandy in the saddle.

World Grand Champion and Amateur 15.2 & Under Horse of the Year, Gen’s Color Me In continued his domination of the division adding another Florida win to his resume. Repeating last year’s win, Dick and Color Me In bested the Mares and Geldings, 15.2 & Under, Five-Year-Old & Under with a unanimous decision for the Rick Trumble family.

Two-Year-Old World Champion Kissed by JFK started the year off right with a win in the Three-Year-Old Mares and Geldings class for Debbie Fly with Dick in the saddle.

Four stables earned four blue ribbons a piece. Randall and Gloria Dixon’s Red Eagle Farm, Knox Blackburn Stables, Baucom Stables and Groover Stables each took home quadruple honors for their grateful customers.

Red Eagle Farm and Willie “Flip” Cook, Jr., had the pleasure horse mounts looking good in the deep track. World Grand Champion Strike It Rich earned a unanimous decision to top the Western Park Pleasure Specialty class with Joe Dixon in the irons. Starstruck by JFK won two blues at Florida last year and returned in 2001 to earn two blues again - in the Plantation Lite Shod Open class and in the Lite Shod Championship, each time with Willie Cook, Jr. In the irons. Cook also directed Lit Up’s Double Time to the winner’s circle, a trip he made two times in 2000 as well, to earn the unanimous decision in the Park Pleasure Championship.

Knox Blackburn began the week earning back to back blues. Kathy Graves directed Silver $ Make Me Holler to the winner’s circle for the Jerry Graves Family in the Amateur Three-Year-Old Stallion competition. Just before that, Knox rode Show Pleasure Horse of the Year Coin Maker to the unanimous Show Pleasure Horse Specialty title for the Paul Bryan family. This World Grand Champion has been hard to beat in the Show Pleasure division, and Bud Moore liked what he saw on Thursday evening. So much so, that he bought the horse on Saturday morning for his fiancee Suzanne Littell, and with guidance from Blackburn on the rail, the new pair earned a unanimous trip down victory lane.

Mr. and Mrs. Pete Hammond were also pleased with their trainer when Blackburn topped the Three-Year-Old Stallion Extravaganza, an added money class for the three-year-old competitors, aboard Busting With Terror. Fresh off wins at the North Carolina Spring Show and the South Carolina Ladies Auxiliary, the Baucom Stables crowd came ready for competition. World Grand Champion and Four-Year-Old Amateur Horse of the Year, Olympic’s Energizer and Becky May were in top form to earn the unanimous decision in the Amateur Stallions, 15.2 and Under Specialty class. This team started their year with a win at the South Carolina Ladies Auxiliary and look ready for the older age group.

Also ready for the older competition, Four-Year-Old World Grand Champion and Horse of the Year, Electrifying was just that with owner Dona Griffin in the irons. The team won the Four-Year-Old Amateur competition in Florida last year, and this year they graduated to the Amateur Specialty Championship with a flawless performance and a unanimous decision.

Fresh off a win from the North Carolina Spring Show, Beam’s Rapid Express, an entry owned by Ginger Houchins, earned a unanimous victory in the Mares and Geldings, Five Years Old and Over, Specialty class with Jeanette Baucom in the irons. Rhonda Warren directed her Cameo Cash to the unanimous decision in the Amateur Two-Year-Old Mares and Geldings competition, their second win this season as well.

The Groover Stables took home four blue ribbons as well as the top money in the Two-Year-Old calcutta. Darwin Oordt’s two-year-old The Total Score impressed many at the Murfreesboro Spring Show with his win, so the bidding was active on Wednesday night’s auction. But hopes were high when on Thursday evening Oordt directed the youngster to the winner’s circle in the Amateur Two-Year-Old competition. The team of successful calcutta bidders: Kathy Potter, Pam and Stuart Gibbs and Darwin Oordt then turned a profit when Mike “Mad Dog” Thomas stepped into the irons and collected their due with a win in the Two-Year-Old Stallion competition on Friday night.

Granddaughter Danielle Collier, in her second show aboard Pride’s Smokin Memory, collected the blue ribbon in the 11 & Under Amateur Mares or Geldings Specialty competition for McWilliams Realty. Grandmother Heidi McWilliams beamed as she congratulated Danielle on an outstanding ride.

It was a happy reunion for Don and Lucky Collins and they celebrated in blue ribbon style. Lucky guided Pushover & Lookout to the winners circle with her typical finesse in the Amateur Five-Year-Old and Over class.

Allan Callaway Stables had an outstanding show as well in Florida with a trio of blue ribbons. World Grand Champion Capone and owner Mike Hooper were on their game to top the Amateur Four-Year-Old Stallion Specialty class. Mary Louise LeBlanc was railside to watch Callaway direct her Ample Cash to the 15.2 & Under Stallions title for the LeBlanc Enterprises. Beverly Greenup was similarly all smiles when Callaway took her Ex Dividend to the winners circle in the Four-Year-Old Stallions Specialty class for George and Beverly Greenup.

David Landrum Stables and Dr. and Mrs. Rafael Rigual made a good team in Florida. Fresh off a win in Jackson, Marvin North guided The Lottery to the Specialty Stallions win with a unanimous tie for the Riguals. And the epitome of teamwork came in the first division of the Pro-Am Specialty class. First Pat Rigual entered the ring aboard Brother Splash and worked for the judges. Then the entries lined up, David Landrum stepped into the irons and with Pat Rigual coaching from the ground, Landrum finished up the class. The audience always enjoys this class and the applause came for each of the entries. In fact, interest in the class was so great that the class was split into two divisions.

The second division featured the finely tuned team of Mary Medina and Jimmy McConnell aboard Barracuda. This familiar team was the unanimous winner in their division.

Mickey McCormick in addition to winning the grand finale of the show with Pusher’s High Voltage for Becky Hicks, also took the title in the Juvenile 12-17 Amateur Mares or Geldings competition. Owner Joel Johnson returned to defend his title from last year and emerged with a unanimous victory aboard I’m Cruella DeVil to the delight of his family, Keith, Suzy and Adam Johnson.

Another winning family, John Harney coached both Justin and Jaclyn to the winners circle. Justin Harney repeated his 2000 Gulf Coast win in the Amateur Ponies, Riders 17 & Under competition with a unanimous tie aboard Royal’s Dark Bum. Sister Jaclyn also enjoyed a unanimous decision in the Equitation competition riding Collector’s Hickory. Jaclyn is instructed by Faye Lynn Coffey.

Coffey also enjoyed blue ribbon status herself. She directed A Daring Affair, an entry owned by her parents Bill and Dale Murray, to the win in the Amateur Lite Shod Specialty Four Years and Under competition.

Steve Dunn took two Mike and Karen Inman-owned entries to the winner’s circle. In the first class of the show, Karen Inman rode Generator’s Cashing In to the Amateur Mares and Geldings 15.2 and Under Specialty title. Dunn himself stepped into the irons to take the Two-Year-Old Mares or Geldings title with Driving Miss Dumas.

Howard Hamilton also had two blues with two of his daughters. Jenna Hamilton directed Olympic Angel to the Western Lite-Shod Specialty win for owner Marilyn Friedman. Lauren Hamilton guided Generator’s Evil Lady to the blue in the Amateur Plantation Specialty, Lady and Men Riders class for Hamilton and Lowe, after just having won at the Purchase Area show.

The Blue Ribbon Stables earned two blues with their Beaming Skywatch. Fresh off a win from the National Trainers Show, Doug Barnes directed the talented youngster to the unanimous tie in the Park Pleasure Three-Year-Old and Under competition for Pam and Stuart Gibbs. The talented mount returned with Stuart Gibbs in the saddle to take the Amateur Park Pleasure Specialty Championship.

Russell Keyser also posted two blues on his tack room with Michelle Hodne’s Beam’s Best Bette. Keyser directed for the win in the Plantation Pleasure Lite-Shod Specialty class and Hodne herself directed for the unanimous victory in the Amateur Lite-Shod Specialty class.

Lisa Baum brought home a victory to the Sammy Day Stables with This Generator’s A Lady. The duo won the Amateur Three-Year-Old Mares and Geldings competition for Dr. Jim and Lisa Baum.

Paul Blackburn guided Pusher’s Secret Weapon to the Park Pleasure Open title for Don Carnes. The team returned to capture the reserve ribbon in the championship.

Jill Derickson capped a good week with a win in the Trainers Auxiliary Members Specialty class aboard A Major Masterpiece for the Black Gold Farm.

Fresh off two 2001 wins, the Novice World Grand Champion Silver Express and Lisa Marbry posted another win to their resume in the Amateur Specialty Stallions class. Darrel Walker of White Oak Stables coaches the entry.

Ellen Sale was thrilled when she captured the Amateur Geldings Specialty title aboard Judge’s Verdict. After being told three separate times to put the horse down due to health reasons, Herb and Katherine McJunkin insisted upon his rehabilitation. A reserve finish at the National Trainers Show assured them that this horse had a heart too big to quit, and with a victory in Florida, the McJunkin family knew they had done the right thing. Chad Way coached the team to their emotional victory.

Brandi Todd and Eb’s Black Charger captured the unanimous win in a hard-fought Amateur Owned and Trained Specialty class. The winning trophy went home to the Triple T Investments.

Larry Davis cut his vacation short and flew in to Florida to show his pride and joy, Pushover’s Cashflow. Trainer David Polk had the talented horse in top order, and Davis stepped into the irons to earn the unanimous victory for the Greystone Group.

With a ring full of talented youngsters, Coined by Dollar had to work hard to impress the judges, but then maybe it was the McCloy’s lucky day. Because not only did their Coined by Dollar earn the unanimous victory under the guidance of Billy Thomas, but their entries also captured second and third in the class. Chris Hazlewood led Lady Sand Dollar to the red ribbon and Nathan Mills led I’m Solid Silver to the yellow ribbon finish.

Dick Peebles and The Snowatch turned lots of heads, including the judges’ in the Three-Year-Old Stallion class. This bold-moving stud is owned by the Anthony Joseph family.

The Fine Harness competition was small but striking as two entries made excellent presentations to the Florida audience. Mindy Traylor drove He Keeps On Giving to the unanimous tie for the Bowtie Stables under the watchful eye of B.A. Dorsey.