By Mark McGee

Fans in “The Big Oval” Friday at the 83rd annual Tennessee Walking Horse  National Celebration were welcomed to another evening of clear skies and pleasant breezes with the versatility of the breed on display from fine harness to English Park Pleasure to Three-Year-Old Stallions entering the ring.

When Ronnie Spears and the flag horse White Diamond Dollar, entered the ring announcer Mark Farrar reminded everyone of the losses by our military in Afghanistan adding even deeper significance, to this time-honored tradition.

With eight of 10 entries set for the Owner-Amateur Ladies Fine Harness class, a decision was made to split the class into two divisions of four competitors each for a 15-class schedule.

In a glittering performance, Par Three and Amber Zahnd from Jonesborough, Tennessee, unanimously drove to the world championship. It was the third blue of the show season for the two. JFK’s Specialist was driven to reserve by Kasie Caldwell for Brenda Bell, while Miss Dixie Carter was third with Taylor Walters.

The B division of the world championship was captured by Alex Blackburn and LT. Horatio Caine for Stacy Blackburn of Franklin, Tennessee. This was their first blue of the year. Pushing JFK All Over was second with Carol Missildine directing for owner Denny Russell. Gun Runner THF and Vicki Pedigo Watkins carried home a yellow streamer for Pedigo and Watkins. 

Brent Grider was the call judge as 11 of the 15 scheduled entries made the gate call for the Owner-Amateur Youth 6-11 Geldings class. The Dixie Label and Khloe Aymett McSwain from Shelbyville, Tennessee and Alpharetta, Georgia, were the unanimous choice for the world championship. The duo is undefeated in four shows in 2021. It’s The Medalist took reserve with Eli Cunningham aboard for James and Melissa Wilson and Brittany Cunningham. Willie Twilight placed third with Cale McAllister in the saddle for Tripp McAllister.

Nine of the 17 horses entered were in the ring for the 15.2 & Under Mares & Geldings class with David Sisk serving as the call judge. TN Lineman was ridden to the world championship by Mickey McCormick for Chester Marbry of Shelbyville, Tennessee. It was the third top finish in a row for the TN Lineman and fourth of 2021 with either McCormick or Debbie Marbry aboard. Pappy Van Winkle and John Allan Callaway brought out a red ribbon for owners Bruce and Kim Butler. The Longmire won the third award with Tyler Baucom in the saddle for Dee Broom Yoder.

The Owner-Amateur 70 & Over class welcomed 15 of the scheduled 23 entries to the ring for call judge Dale Watts. Dr. Jim Baum and Maroon 5 won the world championship for the second year in a row for owner Luke Baum of Shelbyville, Tennessee. They are three-for-three this season in blues. I’m The Alamo and Lynn Hickok took home a red streamer for Ridgemont Farms, while YS Fly Like An Eagle tied third with Ben Moss.

The English Lite-Shod class drew two of the four listed entries. Moonshine At Midnight and Patrick Thomas were awarded the world championship for Gladney Farms of Homer, Louisiana. It was the third blue of the year for Moonshine At Midnight. She’s Charlie’s Girl and Jeff Laughlin were reserve for Nancy Evans and Jocelyn Laughlin.

When the gate closed on the next class, 12 of 19 programmed entries were ready for call judge Derek Bonner in Division A of the Three-Year-Old Stallions class. Switchblade FSS was glistening sharp winning the world championship unanimously with Jimmy McConnell in the irons for owners LaRue, Ann and Bart McWaters of Shelbyville, Tennessee and Ashford, Alabama. It was their third blue in four shows for 2021. Honor And Salute was reserve with Tyler Baucom riding for Kerry DeArmond. Zorro, Jr. brought home a yellow streamer with John Allan Callaway in the irons for Beth Beasley.

A total of 15 entries came to the ring in the Owner-Amateur Five & Under Park Performance class where David Sisk served as the call judge. Draw A Line and Jannie Chapman from Owens Cross Roads, Alabama, took home the world title. It was the third straight blue for Draw A Line this show season, the first with Chapman aboard. One Special Poison earned a second place for Lisa Shockey. He’s Little Big Town and Bobby White received a yellow streamer. 

As in division A, 12 of the 19 programmed entries competed in division B of the Three-Year-Old Stallions class. It was another extremely competitive class with Brent Grider serving as the call judge. Kobe 24 and Chris Helton scored the world championship for Jimbo Conner from Sevierville, Tennessee. The team is unbeaten in four shows in 2021. Boon’s Gin was reserve with Sam Martin aboard for Mike Floyd. The Great I Am tied third with Hayden Burks in the saddle for the Mark Ricker Family.

The Owner-Amateur Four-Year-Old Stallions class saw only eight of the 22 original entries compete with Dale Watts serving as call judge. Jimbo Conner, this time as a co-owner, won his second world championship for the evening with Smoky Mountain Strong and co-owner Lexie Stinnett aboard as the unanimous selection of the judges. They are a perfect four-for-four in blues in 2021. I Am Fearless tied reserve with Janice Fostek riding for Joe Fostek. The Comanche received third with Benjamin Bowen in the irons for Larry and Pam Russell.

The Owner-Amateur Novice Ladies on Stallions class featured 14 of 17 entries making the gate call. Chris Bobo was the call judge. All About Jose and Jackie Whatley from Ocala, Florida, won their first ever Celebration world championship. They have won six consecutive blues this season. Master’s Cool Jazz and Glenda Nichols tied reserve. Magic’s Pure Ritz, a “classic” horse, and Lisa McMahan walked away with third place ribbon.

The gate was closed for the Four-Year-Old Mares & Geldings (Canter) class with seven of the nine entries listed in the program competing. Derek Bonner called the class. A Dixie General commanded the class winning the world championship with Bill Callaway riding for Laura Mauney of Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Jose’s Witchy Woman was reserve with Michael Wright on board for Sammy and Gayle Cagle. Wilma L J placed third with Casey Wright in the saddle for Sam McDaniel.

The Owner-Amateur English Park Pleasure class welcomed six of 14 entries. I Walk The Walk walked to the world championship with Carol Missildine in the saddle Russell Enterprises and Carol Missildine. Both owners are from Smithfield, North Carolina. They are two-for-two this season. Jose’s No Counting Me Out claimed second with John Gladney up for Gladney Farms. Custom Chrome JB shined bright enough for a third-place tie with Savannah Upchurch.

The Owner-Amateur Ladies on Mares class featured nine of 13 original entries for call judge David Sisk. She’s Limitless and Molly Walters earned the unanimous world championship tie for owner Kelsey Andrews of Rancho Mirage, California. They are now five-for-five this season. Hot Dollar carried away a red streamer with Stephanie Cagle aboard for Carly Cagle. Gotcha Jose’ earned the yellow ribbon with Dr. Brittany Baum riding for Jacob Baum.

The final class of the night featured Show Pleasure Mares & Geldings. Thirteen of 22 slated entries entered the big oval with 12 staying for final judging. Georgia Florida Line and Knox Blackburn won the world championship for Bruce and Robin MacDonald from Shelbyville, Tennessee. It is the third blue in a row for Georgia Florida Line and the fifth of 2021. Walkin’ Chick and Mickey McCormick walked away with a red ribbon for Nora Alexander. He’s Primetime tied third with Clay Anderson in the irons for Ridgemont Farm.