By Mark Davis


            It’s Thursday morning in Shelbyville and the excitement is really gearing up as the 69th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is really getting underway.

            With a successful Wednesday morning schedule and TWHBEA National Futurity under the belt, it’s time to return to Calsonic Arena for another morning performance that features 13 classes from the Model, Trail Pleasure, Lite Shod, Park Pleasure and Performance divisions giving enough variety to keep any spectator entertained. 

            Promptly at 9 a.m., announcer Mark Farrar, Jr. called the first class of the morning to the big oval, class 11, Model Pleasure Walking Stallions or Geldings.  Fifteen of the 16 expected made their way to the track to show off for the judging panel.  As the entries entered the ring, they were welcomed with cheers and applause from visiting school children from Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Thomas Intermediate School.  Topping the division was the duo of Jennifer Hankins and A Greater Generator, proving they show their style under saddle or halter, since they just captured the Park Pleasure Grand Championship at Murfreesboro, Tenn.’s International Grand Championships, for Leo and Mary Martin of Eldon, Mo.  Last year’s World Champion, Generator’s Icy Hot and Jeff Givens accepted the reserve honors for Jack Heffington of Shelbyville, Tenn.  The Texas Lexus and Tommy Howell rounded out the top three for Emerick & Cook of Hillsborough & Devore, Calif.

            Moving to the under saddle classes, the Thursday morning crowd got in a western frame of mind for class 12A, Owner-Amateur Western Trail Pleasure, Adult Riders.  Twenty of the 23 with reservations beat the clock to work for Judge Ronnie Spears and his cohorts.   Pushing their way right down victory lane, for the second consecutive year, with the approval of the crowd, was Patti Pollack and Push N For Pleasure riding for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  This duo dominated the competition on the West Coast picking up wins at the Desert Classic, West Coast Trainers’ Show, TWHAC Pro/Am Show and Woodside, Calif., and picked up a blue at Fayetteville, Tenn.’s Blue Ribbon Horse Show after heading east.  Lion King and Kristen Williams captured the reserve honors for Kristen Williams & Marty Irby of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  Bluegrass Bandit and Jared Carrier picked up the yellow streamer for Gobbler’s Knob Farm of Franklin, Ky.

            Class 12B, brought 21 of the 24 programmed entries to show in the Owner-Amateur Western Trail Pleasure, Adult Riders.  Judge Mike Carpenter served as Call Judge in the event.  Making a legendary performance and taking the win back to the Lone Star state in another repeat performance from 2006,  Gen’s Legend In Black and owner/exhibitor Deborah Williams of Argyle, Texas topped the division in their usual style.  This win added to an already strong resume’ which featured dual wins at Irving, Texas’ Big D Charity Horse Show and Marshall, Texas’ East Texas Show.  My Stormy Pride and Sara Womack accepted the 2nd award for Womack Stables of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  Jared Carrier was in the third position once again, this time with the young mare, Santa Emelia riding for Chip Carrier of Franklin, Ky.

            The morning’s action headed into the Performance division for class 13, Amateur Owned and Trained Walking Horses, No Professional Training within 90 days (Canter).  Ten of the 14 on the entry sheets headed to the track to give the Thursday morning crowd a chance to see the style and grace of the three-gaited performance horse.  Judge Allen Forman led the panel in this division.  Carrying the blue back to the land of the Carolina blue,  Doc Ty and Clay Mills rode to the winner’s circle for Lee Mills of Mt. Airy, N.C.  Another Carolina team, Jorge’ and owner/exhibitor Chad Adams of Goldsboro, N.C. proudly accepted the red streamers.  Heading back down south, Symbol Of Ritz and owner/exhibitor Roger Latham of Baileyton, Ala. were third.

            After a quick drag of the track, it was time to bring class 14 up the chute, Park Pleasure Driving, 2 or 4 wheel vehicles.  Six of the 13 with reservations beat the clock and showed their style as Judge Justin Jenne’ served as Call Judge.  Picking up another repeat win with the first unanimous decision of the morning was the duo of Santana’s Coin and Wallace Brandon showing for John McNeely and Lindsay Landrum of Blowing Rock, N.C. and Franklin, Tenn.  Of course, this win was very popular with the crowd as it’s always a treat to see everyone’s favorite “Cuz” not only back in the ring, but in the winner’s circle as well.  He’s On Georgia Time and Jamey Thompson were in the reserve position for Guido & Child of Meridian, Id. & Phoenix, Ariz.  Jazz All Night and owner/exhibitor Sandra Means of Shelbyville, Tenn. picked up the yellow silks.

            Class 15 brought in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod.  Twelve of the 18 expected made their way up from the warm up ring to work for World Championship acclaim under the watchful eye of Judge Sam Sorrell and staff.  Showing off their elegant style, Elegance Of Design and owner/exhibitor Nancy Lovato of Lehi, Utah topped the division.  Little Dumas and C.B. Daughtridge accepted the red streamers with a tip of the hat for C.B. & Linda Daughtridge of Rocky Mount, N.C.  Drop The Hammer and Judy Leek were third for Waldo & Leek, LLC of Cedar Creek, Texas and Shelbyville, Tenn.

            The Park Pleasure entries were back for class 16, Park Pleasure Walking Horses Two and Three Years Old.  Judge Ronnie Spears served as Call Judge for the 24 entries that made the gate call out of the 40 entries that made the program.  Riding to the top of the strong class were Jose’s Moonlit Dreamgirl and Patrick Thomas showing for Dr. Ted Swartz of Jackson, Mo.  Command’s Special Son and Jim Baum  accepted reserve for Dr. Jim Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Dollar’s Cash Master and Barbara Agnich  rode in for the golden streamers for Tommy and Sharon Vivian of Mt. Sterling, Ky.

            It was time to get back in the western way for class17, Owner-Amateur Riders on Western Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod (Canter).  Five of the seven with reservations came to work under the watchful eye of Judge Mike Carpenter and his staff.  When the work was compete it was the team of Drop The Hammer and Connie Waldo who wore out the competition to walk away with the win for Waldo & Leek, LLC of Cedar Creek, Texas and Shelbyville, Tenn.  This duo preceded this win with a 2007 win at Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Spring Fun Show.  Steel Watch and owner/exhibitor Sandra Johnson of Atlanta, Ga., were reserve.  Jose Quervo Gold and Miles Irby accepted third for Means & Irby of Shelbyville, Tenn.

            Keeping things in the western frame of mind, Class 18A brought the Owner-Amateur Novice Western Trail Pleasure, Novice Riders to work for that chance to ride right out of the Novice division and pick up their very first Celebration blue.  Twenty-seven of the 35 scheduled entries took their opportunity to work as Judge Allen Forman served as Call Judge for the division.  Riding out of the Novice division was Santa Emelia and owner /exhibitor Chip Carrier of Franklin, Ky.  Mr. Carrier is usually seen cheering on his son, Jared, but today he took over the reins and made an outstanding ride to capture the World Championship win.  Staying in the novice division for another day, Hitch and Taylor Morgan accepted the red ribbons for Irby Stables & Taylor Morgan of Mobile, Ala. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Delight Silver Design and Darren Gray were third for Darren Gray of Clermont, Fla.

            Twenty-five more outstanding Trail Pleasure teams took the track for Class 18B, Amateur Novice Western Trail Pleasure, Novice Riders looking for their chance to ride out of the Novice division today.  Judge Justin Jenne’ called the gaits in the event.  Completing their time in the Novice division, I’m Clean And Sober and Dennis Pennington picked up the win, the second of the day for the State of Utah, for Dennis & Becca Pennington of Bluffdale, Utah.  Way Wicked Gypsy and Belinda Mendenhall were reserve for Traci Neu of Rockford, Wa.  Wishes Of Cash and owner/exhibitor David Green of Hillsboro, Or., were third.

            It was back to the Park Pleasure division for class 19, Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Park Pleasure Walking Stallions or Geldings.  Seventeen of the 20 expected entries beat the clock to make the class and work for Judge Sam Sorrell and staff.  Finding their way out of the Novice division at just the right time, it was He’s On Georgia Time and Todd Child making the good ride for Guido & Child of Meridian, Id. & Phoenix, Az.  The Silver Ghost and Deborah Cable were a very solid reserve in the competitive division for Summerwind Farm of Lebanon, Ohio.  Color’s Clown and owner/exhibitor Lori Renn Abbott of Henderson, N.C. rode in to accept the yellow streamers.

            The Lite Shod horses were up for class 20, Owner-Amateur Riders on Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Four Years and Under, Lite Shod.  Twenty of the 34 expected made the gate call to work for Call Judge Ronnie Spears and his cohorts in the class.  It was a big time performance that brought Big Time Grand and C.B. Daughtridge  to the winner’s circle in the event for C.B. & Linda Daughtridge of Rocky Mount, N.C.  This duo has already had a great year with wins at the South Carolina State Show, North Carolina Spring Show, South Carolina Ladies Auxiliary, Gaston County, N.C. Show, Chatham, Va., and Dobson, N.C.  The Armed Cashier and owner/exhibitor Sophia Borg of Ponte Verdra, Fla. were reserve, with Major Orders and Sue Fullerton garnering third for Ron Fullerton of Inverness, Fla.

            The final class on the morning’s schedule was class 21, Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod (Canter).  Thirteen of the 17 expected made the call to work for the coveted World Championship win in the division as Judge Mike Carpenter called the gaits in the event.  Making the victory pass in the division with a unanimous decision was the many time WGC & WC Double Java and Scott Benham riding for Mike & Kathy Chiappari of Santa Rosa, Calif.  Nita’s Double Pride and Patrick Thomas were reserve for Jeannae Patterson and Ginger Simpson of Gulf Hammick, Fla. & Winchester, Tenn.  Kevin Marker and Slammin Rammer were third for Dave & Joy Buck of Conroe, Texas.

            As photographers Jack Greene and Shane Shiflet capture that last victory pass, the Thursday morning performance of the 69th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was in the record books.  Remember, morning performances continue on Friday, Saturday and Monday.  Then, the floor of the Calsonic Arena is transformed into a horse person’s shopping mall as the Celebration Trade Fair is in full force.  Anything horsey that you could possibly be looking for, it will be the place to find it.  But, until then, be sure you in the big arena each night promptly at 7 pm for all the action.
            Celebration memories are being made every minute – don’t miss a moment!