by Mark McGee | Photos by Shane Shiflet

The temperature inside of the arena was comfortable, but the competition in the show ring at Cooper Steel Arena Wednesday morning, August 23, 2023, was hot with a variety of owner-amateur pleasure classes dominating the schedule.

Organist Brian Peery got the audience in the mood for the start of the 85th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration with some great tunes. 

The judging panel for the 11-day event consist of Derek Bonner, Leah Boyd, Nathan Clark, David Sisk and Kenny Smith.

Twelve of 13 scheduled classes were held with the Auxiliary Equitation Medal Class for Riders 12-14 Years, Canter class not showing.

In the first class of the day, all eight entries listed in the program answered the gate call by announcer  Travis Olinger in the Model Pleasure Mares class. My Miranda Lambert walked to the blue with Laurie Toone leading for Rushing Creek Walkers/Brandon Tate of Dickson, Tennessee and Athens, Alabama. Reserve was Catherine Zeta-Jones with Robert Nelms handling for Ed Lukacevic. Taking the yellow ribbon was She’s Walkin’ On Fire with Claire Hankins directing for owner Bruce Vaughn. It was the third blue in five shows this year for My Miranda Lambert. Walk Time Charlie was sire to both the first and third place winners.

It was 100% attendance in the Owner-Amateur English Trail Pleasure class with all nine scheduled entries competing. Blacklist was the unanimous decision of the five-judge panel, winning the class for the second year in a row, this time with owner-rider Jane Pirolo of Franklin, Tennessee, in the irons. It was the sixth blue of 2023 for the team, and their fourth in a row. Jose’s Twist Of Gin placed reserve with owner-rider Patti Pollack, while I’m Thunderstruck N.D.R. was ridden to third by owner Debbie Simons.

Continuing to dominate for the fourth year in a row, it was the team of Roscoe Jenkins and owner-rider Susan Coleman of Unionville, Tennessee, unanimously topping the Owner-Amateur English Lite-Shod competition. They remain undefeated in 16 classes since 2020. Two Gunns LLC received the red ribbon for rider R. Blake Cammack and owner Champion Stables. Third was presented to It’s Game Time with Lori Fields in the saddle for Timmy Fields.

All five listed entries showed in the Owner-Amateur English Country Pleasure class. GiGi’s Majestic unanimously tied first with Jordan Howell riding for William Bradford of Dallas, Texas. This was their second blue in three shows this season. Stapleton took reserve with owner Maggie Moore aboard, while Legend Of Zelda earned the yellow ribbon for owner-rider B J Franck. 

Dose’ and owner-rider Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tennessee, were called to victory lane in the Elite Owner-Amateur Park Pleasure class, where six of the eight programmed entries competed. They have a previous 2023 victory at Christmas In July, and have won five straight first place ribbons dating back to 2022. Just Jose’ It was second with owner-rider Kim Leonard in the saddle. Dixie’s Legacy and Billie DeArmond were third. 

Silverback and owner-rider Kathy Anderson from College Grove, Tennessee, walked unanimously to the top honors in the Owner-Amateur Four-Year-Old Trail Pleasure class. It was the team’s sixth blue in eight classes in 2023. Just A Steel Magnolia was reserve with owner Bob Lawrence in the. Taking home the yellow streamers was It’s Machine Gun Kelly and Renée Stasiewicz. She is the co-owner with Scott Stasiewicz from Dousman, Wisconsin. Six of seven listed entries competed. 

Two of four programmed entries were in the Owner-Amateur Five-Year-Old Trail Pleasure class. Owner Patti Pollack of Saratoga, California, was the first-place tie with Jose’s Twist Of Gin. It was their eighth blue in 12 classes this year. Into The Badlands and owner Chad Spencer was reserve. 

Laurie Toone won her second blue of the morning riding A Stormy Night In Dixie for owner Brandon Tate of Athens, Alabama, also a dual winner, in the Five & Under Park Pleasure class. They have won three blues in four shows. Jamie Lawrence drove My Maserati Alfieri to the red ribbon for owner Zack Gipson. Late Night At The Ritz placed third with Patrick Thomas riding for Lisa Baum. Ten of 14 entries competed in the class. 
Joel Johnson had IB Smokin Joe hitting on all cylinders for owners Tanner and Tucker Johnson of Shelbyville, Tennessee, in the Owner-Amateur All Day Pleasure class. Impressively, this was the third straight year they have won the class. IB Smokin Joe has won blues in five of six classes this year, with three of them being in a row. Taking second place was owner Kimberly Walden Walden aboard She’s Never Been Kissed. Miss Belle Starr W. was ridden to a yellow ribbon by owner Dr. Brittany Baum. Twelve of 14 original entries entered the show ring. 

Also back reclaiming his title, for the third year in a row, was Checkpoint Charlie. This was the second year Jared Carrier was in the irons to earn the Owner-Amateur Flat Shod (Canter) world championship for Jared Carrier from Gallatin, Tennessee, Sean and Tamara Hader of Bainbridge, Georgia, and Harper Grider of Columbia, Kentucky. This win can as a unanimous decision from the judging panel. The Red Light District and owner-rider Ashlyn Avent from Shelbyville, Tennessee, tied reserve, while Australian Gold was third with Allison Thorson Newman riding for ThorSport Farm. 

The Three-Year-Old Trail Pleasure class was next with eight of the 11 scheduled entries taking to the ring. Imagine Dragons made the unanimous blue ribbon with Hannah Myatt in the saddle for owners Jordan Howell and Southridge Farm of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The team is undefeated this year with four blues in four classes. Sweet Walking Matilda, the highest placing Futurity entery, was second with Laurie Toone riding for Margo Urad. Parking Lot Party was awarded third with Joe Lester in the stirrups for owners Gary and Karen Doss.

It was perfect attendance in the  Auxiliary Equitation Riders 15-17 Medal Class with all four entries competing. John Garrett Burton from Bowling Green, Kentucky, finished first. Marley Doyle from Colorado Springs, Colorado, placed second, while Kate Cown, also of Bowling Green, was awarded the yellow ribbon.