The 2003 Walking Horse Trainers' Show was a great one with 634 entries! The quality was outstanding. In class after class, those in the warm-up ring would rush back to the stands to see what horse the crowd was cheering for!

It seemed as if the Trainers' Show breathed new life into the industry, setting the tone for a terrific season. Horses were selling like hotcakes during the show and many new teams entered the ring class after class.

Each night opened with a different father/daughter team entering the ring with dad carrying the American flag while daughter carried the WHTA flag. The emphasis was on what a family sport this is; for where else do you see parents and children competing at the same event? On Wednesday night the crowd was treated to Jimmy McConnell and daughter Stacy Blackburn opening the show; Thursday's performance was opened by Ronal Young and his daughter Beth Young. Friday was a real crowd pleaser with David Landrum and tiny Lindsey Landrum swooping around the ring with their flags. After leaving the flags in the middle, each team went down opposite sides, passed on the opposite end, completed their pass and exited together. It was heartwarming to see David Landrum stop and take off his hat as Lindsey passed him. On Saturday night Billy Gray made his ride on his granddaughter's juvenile horse, Jerry Maguire, with daughter Kathryn Ann Cook also performing.

In keeping with the family theme, the crowd was given an exhibition of 2002 World Grand Champion Out On Parole with Jennifer Dunn, daughter of Steve Dunn, in the irons on Saturday night! Not only is this a great family sport, it proves the wonderful nature of our horses and their willing dispositions.

The crowd's favorites in most classes were also the judges favorites. In the championship stake, the flashy head-shaking The Whole Nine Yards brought the house down on his victory pass. Stepping up into the aged ranks seemed easy for the 2002 Four-Year-Old World Grand Championship team of Bill Bobo and "Nine". Luanne Sigman stated pre-show that her boy had grownup over the winter. When he entered the ring, a stouter and larger "Nine" demonstrated a performance as outstanding as his beautiful coloring and flowing mane accentuated by his head shake.

Six extremely talented entries answered the gate call, entering one at a time in the Stake class. After a thorough workout, which included a second running walk, the class was tied. Private Charter and Knox Blackburn were selected reserve champions for Bud Moore. They ended 2002 with a Grand Championship at the WHOA/Kiwanis Thanksgiving Show and gave notice that they would also be at the top in 2003 with their great performance.

Another highlight of the show on Saturday night was the reuniting of the team of Chicago and Liz Hainer Underwood. Chicago was the 2001 Three-Year-Old World Grand Champion. He made his 2003 debut one that the crowd appreciated as he won the Amateur Specialty Championship.

Another new successful team was that of Robin MacDonald aboard her new mount, John FK's Pusher. They won the Amateur Stallions Specialty Class following this chestnut stallion's stake win at Starkville, Mississippi in his 2003 debut with Dick Peebles.

Many of the 2002 world champions were back in winning form at the Trainers' Show including World Grand Champion Pusher's Beaming Pride who carried home two Trainers' Show blues in the lite shod competition.

The two-year-olds always generate much excitement and this year was no exception. The winter's tales as to who would be the best brought everyone to the edge of their seat and each division had excellent youngsters entering the ring.

Ed Breedlove's ride on Witches Jazz in the Amateur Two-Year-Old Mares and Geldings was met with approval of crowd and judges. Sam Martin came out with two new youngsters, one of which is a small filly, Santana's Hurricane, that reminds one of his Skywatch's Dark N Stormy, which also returned to win the Amateur Three-Year-Old Mares and Geldings with Tricia Timmons up this year. Sam Martin won the Mares/Geldings with Santana's Hurricane and returned to top the Two-Year-Old Stallions MASCUP on Pride's Heartbeat. The Rae Martin/Sam Martin team again demonstrates how walking horses enter one's blood and carry on to one's offspring as if it were genetic.

2002 World Champion Strong Dollar created quite an uproar in the audience with his performance in the Three-Year-Old Classic with Joe Cotten. Fred Gibbany, a spectator from Arkansas, said "He looks like a stake horse."

Jackie McConnell also wowed the crowd with a newly purchased Santini in the Four-Year-Old Stallions MASCUP for Bobby East. The Bobby East family had a great trainer's show as Rhonda East won her first garland aboard Twist Abouts Hero in the Amateur Show Pleasure Specialty Championship. Tears were the order of the day for both Rhonda East and Cyndi McConnell. Rhonda East is the mother of Brad East who has won many blues with his Slick Willie. Opps, there goes that family thing again.

Kari Tisma won her first trainer's show Juvenile Specialty Championship aboard Pride's Hard Cash after winning reserve for the last two years. She's the granddaughter of Jeanine Gullett who also won a trainers' show reserve on Mozambique.

This just touches the tip of the many talented walking horses that entered the ring at the 2003 trainers show. If you missed even a minute of the show, you missed a lot. Read on and you'll find out why this was such a great show going "the whole nine yards". Mark your calendar for next year since you don't want to miss another show like this one.

For complete Trainer's Show coverage see the printed edition of Walking Horse Report dated 3/31/03.

For complete show results visit our website at