By Mark McGee

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The old saying is a red sky at night is a sailor’s delight meaning pleasant weather is ahead. If true, sailors, riders and fans had to be ecstatic over the crimson sunset over “The Big Oval” Tuesday night.

Tradition has been a buzzword throughout the 84th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and no place is that experienced more strongly than in the opening ceremonies. Hall of Fame rider Ronnie Spears and flag horse White Diamond Dollar entered the ring promptly at 7PM, a longtime Celebration tradition. Jimmy West gave the invocation. Will Perkins from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, sang a stirring a cappella version of the National Anthem.

Students, faculty and staff members of Community High, Junior High and Elementary schools were special Celebration guests.

The 14-class schedule opened with six of 10 programmed entries answering the gate call from center ring announcer Mark Farrar in the English Park Pleasure Walking Horses class. Sam Sorrell was the call judge. He’s A Dixieland Delight was ridden to top honors by Jeff Laughlin for owner Vickie Penick from Walterboro, South Carolina. He’s A Dixieland Delight, sired by The Dixie Lineman, has two blues in four classes this season. Lined With Silver Dollars, a classic horse, and rider Amber Zahnd tied second for Cole Nelson. Olympic Aftershock was third with Jamey Thompson aboard for Sue Brassy and Brooklyn Thompson.

My Honey Bee buzzed to top honors in Division A of the Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings class with Taylor Walters riding for Keith McSwain from Alpharetta, Georgia. My Honey Bee has four blues in five classes in 2022 including two Celebration wins. Josh Wright and My Honey Bee were first in the Young Trainers 35 & Under Walking Mares or Geldings class Sunday night. Quite The Honor and owner-rider Beth Beasley received a red ribbon, while Honor And Salute and owner-rider Kerry DeArmond placed third. All three of the top ties were sired by Honors. Eleven of 17 scheduled entries were in the ring for call judge Amy Trimble. 

He's Ballistic and owner-rider Dr. David Bullock from Mount Vernon, Kentucky, rode to the blue in Division B of the Owner-Amateur Riders on Four-Year-Old Walking Mares or Geldings class. Sired by The Coach, He’s Ballistic is undefeated in seven classes this year. Made To Honor and owner-rider Lisa Baum were reserve. I Am Bold And Spicy Jose’ and owner-rider Connie Hess walked out with a yellow ribbon. Jamie Bradshaw called the class with 13 of 17 expected entries showing. 

Honor My Country and co-owner-rider Stephanie White tied for top honors for co-owner Toni White of Eatonton, Georgia, in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings, Canter class. Honor My Country, sired by Honors, has four blues in a row in five classes in 2022. I’m Redeemed, a classic horse, was awarded a red ribbon for owner-rider Denise Maples. El’s Predicted Storm was third with Nathan Clark in the saddle for Kamden and Avery Legg. Seven of nine expected entries were on the rail for call judge John Puckett. 

The largest class of the night was the Two-Year-Old Trail Pleasure Walking Horses, Optional Tack class with 18 of 24 programmed entries competing for call judge Paul Robbins. Imagine Dragons with Hannah Myatt in the saddle made a blue-ribbon ride for owners South Ridge Farms and The Jordan Howell Family from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Imagine Dragons, sired by Wicked Image, is three-for-three in first place finishes this year with two Celebration blues. On the first Wednesday night of the Celebration Jordan Howell and Imagine Dragons won the Owner-Amateur Two-Year-Old Trail Pleasure class. Quesadilla walked out with a red ribbon with Joe Lester riding for Kimberly and Perry Walden. Sweet Walking Matilda was third with Laurie Toone aboard for owner Margo Urad. Futurity nominated two-year-old trail pleasure mares, geldings and stallions were included in the class. As the top tying Futurity nominated entry Sweet Walking Matilda also received a blue ribbon from the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association. 

Sam Sorrell was the call judge as 13 of 28 programmed entries answered the gate call in the Park Performance Walking Horses class. So Real, a classic horse, was the top tie with Patrick Thomas in the saddle for Cynthia Wright of Jackson, Tennessee, and Marian Wright from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. So Real, sired by Captain Solo, is three-for-three in wins this show season. Another classic horse, I’m A Proud American, was reserve with Michael Wright riding for Bill Williams. Hello Handsome and rider Ryan Gannon were third for co-owners Rushing and Deutsch. 

Only eight of 21 scheduled entries competed in the Show Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings class. Amy Trimble was the call judge. Acclaim and rider Winky Groover received just that winning the class for owner Carolyn Rutner from Northport, Alabama. Sired by Honors, it was the first blue in eight classes for Acclaim this show season. Georgia Florida Line, with Knox Blackburn in the irons for owner Robert Deutsch, tied second. He’s Primetime received a yellow ribbon with Clay Sanderson on board for Sanderson and Lawwell. 

Punisher rode to top honors with Ashley Rea in the saddle for owner Barbara Smith from Columbus, Mississippi, in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings, 15.2 & Under class. It was the third blue in six shows this year for Punisher, sired by Jose’ Jose.’ Nine Carat Diamond was shining in second place with Dr. Brittany Baum on board for Jacob Baum. Miss Dixie Carter and owner-rider Taylor Walters walked out with a yellow streamer. Fifteen of 29 planned entries made the show ring with Jamie Bradshaw calling the class. 

Link Webb rode Stretch Your Dollar to the blue in the Show Pleasure Walking Stallions class for owners Don and Lucky Collins from Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Stretch Your Dollar, sired by A Strong Dollar, has three blues in 10 classes this show season. An Executive Privilege was reserve with John Allan Callaway in the irons for Ronnie Logsdon. The Crimson Sky won third with Drew Graves riding for Judy Case. Five of 11 program entries were in the ring for call judge John Puckett. 

Sam I Am Jose’ received a blue ribbon instead of green eggs and ham with Alex Rea in the saddle for owner Dr. Ann Rea of Columbus, Mississippi, in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Mares or Geldings Division A class. It was the first Celebration win for Alex Rea and the only unanimous decision of the night by the five-judge panel. Sam I Am Jose’ is sired by I Am Jose’, is unbeaten in six classes this year and has 12 consecutive blues dating back to 2020. Owner-rider Eric Lackey tied second with A Shade Of Jose, while Voyager won a yellow ribbon co-owner Paul Simmons riding for co-owner Tiffany Simmons. Ten of 23 programmed entries competed in the ring. Paul Robbins was the call judge. 

Owner-rider Bob Adcock from Lititz, Pennsylvania, and Born A Maverick rode to the win in Division B of the Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions class. Born A Maverick is four-for-four in blues in 2022. In 2021, Bill Callaway rode Born A Maverick to top honors in Division B of the Two-Year-Old Walking Stallions class at the Celebration. He’s Hot and owner-rider Sister Milligan were reserve. Honor Of The Ritz was third for owner-rider Chavigny Beasley. Sam Sorrell was the call judge. Eighteen of 23 program entries showed for the class.

Blacklist was awarded top honors in the Trail Pleasure Walking Horses, Optional Tack class with Carrie Martin DeJarnatte on board for owner Sherry Kessler from Mount Juliet, Tennessee. It was the eighth blue in nine classes this show season for Blacklist, sired by Gen’s Black Gin. It was the second Celebration blue with Sherry Kessler winning the Owner-Amateur English Trail Pleasure class the first Wednesday morning. Luciano placed second with Bailey Momb riding for co-owners Lindy Holt and The John Sells Family, while Laurie Toone was in the saddle as Checkpoint Charlie tied third for co-owners Tamara Hader, Jared Carrier and Harper Grider. Seven of 11 expected entries made the gate call with Amy Trimble serving as the call judge. 

The Great I Am was great enough for first place in the Young Trainers 35 Years & Under on Walking Stallions class. The Great I Am, sired by I Am Jose’ is two-for-two in blues this year. Tyler Baucom was in the irons for owners The Mark Ricker Family from Greeneville, Tennessee. Warbird and Ryan Blackburn tied second for owner Ginger Williams. The Blackstone and Kayla Baucom were awarded a yellow ribbon for owner Kelly Manis. Jamie Bradshaw called the gaits with eight entries of 20 in the program in the ring. 

In the last class of the night, five of 10 programmed entries made the gate call in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions class. John Puckett served as the call judge. Making the final ride to the winner’s circle of the night were I’m Jordan with Kenny Compton riding for Della Compton from Tazewell, Virginia. I’m Jordan, sired by ACC, has three blues in three shows this year. Jose It Ain’t So was reserve with Jake Jacobs in the saddle for the Jacobs Family. NV-US tied third with rider Kim Leonard and owner Scott Leonard.