by Linda Scrivner

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association held its annual awards banquet on Friday evening, Dec. 2, at the Franklin Marriott. Following a welcome by Master of Ceremonies, Mark Farrar, Jr., the invocation by Wayne Dean and a delicious meal, the evening’s presentations began.

The evening began with the recognition and appreciation for the 2011 sponsors.

The 2011 Executive Board was recognized and included President Marty Irby, Senior Vice President Margo Urad, Administrative/Fiscal/Audit Vice President Rob Cornelius, Breeders’ Vice President Kathy Zeis, Enforcement Vice President Michael Hicks, Equine Welfare Vice President Dr. Linda Montgomery, Horse Shows Vice President Tracy Boyd, Marketing Vice President Joyce Moyer, Owner/Exhibitors/International Vice President Stephen Brown, Performance Horse Vice President Tom Kakassy, Pleasure Horse Vice President Rick Wies, Training Vice President Wayne Dean, Member At Large: By Laws Vice President Loyd Hall Black, Jr. and Members At Large: Youth Vice President Linda Starnes.

The evening’s awards began by honoring the 2011 World Grand Champion Game World. Game World is owned by Chester and Lynda Stokes. He was bred by Dr. Andrew W. Sisk and was ridden to the World Grand Championship by Gary Edwards. The Game World family has been very generous in sharing this wonderful horse with his fans. Game World has definitely proven himself to be a great ambassador.

The next to be honored was the 2011 TWHBEA World Versatility Show Overall High Point Champion, Texas At The Ritz. He is owned and was bred by Tracy Pinson and is trained by Wayne Conkle. A Versatility Champion and Extreme Cowboy Race World top finisher, Texas At The Ritz achieved his 2011 title by competing in a variety of disciplines including Trail Obstacle, Showmanship, Dressage, Hunter Hack, Western Rider and Basic Reining.

In 2008, the decision was made to reinstate the Futurity Graduate Award. This year they honored the first Graduate Award winner of this new era. These honorees showed at the National Futurity each year they were eligible and accumulated the best record at the show among all horses of their age that showed these years. The Graduate Award Champion was Good Til The Last Drop, owned by James and Dawn Payne. The Two-Year-Old Horizon Award Champion was Miss Cheyenne, owned by Larry Mesimer and Roger Richards. The Yearling Horizon Award Winner was Albert’s Homer, owned by Alan H. and Jason A. Bachert. The Weanling Horizon Award Champions were Mission Accomplished, owned by Jerry L. Stephens, Intimidator’s Cover Girl, owned by Andrew Waites and Brian Wright and Oh Pancho Oh Cisco, owned by Roger D. Richards.

The Regional Futurity Premier Sires and Dams of the Year awards were presented next. The Premier Sire for the Bi-State Regional Futurity is Built In Flash and the Premier Dam for the Bi-State Regional Futurity is You Push I’ll Watch, both owned by Thomas and Kellie White.

The Premier Sire for the Ohio Regional futurity is Stride-N-Gold Fashion, owned by Richard and Merrie Ellen Polch. The Premier Dam for the Ohio Regional Futurity is Iron Eagle’s Revelation, owned by Pat Stout.  

The Premier Sire for the Upper Cumberland Regional Futurity is Command’s Calling Card and the Premier Dam for the Upper Cumberland Regional Futurity is Elmer’s Tune, both owned by Ella Kline.

The Premier Sire for the Western International Regional Futurity is Nite’s Design, owned by Allan and Nancy Plunkett. The Premier Dam for the Western International Regional Futurity is Delightful Time To Go, owned by James and Roberta Smith.

The GO! Gelding Program is broken down by age into four disciplines and the winners are those that accumulate the most points in their discipline at year’s end. The winners of the GO! Gelding Super Gelding Awards were Flat-Shod Super Gelding Enchanter’s MG, owned by Jo Boucher, and Performance Super Gelding Vegas Ritz, owned by Julia Livingston.

This year the GO! Gelding Program paid out five places in each division and the top fives were honored next. The Top Five in the Performance Junior Geldings were Ritz Diamond In The Ruff, owned by James Corlew; Highway Alert, owned by Betty Corlew; Walk Hard, owned by Tess Suiter; King Of Voltage, owned by Kevin McNatt and Jazzpur, owned by Laurie Herchenroeder. The Performance Senior Geldings were Vegas Ritz, owned by Julia Livingston; Liar Liar, owned by Gary and Shea Sproles; Gettin Out On Parole, owned by Gail Walling; You’re The Man, owned by Caitlin Winburn and Roll The Gold, owned by Allison Thorson.

The Versatility Senior Geldings were Rebelation, owned by Linda Starnes; The Masked Phantom, owned by Catherine Starnes; Enchanter’s MG, owned by Jo Boucher; Pride’s Trigger Finger, owned by Janet Knight and Genius Moonlight Stardust, owned by Katie Wallrabenstein. The Pleasure Junior Geldings were Dierks Bentley, owned by Margo Urad; Mr. Paparazzi, owned by Bo Teague; Battery Power, owned by Hunter Wilhelm; Good Til The Last Drop, owned by Dawn Payne and Smooth Talker, owned by Greg and Rachel Allen.

The Pleasure Senior Geldings were Enchanter’s MG, owned by Jo Boucher; Rebelation, owned by Linda Starnes; Pride’s Striding Generator, owned by Emma Krock; Jazz Show, owned by Josh Monahan and Generator’s Classic Fable, owned by Julie Lovin. The Recreational Trail Senior Geldings were Cotton Stock’s Starliner, owned by Laura Plumley; A Storm Chaser, owned by Beth Burns; TJ’s Secret Threat, owned by Jonathan Burns’ Bo’s Danny Boy, owned by Gene Wood and Coin’s Liquid Gold, owned by Angela Huffman.

The Distance program is one of TWHBEA’S most popular offerings that recognize horse and rider teams for the hours they spend on the trail. Accumulating the most hours and claiming the Distance Horse and Rider of the Year Award were Champagne Bliss and Ronnie Slack. In the Open Gaited Division, top honors went to Dee Jay Light and Pride’s Tennessee Jack.

The TWHBEA-WHTA Youth Challenge Program ensures the availability of Youth Performance Canter classes at shows across the country and rewards those young riders that become proficient at the canter. This year’s Youth Challenge High Point Rider was Alex Way. The Youth Challenge Reserve High Point Rider was Morgan Murphy, with third place awarded to Allison Thorson.

TWHBEA recognized the TWHYA officers; President Maggie Mae White, Vice President Zach Carmichael, Secretary Lindsey Landrum, Parliamentarian Donald J. Hasler, Treasurer Susan Shelton and Member At Large Jordan Dean.

Two years ago a new award was named in honor of the late Lizzie Umberger. The recipient of the Lizzie Umberger Sportsmanship Award was voted on by TWHYA members and was Lindsey Landrum. The TWHYA Outstanding Youth Member of the Year was Susan Shelton. This young woman has spent the past year doing her utmost to promote her breed of choice. She is the reigning TWHYA Queen and current TWHYA Treasurer.

Sherry White was award the 2011 TWHBEA Youth Ambassador Award for her contributions to the youth in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. White originally became immerse in the world of the Tennessee Walking Horse for one reason; her daughter, Maggie Mae. Introduced to the breed in their home state of Michigan, it wasn’t long before both Sherry and Maggie Mae were a regular presence at walking horse events throughout the country. It takes a dedicated parent for a child to succeed in any endeavor and Maggie Mae White is one of our industry’s success stories. She is an accomplished show ring competitor having achieved top honors in everything from Equitation to the Youth Challenge Program to Versatility. She has also served in a leadership capacity for the TWHYA and has sat on a number of committees for TWHBEA. Sherry has been there every step of the way, supporting Maggie Mae in her support of our breed.

Additionally, Sherry has been there time and time again volunteering her time, knowledge and experience in support of TWHBEA youth events. She is an active committee member at the Association and she is always there when TWHYA or TWHBEA needs her.

This year’s Performance Horse Ambassador Award went to David Landrum. This award is presented to those that have committed themselves to the betterment of the performance horse. Landrum is one of our industry’s most successful trainers and one of our industry’s most dedicated promoters and supporters. During his tenure in the industry, Landrum has earned accolade after accolade. Three definite highlights would be directing Pride’s Sundance Star to the ultimate show ring title of World Grand Champion, being inducted into the Celebration Hall of Fame and being honored as the WHTA Trainer of the Year.

Additionally, Landrum has assisted in a number of educational and promotional efforts with TWHBEA. From videos produced by the Association to clinics hosted by the Association, Landrum has been there providing horses and sharing his love for and knowledge of the breed. David has serve countless stints on industry boards and committees. He has represented the State of Tennessee on the TWHBEA board of directors and he has serve on the WHTA board. He has also serve on the TWHBEA Executive Committee and as President of the WHTA.

The 2011 TWHBEA Pleasure Horse Ambassador Award went to Kevin Gilliam, a longtime owner, exhibitor and trainer. He is also an accomplished riding instructor who has introduced numerous kids and their parents to our great breed through the lesson program at his barn in North Carolina. Successful at shows throughout the southeast, horses trained at Kevin’s Bayfield Farms, have excelled in both versatility and rail competition at the highest levels. Those he has taught to ride have also found success at our industry’s most prestigious events. It is said that Gilliam has a special talent for creating perfect horse and ride teams, creating, in the process, lifetime Tennessee Walking Horse enthusiasts. It is not uncommon for a child to arrive at Bayfield with no riding experience, be matched with a horse on Kevin’s advice, and leave a blue ribbon winner. Kevin has been a dedicated volunteer for various state and national industry associations, including TWHBEA.

Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson was award a TWHBEA Friendship Award for his valuable role in assisting TWHBEA over the past year. TWHBEA Member of the Year was awarded to TWHBEA lifetime member Bobby Beech, who has generously donated his time and effort over the years to assist the Association in a variety of ways. His National Bridle Shop has served as a generous sponsor of TWHBEA events, from the World Versatility Show to TWHBEA membership drives to the Association’s social media efforts. He has also always been willing to share ideas and insight gleaned from his years in the industry.

A Corporate Sponsor Award was presented to Jason Bachert of Manna Pro for its generous support of the Association as a Corporate Sponsor. Manna Pro has supported a number of TWHBEA endeavors over the past year including the World Versatility Show, TWHYA and TWHBEA’s marketing efforts at events including Equine Affaire and Road To The Horse.

The Reese L. Smith, Jr. Distinguished Service Award was awarded to Bob Medina for exemplifying the same dedication, commitment and personal involvement as Reese L. Smith, Jr. Medina was born in New York City and attended Philips Exeter Academy and graduated from Princeton with a major in economics. He started his career with Chase Manhattan Bank and later moved to Bessemer Trust Company, In 1967, he married Mary Dunn and soon moved to their farm in Skillman, N.J. In 1970, Bob left Bessemer and formed his own real estate company. Bob and Mary bought their first Tennessee Walking Horse, a palomino pleasure mare named Honey, from Clay Harlin in 1980. In 1982, they bought their first performance show horse from Wallace Brandon. At their first show in Quentin, Pa., Bob met Jimmy McConnell and the rest is history. The Medinas have been loyal customers of McConnell since. Their horses have won 20 world championships and one world grand championship. Bob has served on almost every board in the industry.

The TWHBEA Master Breeder Awards, the highest and most prestigious recognition given to a breeder, recognizes those breeders whose work over an extended period of time has had a significant and long-lasting impact on the breed. This year four Master Breeder Awards were bestowed to J. Mac Carter, Charles Ramsey, Sam Stockett and the George Wright family.

J. Mac Carter began his breeding program in the 1950s after purchasing a farm outside Murfreesboro and turning it into a dairy. His farm was the home of the best producing dairy herd in Rutherford County. His ability to study the production records of cows gave him the idea that the same principles might work with his horses. It was his belief that in nature there was a pattern of genes that produce superior products that led Carter to produce a string of royally bred and talented horses.

He started his breeding program with a band of mares by Midnight Sun, Merry Go Boy and Miller’s Wilson Allen, which he out crossed with other prominent walking horse families. The first broodmare of significance Carter purchased was Shadow’s Nookie by Go Boy’s Shadow and out of Jay’s Traveler, who was also the dame of the successful show mare Midnight Mystery. When Carter bought Shadow’s Nookie she was in foal to The Impala and the next spring she gave birth to Impala’s Shadowette, the dam of 1973 World Grand Champion Delight Bummin’ Around, Delight’s Tramp, Delight’s Vamp and Delight’s Hobo. Over the years Carter continued to gather a herd of outstanding broodmares and his reputation as a breeder of great horses was solidified. Other horses produced by the J. Mac Carter breeding program include Delight’s Double Clutch, Bum’s Storm Cloud, Ebony’s Hacksaw, Time To Deal, Delight’s Delightful and Delight’s Caper.

Charles Ramsey made one of the most momentous and influential breeding decisions in the history of the walking horse when he decided to breed his mare, Ramsey’s Rena, to the great stallion Wilson’s Allen. This cross produced the horse that has been referred to as the greatest sire of all time and the horse of the century – Midnight Sun. This set the tone for future generations of walking horses. Midnight Sun was shown to both the 1945 and 1946 World Grand Championships before finding his true calling in the breeding shed. He went on to sire more than 2,000 foals including World Grand Champions Midnight Merry, The Talk Of The Town, Setting Sun, Sun’s Jet Parade and Sun’s Delight D. He also produced the great Pride Of Midnight and a slew of good producing broodmares and sires. Ramsey’s grandson’s, Nicholas and Bradley, accepted his award.

Sam Stockett of Jackson, Miss., began riding when he was five and showing his Shetland when he was eight. Three years later, under the direction of J.H. Noblin, he made the transition to walking horses. Influenced by his childhood spent immerse in the walking horse, Stockett has spent the years since that time working towards the betterment of the breed he loves. In 1979 he purchased a three-year-old son of Pride Of Midnight named Pride’s Royal Master. After a successful show career, he was retired to the breeding barn where he quickly made a name for himself. His first crop of seven foals in 1981 all became successful show horses. He very carefully selected a top band of broodmares. He continued his search for top broodmares and by the late 1980s his band included such standouts as Tiger Lilly K.C.H.C., Rock’s Romance, Lonely Little Star, Delight’s Star M., Delight’s Caper, Bum’s Caper, Senator Special Babe, Delight’s Kay M. and Delight’s Ideal. Crossing these mares with Royal Master, Stockett produced successful contenders such as Royal Label, Royal Seal, Royal’s Dark Bum, Royal’s Kay, Royal Deal and Royal Sparkle. Stockett also was successful crossing his mares with Pride’s Last Recall and other prominent stallions. Today, Stockett continues to seek out only the best mares and to produce top quality foals.

The George Wright family began their breeding program with one mare, Shadow’s Juliet. By Go Boy’s Shadow and out of a Stately Allen mare, Shadow’s Juliet produced Master Perfection who in turn produced two Pride Of Midnight daughters whose offspring would become the beginnings of the George Wright family broodmare band. From this broodmare band, their program produced such greats as World Grand Champions Gen On The Run and Play Something Country and Reserve World Grand Champion and sire of numerous world champions, Pride’s Main Man. They are also the breeders of record for over 20 world and national futurity champions.

The Wright family currently has 12 producing mares, seven of which are by Pride’s Main Man. At the 2011 National Futurity and Celebration, five of their mares had offspring that won two world grand championships, three world championships, one reserve world championship, two national futurity championships and two reserve national futurity championships.

The TWHBEA Dam of the Year by actual points and by percentage points was once again Gen’s Major Promise. She has produced five offspring including Enchanter’s MG who claimed nearly 60 blue ribbons in 2011 as well as the 2011 TWHBEA GO! Flat Shod Super Gelding award.

The TWHBEA Sire of the Year based on total points was once again two-time World Champion and two-time World Grand Champion José José, owned by William B. and Sandra Johnson and bred by Dr. and Mrs. Rafael Rigual. His offspring included 2011 World Grand Champions Suiza, Roll The Gold, A Victoria Secret, Play Something Country, I Am Jose and Jose’s Baby Doll, World Champions One Bad Hombre, Jose’s Delightful Pusher, ACC, Los Lobos, Jose Caliente, She’s Sugarland, Miss Hosanna and I’m Chesapeake Bay and National Futurity Champion Oh Pancho Oh Cisco.

The Top Sire of the Year by Percentage was once again three-time World Champion and World Grand Champion A Greater Generator, owned by Leo and Mary Martin and bred by Ron Kidd. His offspring include 2011 World Champions Gi Gi’s Majestic and Gi Gi’s Jamaican Generator and winner’s circle regulars Gi Gi’s Halberd, Gi Gi’s Touch N Go and Gi Gi’s Milk Money among many others.

The Sire Summary Outstanding Sire of the Year once again went to José José. This award is based on 50 percent combination of actual points and percentage points as well as several other statistical categories presented each year in TWHBEA’s Sire Summary.

Senior Vice President Margo Urad recognized President Marty Irby for his hard work and dedication to TWHBEA. The banquet concluded with closing remarks by President Irby.