By Mark Davis


            As always, the first Wednesday evening of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration featured the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors Association’s National Futurity.  In the Futurity’s 69 year history, it has grown to become one of the largest and richest one night shows in the country featuring over $125, 000 in prize money. 

            In past years, the TWHBEA Futurity has been judged and managed by The Celebration officials and the classes served as qualifiers for The Celebration’s championship events.  The year 2007 brought change to that tradition.  The Executive Committee of the TWHBEA made the decision that the Futurity would be sanctioned by their Horse Industry Organization and with that decision, the event could no longer serve as a qualifying event for The Celebration and The Celebration’s judges would not serve the event.

            The judging panel for the 2007 Futurity featured Tom Davis of Elkhart, Texas, Ronnie Sapp of Pikeville, Tenn., Ken Shrum of Murfreesboro, Tenn., Vernon Stamper of Sharpsburg, Ky., and Leslie Topham of Lehi, Utah.  Each of these officials hold certification with the TWHBEA-HIO.

            Shortly after the scheduled start time of 5:30 p.m., TWHBEA Staff Clinician Nicole Carswell and Mistress took the track to present our nation’s flag.

The invocation for the evening was given by Bro. Geoff Giesemann of Fairlane Church of Christ, Shelbyville, Tenn., with the national anthem being sung by Grammy award winning artist, Judy Hess Martin of Atlanta, Ga.

Opening the evening’ schedule was class 1, the TWHBEA Youth Medallion Championship.  This class was created to develop opportunities for young people to learn to canter and show the performance Tennessee Walking Horse in three gaits.  One entry made the gate call in the division with Judge Tom Davis serving as Call Judge.  Making the outstanding exhibition and taking home the honors were the duo of Big Guy Design and Luke Carswell showing for Gene Carswell of Morehead, Ky.

Class 2 featured the Two-Year-Old Park Stallions, Mares and Geldings with six of the 11 with reservations hitting the track to work for Call Judge Ronnie Sapp and his panel.  Taking the win back to the Show-Me state, with a unanimous decision of the judging panel, was the team of My Cabana Boy and Jay Laughlin riding for 4-J Land and Cattle Company of Waynesville, Mo.  Another Missouri entry captured the red streamers, Jose’s Moonlit Dreamgirl, with Patrick Thomas showing, for Theodore Swartz of Jackson, Mo.  Armed And Wanted and Jim Roberts were third for Mrs. Fred Berry of Roland, Ark.

The babies hit the track for class 3, Weanling Fillies with 18 of the 65 nominated making the call to show their stuff for Call Judge Ken Shrum and his cohorts.  Walking to the top of the division with just a perfect performance was Pleasantly Perfect and Chris Richards leading for Gus King of Arab, Ala.  Reserve in the division was I’m a Philadelphia Philly and Robert Nelms handling for Lisa Washburn of Fayetteville, Tenn.  Night Shade’s Love Song and Bobby Richards picked up the yellow streamer for Howard Adkinson of Spring Hill, Tenn.

The under saddle entries were back for class 4,  Three-Year-Old Park Stallions, Mares and Geldings with two of the three nominated entries making the call to hit the rail for Call Judge Vernon Stamper and staff.  Making the winning ride with a prime performance were Cash’s Prime Time and Scot MacGregor showing for Charles and Judith Fulton of Marietta, Ga.  Magic Man’s Masterpiece and Byron Cantress accepted the reserve placing for Joy Geske of Riverdale, Ga.

Class 5 brought the Two-Year-Old Mares and Geldings to Calsonic Arena with two of the 26 expected made the gate to work as Judge Leslie Topham called the gaits.  Gimme Two Dollars More and John Tudor captured the roses in the event for Laurie Herchenroeder of Harrodsburg, Ky.  Mike Janeway and Elmer’s Encore accepted the red streamer for Ella Kline of Robbins, Tenn.

The Yearlings were back for Class 6, Yearling Fillies.  Ten of the 82 programmed entries came to work for Call Judge Tom Davis and his panel.  Walking their way to the winner’s circle were Pat Head Summit (the horse, not the coach) with Amanda Winters at the strap for Dr. Roger Richards of Hendersonville, Tenn.  Another Roger Richards entry, Maybe I’m Maybelline and Chris Richards were reserve with Bobby Richards and She’s All Cashed In accepting third for Charles Gleghorn of Fayetteville, Tenn.

Back under saddle, Class 7 brought the Two-Year-Old Traditional Plantation Stallions, Mares and Geldings to the ring with six of the 14 expected working the track as Judge Ronnie Sapp served as Call Judge for the division.  Proving their color was blue, Color Your World and Shelly Herman garnered the judges approval to ride to the top of the event for Nancy M. Hall of Lebanon, Tenn.  Gold Portrait and Jim Potter accepted the red streamer for Tracy Weier of Mansfield, Ohio.  Joe Byrom and They Call Me The Fireman were third for Judy Gambill of Shelbyville, Tenn.

Class 8, Three –Year-Old Mares and Geldings, was cancelled due to no entries.

Class 9 brought the babies back to the big oval for the Weanling Colts event with 26 of the 68 expected working the track as Judge Vernon Stamper led the panel in the event. After narrowing the field to 11 and requesting additional work, the panel selected the outstanding youngster, Pride Of Stonecutter, with Chris Richards at the lead to the winner’s circle for Mr. & Mrs. Charles E. Brantley of Wartrace, Tenn.  Another Stonecutter progeny, One Bodacious Stone and handler Robert Nelms accepted the reserve honors for Brian and Katherine Valaquez of Lafayette, Ind.  I’m Walkin’ On Wall Street and Amanda Winters lead in for the yellow streamer for Jennifer and Glenda Hall and Amanda Winters of Christiana, Tenn.

            Three-Year Old Traditional Plantation Stallions, Mares & Geldings were up next with four of the 10 expected hitting the track to work as Judge Leslie Topham called the gaits in the event.  Gen’s American Idol and Sharon Gueck DeFord rode to the winner’s circle in the division for her mother, Diane Gueck of Sherwood, Ore.  Extra Classic and Jim Potter captured the red streamer for Mag Ranft of Groveport, Ohio.  Alluring Attitude and Noble Stout were third for Pat Stout of Cookeville, Tenn.

            Two of the 36 horses expected made the gate call for class 11, Two Year Old Stallions.  Judge Tom Davis served as Call Judge in the event.  Chicago Express and owner/exhibitor Bobby Jacobs of Wilmore, Ky., the blue ribbon and the roses.  In Command. Com and Mark Lambert were a popular reserve for Diana Popp of Shelbyville, Tenn.

            Fifteen of the 19 expected made their way to the confines of Calsonic Arena for class 12, Two-Year-Old Trail Plantation Stallions, Mares and Geldings.  Judge Ronnie Sapp and his cohorts carefully watched over the entries.  I’m Ritz and Joseph Abernathy made the stellar performance to ride to the winner’s circle for Allison Thompson of Huron, Ohio.  Rolling Commander and Ashley Womack proudly accepted the red streamer for Pat and Ashley Womack of Nashville, Tenn.  Jazzed and Steppin’and Jay Laughlin were third for 4-J Land and Cattle Company of Waynesville, Mo.

            Completing the halter division for the evening, class 13, Yearling Colts brought 21 of the 90 expected to the track to work for the roses in the event as Judge Ken Shrum led the panel.  After the initial work, the decision was made that a workout was necessary to tie the event, narrowing the field to 11.  When the work was complete, Pearl Handle Six Shooters and Bobby Richards walked their way to the winner’s circle for Roger Richards of Hendersonville, Tenn.  Nine Mile High and Chris Richards took home the red streamers for Mr. & Mrs. Charles Brantley of Wartrace, Tenn.  Gen’s NRA and Robert Nelms picked up third for Carole Hargett of Shelbyville, Tenn.

            Class 14 brought four of the six entries expected for the Three-Year-Old Trail Plantation Stallions, Mares & Geldings.  Judge Vernon Stamper served as Call Judge for the event.  Making the strong ride to top the division was the duo of Aesop and Karla Massey riding for James Nichols and Benjamin Bowen of Oxford, Miss. & Randolph, Miss.  Gold Power’s Ebony Dawn and Duane Ripple were reserve for Duane and Connie Ripple of Keosauqua, Iowa.  Tbone Sunday rode to third for William and Alice June Odle of Boswell, Ind.

            The final class of the evening, Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions featured one of the 23 scheduled making the gate call to work on exhibition as Judge Leslie Topham called the gaits.   Capturing the win was Shanghai Ritz and Allen McQuerry in the irons for Laurie Herchenroder of Gaston, Ind.

            With that one final victory pass, the 69th Annual TWHBEA National Futurity was in the record books with a total of 104 entries making the gate call and over at a record time at that, finishing prior to 10 p.m.
            Despite the friction between the TWHBEA and the Walking Horse Trainers Association, the TWHBEA National Futurity carried on once again.