By Mark McGee

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – A gentle breeze set the tone as veterans and first responders shared the spotlight throughout Friday night in “The Big Oval” at the 84th annual Tennessee Walking  Horse National Celebration along with 14 classes of world grand championship competition. Honored for their service to our country, the veterans and first responders were special guests of The Celebration.

Bryan Nerren from the International House of Prayer gave the invocation. Devin Hale, from Lexington, Kentucky, sang a classic rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, as Hall of Fame rider Ronnie Spears presented the colors aboard White Diamond Dollar.

Keon Johnson, a first-round pick last year in the NBA draft visited center ring with his family. He is a member of the Portland Trailblazers.

The second night of world grand championships opened with all six entries answering the gate call from center ring announcer Mark Farrar in the Owner-Amateur Drivers, Fine Harness class. The world grand championship was awarded unanimously by the five-judge panel to In Ted’s Image and owner-driver Ron Lawrence from Lenoir City, Tennessee. It was the third year a world grand championship has been presented in the class and In Ted’s Image and Lawrence have won it all three years, retiring the Mary Kilgore Challenge Trophy. They have seven blues in nine classes in 2022 including a first in the Owner-Amateur Gentleman’s Fine Harness class Monday night. Lt. Horatio Caine, with Alex Blackburn driving for Stacy Blackburn, was reserve. I’m Ritz And Dangerous tied third with Rollie Beard driving for R & D Partners. United States Senator Bill Hagerty spun the wheel which named Sam Sorrell as the call judge. 

Shipwreck with owner-rider Dr. Shana Hughes from Russell Springs, Kentucky, walked to a unanimous world grand championship win, their first ever, in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Country Pleasure Walking Horses, Three Years & Under, Optional Tack class. Shipwreck and Hughes have seven blues in eight classes this year. Sired by Indigo Who and out of Paladin Fancy Cash, the team won the Owner-Amateur Country Pleasure Three-Year-Old class the first Thursday morning of The Celebration. A Knightime Menace earned reserve honors for owner-rider Vickie Moore. Big Booty Judy carried out a yellow ribbon for owner-rider Darren Gray. Sam Sorrell called the class as all four programmed entries competed. 

Charlene Darling was led by Robert Nelms to the Walking Weanling World Grand Championship. Owners Lisa Teel and Lisa Washburn from Fayetteville, Tennessee, also bred Charlene Darling who is sired by Walk Time Charlie and out of She’s Trinity. It was the fourth top award for Charlene Darling and Nelms at this year’s Celebration with both a Celebration and Futurity blue the first Wednesday night in the National Futurity Weanling Fillies class and the Weanling Fillies Monday morning. Fire’ M Up, Charlie and handler Claire Hankins tied second for owner Bruce Vaughn. I’m Luther James and handler Jaron Dotson placed third for owner Jesse Dotson, Jr. Eleven of the expected 12 entries were in the ring with John Puckett calling the class.

The Tiger Lily was ridden to the world grand championship title in the Trail Pleasure Walking Horses, Three Years & Under, Optional Tack, class. Owned by Jordan Howell and South Ridge Farms from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, The Tiger Lily was sired by A Greater Generator and out of Honor Code. The Tiger Lily has blues in six of seven classes this year including the Trail Pleasure Three-Year-Old class the first Wednesday night of The Celebration. Just A Steel Magnolia was reserve with Joe Lester riding for owners Carroll Hutto and Bob Lawrence. It’s Machine Gun Kelly tied third with Jessica Mast in the saddle for Scott and Renee Stasiewicz. Jamie Bradshaw called the class with all three planned entries riding for top honors. 

Chris Brown and the Red Knight made a flyover to honor veterans prior to the start of the Two-Year-Old Mares, World Grand Championship class. Also to honor the veterans and first responders a flag presentation was made with four world grand champions taking to the ring. Leighanne Tibbs aboard Without A Warning, Chris Zahnd and I’m McGregor, Laurie Toone and Mr. Bentley, along with Winky Groove and Command On Parole all wowed the crowd while carrying flags.

I’m A Dixie Dolly was ridden to the first ever Two-Year-Old Mares World Grand Championships for owners Stephen and Nora Capper from Indianapolis, Indiana, by Kayla Baucom. Sired by The Dixie Lineman and out of Jose’s Secret Lady, I’m A Dixie Dolly has two blues in four classes. I Am Sweet Maggie May and Jimmy McConnell were reserve for Beverly Sherman. Jimmer’s Country Girl placed third with Josh Watts aboard for owners Carole and Lee Baxter. The class had perfect attendance with all nine scheduled entries competing with Paul Robbins calling the gaits.

Strike and owner-rider Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tennessee, struck again with back-to-back world grand championships in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Ponies class, repeating their 2021 win. Strike has two wins in six classes this show season. Dark Rain captured reserve honors with Taylor Walters riding for owner Molly Walters. Pappy Van Winkle and co-owner Kim Butler rode to third for co-owner Bruce Butler. Eight of nine programmed entries showed for the class.

My Shockwave and owner-rider Dr. Lynda Brogdon from St. Augustine, Florida, were awarded the world grand championship in the Susan Gordon Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses class. My Shockwave, sired by Lined With Cash and out of Jose’s Grand Lady, has two wins in four classes this year. Cousin Bob and owner-rider Dee Broom claimed reserve. Maroon 5 and Dr. Jim Baum placed third. Seven of 12 programmed entries made the gate call for call judge Sam Sorrell.

For the fourth year in a row, Marty McFly and owner-rider Janice Fostek from Roanoke, Virginia, walked away with the world grand championship in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, 15.2 & Under class. They were the unanimous pick of the judges. Sired by Jose’ Jose’ and out of Silver On The Line, it was the 18th consecutive blue ribbon for Mary McFly dating back to 2019. Marty McFly and Fostek won the Owner-Amateur 15.2 & Under Stallions class Thursday night. A Kingpin and owner-rider Bob Adcock were reserve, while Lil’ Shady with Rae Shumate-Tysor in the saddle for owner Sandy Shumate tied third. Five of eight expected entries were in the ring. Amy Trimble called the class. 

Miss Ebony Rose and John Winston Clark rode to their first ever world grand championship in the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 on Walking Mares or Geldings class. Miss Ebony Rose, sired by Pusher’s Next Generation and out of She’s Barb Wire & Roses, is owned by The Clark Family from Arab, Alabama, and Sudie Reed from Jasper, Alabama. Miss Ebony Rose has six blues in six classes this year including the Owner-Amateur Youth 6-11 Mares class at The Celebration. Dollar’s Silver Collector, a classic horse, was reserve with Graci Jean Ware aboard for owner Tom Ware. The Megalodon was ridden to a yellow ribbon by Gryffin Sexton for Tim Brown and Joe Sexton. Twelve of 13 programmed entries rode for the title. Amy Trimble called the class. 
Roscoe Jenkins and owner-rider Susan Coleman from Unionville, Tennessee, rolled a seven winning the Owner-Amateur Riders on Lite-Shod Walking Horses, Optional Tack, World Grand Championship for the seventh time. They have previous wins in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2021 in the class and are undefeated for the last three years in shows. They won the Owner-Amateur English Lite-Shod class Wednesday morning and have four blues in four shows in 2022. Big Time Bandit and owner-rider Lisa Baum picked up the reserve award, while She’s Charlie’s Girl, with Nancy Evans in the saddle placed third for owner Anne Evans. Jamie Bradshaw called the gaits as all 12 programmed entries competed.

Epic lived up its name for the third year in a row with another world grand Championship win in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Show Pleasure Walking Horses class with Meghan Hammond in the saddle for Shamrock Farms from Shelbyville, Tennessee. Epic and Hammond retired the Betty and Haywood Russell Memorial Challenge Trophy with the unanimous victory. Epic, sired by All-American Cash and out of Dazzle Me Dumas, is five-for-five in wins this year including the Owner-Amateur Ladies Show Pleasure class the first Friday evening. Epic and Hammond are undefeated in the past three years. Acclaim walked out with reserve honors with owner-rider Carolyn Rutner. The Cochise and owner-rider Jannie Chapman were the third-place tie. Jamie Bradshaw was the call judge with 15 of 16 scheduled entries making the gate call.

Sam I Am Jose’ and Alex Rea won their first ever world grand championship as a team in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Horses for Dr. Ann Rea from Columbus, Mississippi. In 2021, Dr. Rea won the world grand championship in the Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Walking Horses class. Alex and Sam I Am Jose’ won the Owner-Amateur Three-Year-Old Stallions class, Section A Tuesday night.. Owner-rider Bob Adcock and Born A Maverick were awarded reserve, while He’s Hot and Sister Milligan rode out with a yellow ribbon. Amy Trimble called the class with 10 of 13 expected riders in the ring.

Checkpoint Charlie SF and co-owner Harper Grider of Columbia, Kentucky, made the spotlight world grand championship ride in the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-17 Years on Trail Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings, Optional Tack, class. Checkpoint Charlie, sired by Walk Time Charlie and out of A New Direction, is co-owned by Tamara Hader of Bainbridge, Georgia, and Jared Carrier from Gallatin, Tennessee. Checkpoint Charlie SF won the Owner-Amateur Flat Shod Canter class the first Wednesday evening of The Celebration, the ninth top finish in 11 classes this year. Grider and Checkpoint Charlie SF also won the world grand championship in the class in 2020. Labeled A Parolee and owner-rider Eliza DeKleyn received reserve. Jazz & Everything was third with Shane Smith aboard for The Collins Family. Jamie Bradshaw called the class with 10 of 11 programmed entries showing. 

In the final class of the night, Mr. True Blue lived up to his name as he was ridden to the world grand championship in the Four-Year-Old Walking Horses, Canter, class by R.M. Kellett for The Jacobs Family from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Three entries made the gate call with Jamie Bradshaw as the call judge. Honor And Remember and Dan Waddell were named the reserve world grand champions for owners George and Kim Lewis. Zorro, Jr., and John Allan Callaway placed third for Beth Beasley. Kellett and Mr. True Blue, sired by I Am Jose’ and out of I’m Lindsey Vonn, are undefeated in five classes this show season including the Four-Year-Old Stallion class Sunday night. It was the first World Grand Championship ever for both Mr. True Blue and Kellett.