By Mark Davis

After a late night on Thursday night that finished up about 12:30 am on Friday morning, it was time to get the action underway bright and early on Friday Morning at 9 a.m. 

The morning’s schedule featured 13 classes of competition highlighting the Trail Pleasure, Lite Shod, Park Pleasure, Show Pleasure and Halter divisions, many featuring the young riders of our industry, giving enough variety to keep even the most casual of horse show fans entertained throughout the morning and midday.

The judges for the 70th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Rollie Beard of Lewisburg, Tenn., Nathan Clark of Arab, Ala., Jamie Hankins of Paris, Ky., Tommy Howell of Shelbyville, Tenn., and Mack Motes of Eagleville, Tenn.

Promptly at 9 a.m., morning announcer Mark Farrar, Jr., called the first class of the performance to the ring, class 34, Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 6-17 on Novice Plantation Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings, Lite Shod.  All ten of the teams expected made their way up to Calsonic Arena to work for their very first Celebration blue as Judge Jamie Hankins called the gaits in the event.  Riding her way out of the Novice division and picking up that memorable first Celebration win was Miss Stratton Weaver riding Armed’s Scarlett O’Hara down victory lane for Kerri Laughlin and Kristy Weaver of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Move It Or Lose It!, and Scarlett Henderickson pulled in for the second award for Marzinzik, Henderickson and Carrier of Saugus, Calif.  Matt Josey and Cash’s Midnight Patriot collected the yellow streamers for Johnson and Josey of Locust, N.C.

The trail pleasure entries were up next on the schedule with 26 of the 32 on the books working to the ring for class 35, Amateur Owned and Trained Western Trail Pleasure, No Professional Training within 90 Days.  Judge Tommy Howell led the panel in this event.  Picking up their second blue of the 70th Annual Celebration, Playin’ Hooky and Liz Gassaway of Shelbyville, Tenn., topped this division for the second consecutive year.  By the way, it was with a unanimous decision of the judging panel.  Princess Power and owner/exhibitor Jared Carrier of Franklin, Ky., rode to the reserve honors.  Connie Waldo and Lion King were third for Waldo & Leek, LLC of Cedar Creek, Texas and Shelbyville, Tenn.

Class 36 featured the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Show Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings with nine of the 16 anticipated working the track as Judge Mack Motes served as Call Judge for the class.  Taking home the win in the section was Generator’s Top Dollar and Brandon Ailshie riding for McCoury and Tipton of Green Mountain, N.C.  Taylor Digh and General Quarters rode into the second position for Dalton Puckett of Wartrace, Tenn.  Another local team, Carolina Confederate and Isaac McGee picked up the golden streamers for Laura McGee of Shelbyville, Tenn.

It was time to get back in the western way for class 37, Owner-Amateur Riders on Western Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod.  Sixteen of the 21 with reservations made the call as Judge Rollie Beard called the gaits in the event.  Taking the honors home to the Lone Star state was the striking grey Marquita By Design and owner/exhibitor Kelly Sherman of Dallas, Texas.  Another Texas duo, Drop The Hammer and Judy Leek were reserve for Waldo & Leek, LLC of Cedar Creek, Texas and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Joanne Davis and Jose’ Quervo Gold were third for Williamson and Davis of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The young riders were back for class 38, Owner-Amateur Youth Western Trail Pleasure, Riders 6-11 Years with 19 of the 21 programmed entries working the rail to show off their very best for Call Judge Nathan Clark and his panel.  Traveling down victory lane in the division was Mackenzie Morgan and Mr. Jessie James topping the event for Ann Jameson and Mackenzie Morgan of Union, W.V., and Bell Buckle, Tenn.  Brother Hunter Morgan and Jose’s Sweet & Spicey were close behind in the second position for Lisa Weaver and Hunter Morgan of Doyline, La., and Bell Buckle, Tenn.  Headed down to the Sunshine State, Delight Silver Design and Taylor Gray rounded out the top three for Darren Gray of Clermont, Fla.

The young horses took center stage in the next class, Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Two and Three Years Old, class 39 on the morning’s schedule.  Judge Jamie Hankins led the team in this section that featured 22 of the 33 expected working for World Championship acclaim.  Riding to her second blue of the morning session, Kelly Sherman of Dallas, Texas teamed up with Priscilla Cash to capture the win with the approval of all five judges on the panel.  Trainer Bruce Hankins took the young mare to the winner’s circle in the open division on Thursday morning.  Pusher’s Wicked Dreamer and Carthel Smith were a popular reserve for Mr. & Mrs. Carthel Smith of Lexington, Tenn.  Moonshine Man and Jacob Duke garnered the yellow ribbon for Robert Cunningham of Talladega, Ala. 

Youth in general was the highlight of class 40, the TWHBEA Youth Weanlings, Handlers 6-17 Years, as the youngest horses of the showring and their young handlers took their moment in the spotlight.  Seventeen of the 19 programmed entries got all dressed up and ready to show off their very best as Judge Tommy Howell and his cohorts attentively watched every step.  Proving to be a deadly combination for the competition, Natalie Johnson and Skyanide captured the win in the class for Fred and Vicki Benjamin of Humboldt, Tenn.  Good Til The Last Drop and B.J. Richards pulled in for the red streamers for The Womack and Say Families of Fairview, Tenn.  NV-ME and Sara Mullin accepted third for Washburn and McGee of Fayetteville, Tenn.

Keeping the young riders on center stage, class 41 was the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Plantation Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings, Lite Shod with eight of the nine teams expected taking to the rail as Judge Mack Motes called the gaits.  Riding out of the Novice division earlier today, Stratton Weaver and Armed’s Scarlett O’Hara returned to dominate this division and pick up the win with a unanimous decision of the judging panel.  The Storm Pusher and Ashley Gordon were second for Stonegait Farms of Orange, Calif.  Ashley Latham and Senator’s Grand Finale were third for Diane Hasty and Ashley Latham of Hartselle, Ala.

Owner-Amateur English or Western Trail Pleasure, Four-Years-Old, Adult Riders was up next, Class 42.  Eighteen of the 22 on the books made their way up from the warm up ring prior to the expiration of the time clock to show for Judge Rollie Beard and his cohorts.  Taking home their second win of the 70th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was the team of Santa Amelia and owner/exhibitor Jared Carrier of Franklin, Ky.  The team also topped the Amateur Western Trail Pleasure event on Thursday morning.  Lion King and Connie Waldo were reserve for Waldo & Leek, LLC of Cedar Creek, Texas and Shelbyville, Tenn.  A Jazz Angel and Kathy Anderson accepted the yellow streamers for John and Kathy Anderson of Winter Park, Florida and Shelbyville, Tenn.

Class 43 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders 50 and Over on Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod up to the track to work with 19 of the 24 expected working under the watch of Judge Nathan Clark and his panel.  Riding away with the win, and a unanimous decision of the panel, was Elegance Of Design and owner/exhibitor Nancy Lovato of Lehi, Utah.  Judy Leek and Drop The Hammer was close behind in the reserve position for Waldo & Leek, LLC of Cedar Creek, Texas and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Jose Quervo Gold and Curtis Williamson picked up the third award for Williamson and Davis of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Back in the youth division, class 44 featured four of the eight expected for Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Park Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings.  Judge Jamie Hankins served as Call Judge for the event that really got the Friday Morning crowd fired up.  Chandler Byrom is a familiar sight on the Middle Tennessee circuit in the Lead Line division, but since this is his final year there, he can move up to the under saddle division as well and move up did he.  He teamed up with Rodney Dangerfield at the Spring Hill, Tenn., Lions Club Horse Show, capturing the win there and didn’t look back as he garnered World Championship acclaim in this division with the approval of all five judges and the crowd for Wardell Head of Jigger, La.  JFK’s Fancy Lady Leslie and Jessie Laughlin accepted the red ribbon for 4-J Land and Cattle Co., of Waynesville, Mo.  Brandon Ailshie and Ice Man’s Sweet Thing picked up the yellow streamers for Rick and Lisa McCoury of Green Mountain, N.C.

Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Two-Years-Old, Lite Shod was up next on the schedule, class 45, with 13 of the 20 with reservations working through the gaits under the direction of Call Judge Tommy Howell.  Claiming the win was Sippin’ Tennessee Gin and Kevin Marker sending the honors back Texas way for Dave and Joy Buck of Conroe, Texas.  Jeff Laughlin and Nuclear Weapon were reserve for Bonnie Cady of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Addicted To Poison and Robert Nelms were third for David Heramb of Rydal, Ga.

The final class on the morning schedule was class 46, TWHBEA Youth Yearling Fillies or Geldings, Handlers 6-17 Years with 13 of the 14 expected making the gate call to show off for Judge Mack Motes and his cohorts.  Walking to the top of the event was My Miss Melanie and Taylor Morgan leading for Jones, Richards and Barker of Tylertown, Miss., Hendersonville and Franklin, Tenn.  Bob Marley and B.J. Richards were reserve for Chris Richards of Franklin, Tenn., while Bambini and Natalie Johnson were third for Jack Heffington of Shelbyville, Tenn.

With that, another morning performance was in the record books, three down, with two more to go on Saturday and Monday mornings.  Of course, the action will continue each evening in the big oval starting each night at 7 pm.  The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration . . .providing excitement at every turn.  Don’t miss out!