By Mark Davis


            The Monday evening performance of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is always an exciting night because it always highlights several prime classes of preliminary competition including the Two-Year-Old Stallions, Walking Stallions 15.2 and Under and Walking Mares 15.2 and Under.  Tonight, it’s also one of the shorter evening schedules of the 2007 Celebration, so hopefully everyone can enjoy some great competition and be home before Cindarella’s coach turns back into a pumpkin.

            The judging panel for the 69th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Mike Carpenter of Franklin, Tenn., Allen Forman of Thomson, Ga., Justin Jenne’ of Lewisburg, Tenn., Sam Sorrell of Lexington, Ky., and Ronnie Spears of Tullahoma, Tenn.

            As the time drew near to 7 pm, official flag horse Counterfeit Dollar and Bud Seaton appeared at the gate meaning only one thing, it’s showtime in Shelbyville!  The invocation for the evening was given by Bro. Jonathan Sims of Shelbyville Mills Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Tenn., followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Mark Hulsey of Atlanta, Ga.

            Class 102, Owner-Amateur Gentleman Drivers, Fine Harness, opened the evening’s schedule with seven of the 13 with reservations making their way down the hill to the big oval to work as Judge Ronnie Spears served as Call Judge for the event.  Making the drive to the winner’s circle with a unanimous decision of the panel was Clutch’s Power Play and Ben Harrell at the whip for Double Springs Farm of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  With this win and last year’s win with the late On The Money, also owned by Double Springs Farm, they retire The Scott Edwards Memorial Challenge Trophy.  Willie Stargel and Mike Sims were reserve for Allyson Abbott of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  The Classic Horse, Pride’s Sharp Dressed Man and Gavin Kasser were third for Belle Meadow Farm of Wartrace, Tenn.

            Class 103A, Two-Year-Old Walking Stallions brought 34 of the 52 expected to the big oval to work for the approval of the Monday night crowd and the judging panel, which was lead in the section by Call Judge Mike Carpenter.  The panel quickly determined additional work would be needed and advised the contenders that they would be looking for numbers for said purpose.  Fifteen of the original 34 were asked to remain to work for their chance at World Championship acclaim.  What a great class of Two-Year-Olds this turned out to be!  If this is the future of the Performance Tennessee Walking Horse, this reporter would say the future is very bright.  Putting the full court press on the competition, Lebron James and Joel Weaver schooled the competition with an outstanding performance for Brett & Lisa Jones of Tylertown, Miss.   This win added to a strong resume that featured wins at Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Central High School Band Horse Show, Philadephia, Miss.’s Neshoba County Classic and Shelbyville, Tenn.’s Liberty Lions Club Horse Show.  Ozone’s Fully Throttle and Sammy Day pulled in to accept the red streamers for Cannon Harmon of Blowing Rock, N.C.  Knox Blackburn and Probation Officer rounded out the top three for Bud & Suzanne Moore of Catherine, Ala.

            Twenty-nine of the 57 programmed entries made the gate call for class 103B, Two-Year-Old Walking Stallions.  Judge Allen Forman called the gaits in the event.  Ah, this group may be slightly fewer in number, but they are just as strong in talent, getting the crowd excited all around the ring.  Making it a clean sweep of the Two-Year-Old Stallion division, Joel Weaver was back in the winner’s circle again with Arm’s Deal For Real , 2007 champions at the National Walking Horse Trainers’ Show, Gallatin, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show and the Walking Horse Association of Alabama Summer Classic,  riding for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  John Allan Callaway and Out All Night stopped for the second award for Dr. Harv Carlen of Lowell, Mi.  Joselito and Knox Blackburn were third for The Ben Cate Family of Maryville, Tenn.

            Class 104, Owner-Amateur Gentleman Riders on Show Pleasure Walking Horses, featured 14 of the 25 beating the clock to work for World Championship acclaim in the division under the watchful eye of Judge Justin Jenne’ and his staff.  Repeating on their 2006 win in the event, Ironworks Tin Man and Steve Jones were back in the winner’s circle once again riding for Ray Jones Trucking, Inc. of Greenville, Ky. This win was preceded by 2007 victories at the National Walking Horse Trainers’ Show, Gulf Coast Charity Celebration, Columbia, Tenn.’s Spring Jubilee, the Money Tree Classic, Woodbury, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show, Lewisburg, Tenn.’s Marshall County Horse Show and the Pre-Celebration Splash Classic. A Headliner and owner/exhibitor Marty Irby of Murfreesboro, Tenn., were a strong reserve in the division.  The MVP and owner/exhibitor Woody Woodruff of Shelbyville, Tenn. were third.

            Next, the Monday evening crowd was entertained by the riding abilities of Stephanie Smith of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  Miss Smith captured the Equitation World Grand Championship during the Monday Morning performance and keeping with tradition made the ride in the big oval tonight.

            Ah, yes, it was now time for another of the evening’s highlights, class 105, Walking Stallions, 15.2 and Under (Canter).  Nineteen of the 34 with reservations made the call, with the crowd cheering them on as they entered the ring, to work for Judge Sam Sorrell and his cohorts.  Blowing away the competition, just as they did this year at Columbia, Tenn.’s Spring Jubilee and Woodbury, Tenn.’s Lions Club Horse Show, with a unanimous decision of the panel, was the 2006 WC 15.2 & Under Stallion and WGC 15.2 and Under Walking Horse, Santana’s El Nino and Link Webb up for Ringmaster Farms/Michael & Ann Jones of LaFayette, Ga.  With this win, the team retired the Paul Watlington Memorial Challenge Trophy.  Dragonfly and Jimmy McConnell were second in the section for Mary Medina of Skillman, N.J.  Jose’s Emblem and Herbert Derickson rounded out the top three for Pleasant Hill Farm of Columbia, Tenn.

            The Lady riders were up for class 106, Elite Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Stallions with 19 of the 39 expected working down the hill to show their very best for Judge Ronnie Spears and his panel.  Hitting it out of the park once again, John F K’s Pusher and Robin MacDonald made the extraordinary performance to top the division for the third consecutive year for Bruce and Robin MacDonald of Atlanta, Ga. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Black Cash Delight and Gail Walling were reserve for Judy McDonald of Tullahoma, Tenn.  Abel and George Ann Pratt were third for George Ann Pratt of Shawnee Mission, Kansas.

            The Park Performance entries were up next on the schedule in class 107,  Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Performance Walking Stallions, with 15 of the 20 programmed entries working the big oval under the watch of Judge Mike Carpenter and his panel.  Showing they couldn’t hide their talent, The Concealed Weapon and Patti Pollack made the victory ride for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Owner/exhibitor Susan Coleman of Unionville, Tenn. pulled in for the red streamers with Olympic’s Supergizer.  Jimmy Reddy and Central Command were third for Jimmy & Vivian Reddy of Madison, Ga.

            The trainers were back for Class 108, Walking Mares, 15.2 and Under, with 17 of the 23 with reservations beating the clock to work for Judge Allen Forman and his cohorts.  Topping the strong class was Ritzy Zone and Knox Blackburn up for The Anthony Josepth Family of Columbiana, Ala.  My First Dollar and John Allan Callaway were reserve for George Ann Pratt of Shawnee Mission, Kansas.  Gary Edwards and Hosanna were third for Mr. & Mrs. Louis Hawkersmith of Tullahoma, Tenn.

            Adding a little variety to the evening’s schedule, class 109 featured the Owner-Amateur Western Trail Pleasure, Adult Riders (Canter) with 19 of the 28 on the entry sheets making the call to show off their western ways for Call Judge Justin Jenne’ and his staff.  Walking to the top of the division with a unanimous decision of the panel was the duo of Lion King and Miles Irby up for Kristin Williams and Marty Irby of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  Bluegrass Bandit and Jared Carrier stole the reserve honors for Gobblers Knob Farm of Franklin, Ky.  Belinda Mendenhall and Go Go Power garnered the golden streamers for Dr. Jana Anderson of Shelbyville, Tenn.

            Back in the performance division for the final time of the evening, class 110 featured the Owner Amateur Riders on Walking Mares and Geldings with 15 teams making their way down the hill to work for one of the final Celebration blues of the evening as Judge Sam Sorrell called the gaits in the section.  Pushing their way to the winner’s circle, She’s Push In Command and Connie Hess dominated the division for CM, Connie & Lindsay Hess/Zenda Hill Farm of Harrisonburg, Va.  Headed back Carolina way, Royal Luck and Clay Mills were reserve for Lee Mills of Mt. Airy, N.C.  High Jacked and Jim Baum were third for Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn.

            The final class of the evening, class 111, Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Four-Years-Old, featured nine of the 11 programmed entries working in the big oval under the direction of Judge Ronnie Spears and staff.   Riding to the top of the event with a unanimous decision of the panel was I’m Big Bad John and Marty Irby riding for William B. Johnson & Marty Irby of Atlanta, Ga. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  This made John’s second win of the day, as he topped the Four-Year-Old Open class with trainer Howard Hamilton earlier today.  I’m Jeb Stewart and Jennifer LeBlanc were reserve for Kelly & Jennifer LeBlanc of Magnolia, Texas.  Sky Full Of Gold and Patti Pollack were third for Pollack’s Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.

            Yes, indeed, the Monday evening performance featured another great night of hot Celebration competition, even though the temperatures finally cooled off just a little bit.  The extra large crowd of 9,764 in attendance, the third largest Monday night crowd in history, certainly got their money’s worth and more.  The only question from the evening that this reporter can think of is which Two-Year-Old World Champion will Joel Weaver show back on Saturday night?  I’m sure Lake will be glad to step up and catch ride one of them! (ha, ha).   What a problem to have . . .I guess we’ll just have to come back Saturday night and see.

            Make plans now to be back in Shelbyville on Tuesday evening as the action promises to be just as hot as preliminary competition starts to wind down with the evening highlight’s including the Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Mares & Geldings, Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions and Young Trainers on Walking Stallions.  It promises to be another exciting night!