by Stephanie Rose and Linda Scrivner

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Exhibitors swarmed from everywhere to hear the pounding of hoof beats which begins the fall procession of shows from across the nation. The Walking Horse Owners’ Association’s International Grand Championship Performance Walking Horse Show is a fall tradition. The 31st International was held at Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tenn. This show, with its exceptional talent and plentiful entries, serves as the kickoff for the heavy fall show season of multi-day events that marks the end of the 2009 show season. If this show is an example of what is to come this fall, the walking horse industry will have a successful conclusion.

The show consisted of three nights and 64 classes with 579 entries showing, compared to 559 in 2008 and 543 in 2007. Show Manager Tommy Hall was extremely pleased and appreciated all the owners and trainers who chose to show at this year’s International.

Having the honor of judging this excellent event were Paul Livingston, Newton Parks and Scott Beaty. The entries were extremely competitive with many past and current world champions and world grand champions showing. The judges agreed unanimously 28 times or just over 44 percent.

On Saturday night, 10 of the nation’s finest stallions were on center stage competing for the International Grand Championship title. Knox Blackburn and World Champion He’s A Weekend Warrior continued their undefeated season for owners Dr. Jim and Kay Green by earning this title unanimously after a hard fought battle. This team also claimed stake titles at Grinder’s Switch Show, Columbia Spring Jubilee and Money Tree Classic.

The reserve championship went to two-time Reserve World Champion and Reserve World Grand Champion Ozone’s Cut Above All and John Allan Callaway for Sharon Thomas. He also was undefeated with previous season blues at Bedford County 4-H Spring Festival and the Woodbury Lions Club Show. Third place was awarded to current World Champion and Reserve World Grand Champion Ironwork’s Tin Man and Chad Way for Ray Jones Trucking, Inc. They also entered the ring with a stake victory at Wartrace this season, as well as five previous world championships and two world grand championships.

The talent in the class all the way through the ribbons was amazing and thrilled for the crowd. The team of Jimmy McConnell and Up For Parole were fourth for Robert and Janelle Jones. Their previous 2009 stake wins were at the Purchase Area Charity, the Hardeman County Rescue Squad Show and the Dickson County Show, and this was the stallion’s first season in the aged division. Fifth went to World Grand Champion Jose’s All Pro and Bill Bobo for Daniel Rowsick, who won the Smith County Stake this season. Add to this five other talented stallions and you can see why the crowd was excited to see this and other equally loaded classes. There were many excellent classes all filled to the brim of compliant walking horses.

This was an amazing beginning to the fall show season and gave spectators a taste of what is still to come this season.

Complete results and judges’ cards may be viewed by clicking here.