By Mark McGee | Photos by Shane Shiflet

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – Not only did you have to be young at heart, you had to be young in age Saturday morning in Calsonic Arena as all 11 classes featured either youth competitors or weanlings in the 84th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. If the morning was any indication the future of the breed, is bright.

The morning started with perfect attendance as all 14 programmed entries made the gate call made by morning announcer Travis Olinger for the Youth Model Pleasure Mares & Geldings class. Catherine Zeta-Jones and handler Peyton Nelms were the blue ribbon choice for owner Ed Lukacevic from Crittenden, Kentucky. Catherine Zeta-Jones, sired by El Zorro’s Star, is a perfect seven-for-seven in 2022 with two Celebration blues so far. The reserve award went to Mystic Jazz and handler Harper Grider for owners Ronnie and Angela Rushing. She’s Walking On Fire was led to third by Alex Luttrell for Bruce Vaughn.
Ally Jo Jacobs from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, rode to first place in the Auxiliary Equitation Medal Class, Youth Division, Riders 6-11 Years class for the second year in a row. Maddie McMorrow placed second and Ruth Collins took home a yellow ribbon. The class also had perfect attendance with all six scheduled entries competing. Paul Robbins was the call judge. 

I’m Pablo Escobar claimed top honors in the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-17 on English Trail Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings class for owner-rider Riley Gregory of Franklin, Kentucky. It was the fourth blue in a row in six classes in 2022 for I’m Pablo Escobar, sired by The Gangster. Jazz & Everything received a red ribbon with Shane Smith riding for Darrell Collins. Ferdinand tied third for owner-rider Alainna Sharp. There were three programmed entries with four in the class, where Sam Sorrell was the call judge.

Handler Jaron Dotson and I Am Luther James walked to the blue for owner Jesse Dotson, Jr. from Thompson’s Station, Tennessee, in the Owner-Amateur Weanlings class. I Am Luther James, sired by I Am Jose’, has three blues in five classes this year. Here Comes Charlie and handler Amanda Nelms tied second for owners Nelms and Teel. Border Town and owner-handler John Dorris tied third. Fourteen of 18 expected entries were in the class. Amy Trimble was the call judge.

Scarlett O’Hara TS and rider Harper Grider captured top honors in the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 12-17 on English Country Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings class. Owned by Terri Smith from Shelbyville, Tennessee, Scarlett O’Hara TS is sired by He’s Slim Shady and has 10 wins in 14 classes in 2022. Diamond At The Ritz and Lexi Smith were reserve for owners Abi Smith and Kimberly Walden. The yellow ribbon went to Habanero Picante and co-owner Abi Smith on board for co-owner Kimberly Walden. Twelve of 14 riders made the gate call. Calling the class was Jamie Bradshaw.

Let’s Get Rowdy was ready for a party after taking blue ribbon honors with Caroline Stanley riding for Stanley and Swinford from Cynthiana, Kentucky, in Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 on All Day Pleasure Walking Mares and Geldings. Let’s Get Rowdy, sired by Rowdy Rev has shown 30 times this season with seven consecutive blues, 20 total for the show season. Jose’s Leave A Mark was second with Lexi Cofer in the saddle for co-owners Yoder and Manis from Nashville, Tennessee. Tempted walked out with a yellow ribbon with Carter Insell in the irons for co-owners The Tom Insell Family and Kaitlyn Rippy. Fourteen of the scheduled 19 entries worked for call judge John Puckett. 

Fire M’ Up, Charlie and handler Alex Luttrell were fired up to get top honors in the Youth Weanlings, Handlers 6-17 Years class for owner Bruce Vaughn of Valley City, Ohio. Fire M’ Up, Charlie is sired by Walk Time Charlie and has three blues in four class this year. The red ribbon was presented to Here Comes Charlie, also sired by Walk Time Charlie, and handler Peyton Nelms for co-owners Nelms and Teel. Lady Omavol tied third. Madelyn Gannon was the handler for owners Ricky and Lisa Atnip. Sixteen of the 17 planned entries competed with Paul Robbins calling the class.

Betrayal and Sydney Kline claimed the blue in the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Trail Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings class for owner Gassaway of Shelbyville, Tennessee. It was the first unanimous decision of the morning by the five-judge panel. Betrayal is two-for-four in class wins this show season and is sired by Jose’ Jose.’ Reserve was GiGi’s Lunch Money with owner-rider Maddie McMorrow. Sam Sorrell was the call judge. 

Amy Trimble served as the call judge in the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-17 Years on Park Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings class. Just Jose’ It won the blue unanimously with Julia Callaway riding for owner Kim Leonard from Shelbyville, Tennessee. Sired by Jose’ Jose’, it was the fifth blue in 10 classes for Just Jose’ It in 2022. Boston Bay rode out with a red ribbon with co-owner Jocelyn Laughlin in the saddle for co-owner Anne Evans. Double Take Jose’ and Zach Daniels were third for Champion Stables. All seven scheduled entries competed. 

Designer Champagne, a classic horse, won the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Country Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings class for the second year in a row. Alayna Arnold was riding for Kimberly and Perry Walden from Shelbyville, Tennessee. Sired by Design For Love, it was the ninth blue in 13 classes this year for Designer Champagne. First Knight Out was reserve with Ally Jo Jacobs in the saddle for owner Brad Gregory. The third tie was awarded to Out There And Lovin’ It and rider Ava Anderson for owners Bruce and Lee Sinden. Nine of the 10 programmed entries answered the gate call. Jamie Bradshaw called the class.

Closing out the Saturday morning edition was the Auxiliary Equitation, Youth Medal World Grand Championship, Canter class competition. Three of five programmed entries competed for call judge John Puckett. Picking up the first floral horseshoe of the 2022 Celebration, and recapturing the Equitation World Grand Championship title was Riley Gregory of Franklin, Kentucky. John Garrett Burton was reserve, while Kate Cowan received third place honors.