It was that time of year again when many came from all across the country to once again converge on Middle Tennessee to meet, mix and mingle at the annual Walking Horse Trainers' Association Banquet, held on Saturday, December 7, 2013.  This year the event was moved to the beautiful Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and went back to the old tradition of the banquet being the conclusion for the weekend after many meetings and the Grand Prize Giveaway.

This year's banquet had a theme of "Back in Time", with Aimee Lambert and Rocky Mareno serving as trophy presenters. They were dressed to the nines in old time caroler attire. The silent auction was dedicated in memory of Jeff Givens, who for many years dedicated countless hours to the annual silent auction.

Mickey McCormick gave the blessing before dinner was served.

Mark Farrar once again was happy to serve as emcee for the night and handle all the announcing duties, and in his usual fashion, he kept the crowd fully entertained. Starting out the evening, Farrar took a moment to recognize several organizations that play major roles in the walking horse industry. Steve Smith was also introduced as the newly elected president of TWHBEA.

The youth awards were the first honors presented for the evening. Meghan Davis and Ashlea Shepard were called to the stage to presented with the first even Youth Council Achievement Award to the much deserving Allison Thorson. The winner for the Youth Park division went to Anne Evans. Allison Thorson received the reserve honor. Lilly Riddley topped the Performance 11 & Under division, while Counti Green captured second place. The Performance 12-17 division winner was Allison Thorson, with Meghan Davis claiming the reserve award. The Lite-Shod winner was again Allison Thorson with Anne Evans earning the second place honor. Two additional categories were added this year in the Equitation division. First place in the 11 & Under category went to Jayden Jackson followed by Brooklyn Wheelon in second place. Allison Thorson made her way back to the stage to accept the 12-17 division top honor. Allie Holt captured second place. 

The 2013 Scholarship winners were acknowledge next. The Glenn C. Dowell Jr. family proudly sponsor the scholarships.

Five more individuals were inducted into the Trainers' Friendship Club this year, bringing their total to 110 inductees. The Friendship Club was established in 1991 to recognize key individuals who have made a major contribution to the walking horse industry. The Jeff Givens family, Duke Thorson, Jeff Speaks, Doyle Meadows and Don Lominac were presented with a plaque to mark their induction into the club. 

Casey Wright was called to the stage next to be presented with his green blazer embroidered with 2013 for his world grand championship win with I Am Jose'. This honor was started back in 1995 by Frank Neal in honor of then World Grand Champion Pride's Sundance Star.

The auxiliary awards were the next presentations to be made by Jada and Julia Paige Callaway. Susan Coleman was presented with the Celebration award for capturing the world championship title aboard The Indy 500 proud owner Jo Ann Dowell. The High Point Member of the Year honors go to an individual member who has accumulated the most points throughout the year in Auxiliary classes. Shelia Groover received the first place and gold award. Heather Beard was second with the silver award. Susan Coleman was third with the bronze award.

The auxiliary equitation awards followed. Capturing the Equitation 11 & Under category was Jayden Jackson. Allison Thorson topped the next category and earned the Equitation Youth 15-17 award. Kelsey Irvine graciously accepted the Adult Equitation award. 

The auxiliary Rookie of the Year honor went to Julie George. Heather Beard was honored to be voted as the Auxiliary Member of the Year.

The Trainer of the Year award went to two deserving men…Charlie Green and Casey Wright. The pair previously accepted their awards during the last Saturday night of the Celebration. Scott Shepard from Marsha's on the Square presented Casey Wright with a custom riding suit for his world grand championship win with I Am Jose'. The Assistant Trainer of the Year honor was bestowed upon Aaron Self of ThorSport Farms.

Jeffrey Howard was next to come to the stage to present the Riders' Cup awards to both winning trainers and horses. Since it's inception in 2005, the Riders' Cup program has paid out over $600,000 to dedicated trainers who continue to bring top horses to shows all across the country.  

In another close battle for the top spot in the Riders’ Cup program, this year it was Winky Groover capturing the top spot in the performance division. Winky pushed hard throughout the entire year and showed in an impressive 196 classes at shows in seven different states. For his hard work and determination, Winky was with a check in the amount of $13,432.54. 

The pleasure division was also highly competitive to the end. Claiming the Riders’ Cup Pleasure Division Overall honor was Laurie Toone. She entered the ring a total of 63 times to claim the title. For her efforts and determination Laurie was presented with a check in the amount of $1,369.51. Rachel Teague accepted on behalf of Laurie.

Next the Riders’ Cup divisional sponsors were brought to the stage for a group presentation where they were presented with a plaque as a token of appreciation, as well as to applaud them for their generous support. Without each and them, this program would not have been possible. Don Diego/Keith & Lorraine Rosbury are in their third year as sponsors of the Two-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. The Two-Year-Old Open division was sponsored by the Andrew Waites family for the fourth year in a row. Baskin-Irby Construction Co. changed divisions this year and sponsored the Three-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. QE Construction pledged their sponsorship of the Three-Year-Old Open division. This is the fourth year in a row for the QE Construction’s sponsorship, but in a new division this year. Once again the Molly Walters family sponsored both the Four-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division and the Four-Year-Old Open division. They have been a part of the program since 2008. Pushin That Jazz and Robert Cortner stepped up and sponsored the Aged Mare & Gelding division. Sponsoring the Open Specialty division for the second year was the Mississippi Charity Horse Show. This partnership allowed the Mississippi Charity to be a triple-point show. New in 2013, the Young Trainers division was sponsored in loving memory of Andy Adkins. For the second year in a row, the Park Performance division was sponsored by Dr. Jack & Wilsene Moody-Kwok. Sponsoring the Park Pleasure category in the pleasure division, also for the second year in a row was Tamara Hader. Buddy Stasney Buick GMC sponsored the 15.2 & Under division, while The Celebration was the sponsor for the Stake division for the fourth year. 

Next, awards were presented to the winners in each Riders' Cup category. Cash In 1129 topped the Two-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. Dick Peebles and Cash In 1129 showed seven times in Riders' Cup classes in 2013. A Master Sky High won the Two-Year-Old Open title. He was shown by Charlie Green in eight Riders' Cup classes this season. Jazzmine Lady won the Three-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. This mare and Winky Groover showed in Riders' Cup classes this year a total of 14 times. Rio Lobo 7HF won the Three-Year-Old Open division. He was shown in Riders' Cup classes by Winky Groover 19 times this season. Ruby Lipstick topped the Four-Year-Old Mare & Gelding division. John Allan Callaway and Ruby Lipstick showed six times in Riders' Cup classes in 2013. Master’s Razzel And Jazz won the Four-Year-Old Open title. He was shown in 16 Riders' Cup classes by Herbert Derickson. Main Sweetie once again won the Aged Mare & Gelding division, this season with five Riders’ Cup classes. Philip Trimble showed Main Sweetie in Riders' Cup classes this year a total of four times, with Clay Sanderson in the irons for another Riders’ Cup class. That’s My Luck won the Open Specialty division. He was shown in Riders' Cup classes by John Puckett five times. Chillin The Most again topped the Show Pleasure division. Link Webb and Chillin The Most showed 11 times in Riders' Cup classes in 2013. Jose’s Centerfold won the Young Trainers title. He was shown by Casey Wright in four Riders' Cup classes this season. Hello Dollar again won the Park Performance division. This stallion and Link Webb showed in Riders' Cup classes this year a total of 11 times. I’m Breakin Bad topped the 15.2 & Under division. Winky Groover and I’m Breakin Bad showed 14 times in Riders' Cup classes in 2013. A Showdown won the Stake division. He was shown in a total of nine Riders’ Cup classes this season. Jack Way and John Puckett split the saddle time with Way in three classes and Puckett in six. A Mountain Jazz topped the Lite-Shod division. Patrick Thomas and A Mountain Jazz showed nine times in Riders' Cup classes in 2013. Double Shot Of Cash won the Park Pleasure title. She was shown in 12 Riders' Cup classes by Laurie Toone. Double Shot Of Cash again won the Classic Park Pleasure division. Laurie Toone showed Double Shot Of Cash in Riders' Cup classes this year a total of five times.


2013 WHTA Horse of the Year Winners

Two-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding: Jose’s Beyonce

Reserve: The Phenom


Weanling: Good Baby Majors

Reserve: It’s Gametime


Two-Year-Old Amateur Stallion: Popcorn Sutton

Reserve: I’m Handsome Jimmy Valiant


Yearling: Adorable Diamond

Reserve: The Camp Town Lady


Two-Year-Old Mare or Gelding: Jose’s Beyonce

Reserve: The Phenom


Lite-Shod Specialty: 2x The Magic

Reserve (tie): Honor My Cash & Vindicated


Two-Year-Old Stallion (tie): A Master Sky High & Mr. Country Gentleman

Reserve: Five Star’s Jazzman


Lite-Shod Canter: Honor My Cash

Reserve: 2x The Magic


Youth Pony: Roll The Gold

Reserve: Tommy Lee Jones


Trail Pleasure: Honey Badger

Reserve: Eye On The Title


Adult Pony: The Dixie Lineman

Reserve: He’s The Lady’s Man


Country Pleasure: Designer Champagne

Reserve: I’m Manhatten


Novice: Jose’s High Society

Reserve: Jose Miss Dolly


Three-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding: Ruby On Parole

Reserve: Jazz Badazz


Elite (50 Yrs. & Over) (tie): Escape From Alcatraz & Puttin Cash On The Line

Reserve: Trouble On The Line


Three-Year-Old Amateur Stallion: Epic

Reserve: I’m Mayhem


Western Lite-Shod: Lucky Daze

Reserve: Vindicated


Three-Year-Old Mare or Gelding: Wicked Walking Witch

Reserve (4-way tie): Amplified, Lipstick & Lead, Seeking The Title & She’s Intimidating


Western Park Pleasure: Armed & Trigger Happy

Reserve: Dragonfire


Three-Year-Old Stallion: The Bourne Legacy

Reserve: King’s Kode Blue


Fine Harness: Johnny Ritz

Reserve: Breakin Parole


Model (2-way tie): Maxximize & Trigger Treat

Reserve: The Texas Lexus


Ladies Amateur Specialty: Jazz’s Master

Reserve (2-way tie): A Private Benjamin & Jose Miss Dolly


Men’s Amateur Specialty: Jose’s Centerfold

Reserve (5-way tie): Defending The Title, He’s Fred Astaire, I’m Wall Street, Kid Callahan & Trouble On The Line


Amateur Canter: I’m Copperfield

Reserve: The Who


Juvenile Park Pleasure: B B King’s Jazz

Reserve: Double Java


Four-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding: Miss Ebony Rose

Reserve: She’s Limitless


Four-Year-Old Amateur Stallion: Command On Parole

Reserve: Memphis Mafia


Amateur Park Pleasure: Lined Up At The Ritz

Reserve: B B King’s Jazz


Four-Year-Old Mare or Gelding: Ruby Lipstick

Reserve: Silver Fog


Professional Park Pleasure: Lined Up At The Ritz

Reserve: Sam Whiskey


Four-Year-Old Stallion: I’m Coach Cal

Reserve: Jose It Ain’t So


Amateur Park Performance: Ted Who

Reserve (2-way tie): Lucky Silver Dollar & The Concealed Weapon


Amateur Show Pleasure: Godfather By Ultra Copy

Reserve: Spooky Dollar


Professional Park Performance: Hello Dollar

Reserve: Moonshine Man


Five-Year-Old Amateur Stallion: Gin Toddy

Reserve: I’m Pushin N Line


Juvenile 11 & Under: A Cloudy Sky

Reserve: The American General


Professional Show Pleasure: King Of The Jungle

Reserve: Turnbow


Five-Year-Old Amateur Mare or Gelding: Sapphire Gin

Reserve: She’s A Shady Sister


15.2 & Under Amateur Mare or Gelding: Rocky Mountain Sky

Reserve: He’s The Lady’s Man


Juvenile 12-17: Pushin That Jazz

Reserve: Jose’ Caliente


15.2 & Under Amateur Stallion: Boure’

Reserve: Lined Walkin’


Amateur Specialty: A Bruce Pearl

Reserve (2-way tie): Cadillac’s Bum & Jose’s Centerfold


Versatility: Victory Trip


15.2 & Under Mare or Gelding: An American Threat

Reserve: Out On Bond


15.2 & Under Stallion: A Strong Need For Cash

Reserve (2-way tie): BeeBee King & My Kinda Luck


One-Night Horse Show: Woodbury Lions Club

Reserve: Money Tree Classic


Multi-Night Horse Show: North Carolina Championship

Reserve: Columbia Spring Jubilee


15.2 & Over Mare or Gelding: PGA

Reserve: Country And Famous


15.2 & Over Stallion: I Am Jose’

Reserve: Honors