By Sarah Smith

The final morning session of the 83rd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration kicked off in Calsonic Arena promptly at 9 a.m. with Travis Richardson at the microphone, serving as the morning announcer.

The judging panel of Chris Bobo, Derek Bonner, Brent Grider, David Sisk and Dale Watts took their place in center ring, ready to see the talent of the morning. Brian Perry was at the organ while Shane Shiflet and his crew had their camera charged and ready to capture all the memories.

The grounds were buzzing with excitement as owners, trainers, exhibitors and spectators prepared for their chance at world championship honors. Cooler temperatures and an overcast sky were welcomed after days of scorching summer heat, although the forecast for the next several days looks to be quite wet. In addition to the normal excitement of being at The Celebration, it was great to see a large group of students from Thomas Magnet School enjoying the show. 

The first class of the morning was the Mare & Foal class. Four pairs answered the gate call to work for the judges. In a repeat from their National Futurity win last week, Well Hello Darlin and Dancin’ With My Darlin’ walked their way to the winner’s circle with a unanimous win. Lynn Womack and Emery Sims led the pair for Bobby Jones and Dr. Roger Richards. Reserve went to Whoopin’ It In Command and The Dixie Linebacker with Chris Hazelwood and Chet Mills at the leads. The yellow streamer went to Caroline’s City Limits and Mayham. Owner Megan Gates and Jimmy Norris let the team.

Up next was the Owner-Amateur Western Trail Pleasure. Continuing their undefeated season, Machete and proud owner Susan Coleman were called to the winner’s circle to claim a unanimous world championship. The team had five previous wins this season. Reserve in the class went to stable mate, Honey Badger and LaMar DePoyster. This was the third show ring appearance for Honey Badger this season. The team earned wins at the Columbia Spring Jubilee and the Money Tree Classic before making their way to the Celebration. Third in the class went to Retribution and Gerold Ross. Gerald and Julie Ross own the talent that is under the direction of Golden Oaks Equestrian Center.

Papacito and Chris Zahnd dominated Calsonic Arena in the Western Park Pleasure class. Karen Bean is the proud owner of the newly crowned world champion. Bean and Papacito earned their own reserve world title during the first session of the show. Howard Hamilton was aboard A Titleist Masterpiece to claim the reserve honors for Champion Stables. Picking up the third place award was Armed But Kid’n and Jeff Laughlin for Sister Milligan. 

The youngsters were next to take the track. The World Championship in the Weanling Colts class of 2021 foal welcomed two sharp contenders to vie for top honors. It was Tee Martin and Robert Nelms that walked their way down victory lane with approval of all five judges. This was the second world championship for the young talent this week. The duo also earned a National Futurity win. The reserve world championship went to Toreador and Jaron Dotson for the Williams and Dotson partnership.

Up next was the Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Lite-Shod Walking Horses. Seven entries made the gate call in hopes of winning their first Celebration blue. Making their way from the lineup and down victory lane was Coachman and Michael Chandler. Coachman and Chandler are no longer novice and earned the title with a unanimous decision. Emily Kiser Jackson was all smiles as she and Blue’s Big Shot left the ring with the red streamer and the title of reserve world champion. Tim Towns was aboard Johnny Was to claim third in the class.

The next gate call was for the Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders on their Novice Trail Pleasure entries. Jazz & Everything and Shane Smith earned their second world title of the show as the duo also won the Owner-Amateur Youth 12-17 English Trail Pleasure on Saturday morning. Sydney Klein was aboard Betrayal to pick up the red streamer. Betrayal is owned by Sydney Klein and Gassaway and they ride under the Circle T Stables banner. Exiting the ring with the third award was Jackson Laughlin aboard Meltdown for Evans, Johnson and Laughlin.

Five top entries took the track next to perform for the judging panel in the Weanling Fillies of 2021 Foal. Continuing their undefeated season, My Hopes And Dreams with Amanda Wright at the lead made their way down victory lane. With this win, the George Wright Family retired the Jim and Jane Vickers Memorial Challenge Trophy. The Wright family won the same class in 2016, 2018 and now in 2021. Lynn Womack led the Reserve World Champion, Dancin’ With My Darlin’ for Bobby Jones and Dr. Roger Richards. The duo was part of the World Champion Mare and Foal team earlier in the day. Sheza Firehouse and Robert Nelms carried home the third award for Perry and Kimberly Walden.

Four talented lady riders and their Western Lite-Shod entries were next to work for the judges. It was the team of Big Time Bandit and Lisa Baum earning a unanimous win. Big Time Bandit carried Patrick Thomas to the winner’s circle earlier in the show. Picking up the reserve honor in the talent filled class was The Red Falcon and Joyce Hofstee. Closing out the top three was Miss Dixie Flyer and Donna Byard.

Four-Year-Old Country Pleasure horses with their Owner-Amateur Riders were up next on the schedule and eight top entries made the gate call with hopes of earning a world title. Continuing their sweep at the Celebration, Perfect Timing BC and Skylar Sensat picked up their second world championship. Cooper Moore also directed the champion to a world title on Friday morning. Jennifer Bingham was aboard WTV Supply And Demand to earn the reserve title for Keller and Bingham. Late For A Date and Connie Holbrook excited the ring with the yellow streamer.

Owner-Amateur Riders on Five-Year-Old Country Pleasure horses took their turn in Calsonic Arena. After the cards were tallied, it was the team of Stapleton and Maggie Moore making the trip down victory lane. Reserve in the class went to Lujoso and Amanda Manis for the Pope and Manis partnership. The Big Bang PL and Christy Duvall earned the third place award. All three ride under the direction of Joe Lester Stables.

Owner-Amateur Novice Riders on Novice Trail Pleasure horses brought eight top entries to the ring in hopes of earning a world championship. The crowd went wild as Freda Dean rode Hannibal DSG to the winner’s circle. This was the third outing for the duo this season. Reserve in the class went to Scarlett O’Hara TS and Terri Smith. The third place award went to Olive Or Twist and Amy Spinelli. 

Professional riders were next to the arena on Trail Pleasure Four and Five-Year-Old horses. Daddy’s Home DH and Jessica Hlebak topped the class full of deep competition for the Simons Family. King Mojo and Hannah Myatt made the reserve ride for LaMar DePoyster. Mr. Bentley and Laurie Toone picked up the third place honor for Ashley Wadsworth.

Dixie’s Legacy with Sister Milligan aboard earned the Owner-Amateur Riders on Five & Under Park Pleasure Horses World Championship. This is the second world title for Dixie’s Legacy. My Maserati Alfieri and Karen Bean rode to the reserve award in the class while Wanted THF and Amanda Manis earned the third award.

The final class of the morning brought six Adult Equitation riders to Calsonic Arena. Exhibitors showed off their riding skills by performing all three gaits during rail work, addressing their reins in the lineup and then performing a pattern that included dropped stirrups while cantering a circle. When the cards were tallied, Allison Thorson made the trip to the winner’s circle. With this win, riders of Leigh Stuart Stables sweep the Equitation division at the Celebration. Reserve went to Jayden Jackson. Jackson was the 2020 Youth Equitation World Grand Champion. Third in the class went to Alice Klein.

The show will resume in The Big Oval at 5 p.m. tonight in hopes of dodging some of the rain that is moving in.