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Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

Horsepower...of a different kind

Friday, June 15, 2012

(Photo)
Bob Pellerin of Virginia Beach, Va., makes friends with Red Ruby, who enjoys licking ice cream from his hand at an exhibition of Tennessee walking horses for AACA car show visitors Thursday night.
(T-G Photo by David Melson)
Kisses, dust, horses, dust, and a big cheer for University of Tennessee football. And dust.

Visitors to the dual AACA car shows got to meet and greet two Tennessee walking horses Thursday night inside dusty, steamy Champions Arena at the Celebration Grounds.

As MC and trainer Chad Williams noted, "It's a different kind of horsepower."

New experience

But for some visitors, many who appeared to be as fascinated as children at a petting zoo, the experience was ... different. Especially for those who obviously have little knowledge of walking horses.

"He's soft. His big tongue is like the giraffes," Bob Pellerin of Virginia Beach, Va., said, shortly after planting a big kiss on Red Ruby as the horse licked his hand and grinning rider Laurie Toone watched.

Pellerin had a special trick for making friends with Red Ruby.

"My secret? See, I had ice cream in my hand," Pellerin said, displaying his now cream-less palm.

Fascination

"Look at those teeth!" exclaimed Susan Bond of Chesapeake, Va.

(Photo)
Laurie Toone puts Red Ruby through its paces for cheering AACA car show spectators.
(T-G Photo by David Melson)
One spectator was looking a little lower.

"It's amazing they can walk with those shoes on," a voice in the crowd said.

But Sally Wolfe of Berryville, Va., who said her family owns plantation Tennessee walking horses, was beyond impressed.

"It's absolutely fabulous," Wolfe said. "What do they call it, the gait? I'm so glad they came in here to have a demonstration. They're absolutely magnificent."

Mementos

Spectators were invited to pose for photos with Red Ruby and Toone and Roll The Gold, the pony division world grand champion at the 2011 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, with rider Allison Thorson.

Both riders appeared pleased with the attention as they gracefully answered questions and smiled for the cameras.

Among those with cameras was Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows, who was snapping away with the best of them.

The big show

Thorson and Toone put the horses through their paces in front of a packed house before the meet-and-greet.

(Photo)
Dr. Doyle Meadows, Celebration CEO, takes photos of the horses being exhibited Thursday. With him is Linda Scrivner of the Walking Horse Report.
(T-G Photo by David Melson)
Red Ruby took a few laps around the track, with Williams describing the action, before Roll The Gold and Thorson showed the "big lick."

"This is a performance horse and is padded," Williams explained to the crowd.

"Wowwww!" was heard from some spectators as Thorson showed Roll The Gold's various steps and maneuvers. But the announcement that the pair had ridden at Neyland Stadium before a University of Tennessee football game last season drew the biggest applause.

Finale

The meet-and-greet was followed by a brief, more formal photo session in which the riders and horses posed with a black 1957 Ford Fairlane convertible owned by Celebration City Car Club member Calvin Kincaid of Shelbyville.

A few of the spectators stuck around and shot photos of the horses and the showroom-condition classic car.

Meadows orchestrated the session, telling Toone and Thorson where to park their mounts and thanking them with hugs afterwards.