As the unseasonably cool breeze blew through Calsonic Arena, the vendors were anxiously setting up and the officials were working in center ring, all signs that the first session of the 74th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was about to get underway. The schedule provided an easy day for the judges, exhibitors and fans with only morning classes on the schedule, as the TWHBEA National Futurity, which is traditionally held on Wednesday evening, was moved to a July date. Twelve classes made up the morning schedule highlighted by classes from the Model, Country Pleasure, Trail Pleasure, Lite-Shod, Plantation Pleasure and Park Pleasure divisions.
The judges for the 74th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration include Jennifer Bingham of Shelbyville, Tenn. (Pleasure, Halter & Performance), Chris Bobo of Shelbyville, Tenn. (Pleasure, Halter & Performance), Nathan Clark of Arab, Ala., (Pleasure, Halter & Performance), Brent Grider of Columbia, Ky. (Performance & Halter), Carol Smithson of Clarksville, Tenn. (Pleasure), Connie Waldo of Shelbyville, Tenn. (Pleasure), and Joel Weaver of Shelbyville, Tenn. (Performance & Halter).
As always, promptly at 9 a.m., morning announcer Mark Farrar, Jr., called the session to order and brought the first class of the show, Model Pleasure Walking Mares, to the track. Seventeen of the 18 with reservations made their way in and worked to the rail where they lined up head to tail, as the Model division is judged on presentation and conformation. Walking to the winner's circle and taking home the first World Championship of the 2012 Celebration was the team of Armed Voo Promises and Lynn Womack handling for James and Linda King of Wagner, Okla. This duo preceded this win with the Model Grand Championship at the 2012 International Grand Championships. I'm A Coppertone Girl and Robert Nelms were reserve for Rushing Creek Walkers of Dickson, Tenn. Whimsical Jazz and Russell Keyser were third taking the yellow streamers back across the pond for Bader-Keyser of Wemding, Germany.
Class 2 featured the Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses (Riders' Cup) with the pair of entries with reservations making the call to work for Judge Jennifer Bingham and her panel. Making their presence known on the big stage and making the victory pass in the division was Hello I'm Johnny Cash and Sherri Pollack riding for Pollack's Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif., and Shelbyville, Tenn. Hello I'm Johnny Cash had already had a successful 2012 picking up West Coast wins at the California Classic and the Daniel Pollack Memorial and Middle Tennessee wins at the Tony Rice Horse Show, the International Grand Championships and the Wartrace Horse Show. Gen's Double Action and Rufus Dale pulled into the second position taking the honors home to Canton, N.C.
The Owner-Amateur riders were up next on the morning schedule for class 3, Owner-Amateur Riders on Two-Year-Old Trail Pleasure Walking Horses, Optional Tack (meaning entries could be shown in English or Western tack). Eighteen of the 20 expected worked their way up to the Calsonic Arena track to work for the Pleasure judging panel, led in the class by Judge Chris Bobo. On an interesting note, the 18 entries in the class came from 12 different states. Garnering the approval of the panel in the class was Out There And Lovin' It, a 2012 TWHBEA National Futurity Two-Year-Old Trail Pleasure Champion, and Mackenzie Morgan riding for Amanda Odom and Mackenzie Morgan of Rincon, Ga., and Shelbyville, Tenn. Straight Up Sundrop and owner-exhibitor Kimberly Coult took the red streamers back to Magnolia, Texas. Headed back Ohio way, GiGi's Lunch Money and Bruce Vaughn picked up the yellow ribbon for Jennifer Hankins and Linda Vaughn of Paris, Ky., and Valley City, Ohio.
Class 4 featured the Amateur Owned & Trained Lite-Shod Walking Horses with 13 of the 15 on the official Lions Club program taking the rail to work for Judge Nathan Clark and his panel. Riding away with the blue was the classic horse, meaning one that is 15 years or older, Acapulco with Amanda Dickerson up for Sunset Farms of Fuquay Varina, N.C. This team preceded this win with top honors at Florence, S.C., Dobson, N.C., and the International Grand Championships. Jose' Quervo Gold and owner-exhibitor Joanne Davis Morgan of Unionville, Tenn., were reserve in the good class. Dust Bunny and owner-exhibitor Allison Thorson rounded out the top three taking the streamers home to Huron, Ohio.
The Youth riders were up next on the schedule for class 5, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Park Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings, with three of the four expected taking the rail to work as Judge Carol Smithson called the gaits for the first time of the morning session. Jazzing up the morning performance was the duo of B B King's Jazz and Jackson Stephens, 2012 champions at the Spring Fun Show, making the victory pass for Stephens and Womack of Grayson, Ky. The Grizzly and Landon Callicutt pulled into the second position for David Mesimer of Statesville, N.C. Wham! And Alana Northern were third for Jim Gillentine of Muncie, Ind.
Back in the Trail Pleasure division, class 6 featured the Owner-Amateur Riders on English Trail Pleasure Walking Horses with 16 of the 19 on the books working to the track to show their best moves for Judge Connie Waldo and her cohorts. Striding down victory lane for the second consecutive year was GiGi's Majestic. In 2011, Janet Howell was in the irons for son, Jordan Howell. This year, Jordan took his horse back and made that victory ride himself taking the honors home to Murfreesboro, Tenn. Jordan and GiGi's Majestic had already had a very good 2012 show season, picking up wins at the Gulf Coast Charity Celebration, the International Grand Championships and the Marshall County Horse Show. Jose's Firecracker and Wayne Westbrook were second in the very talented class riding for Bob and Wayne Westbrook of Shelbyville, Tenn. Confederate Jazz and Kasey Kesselring collected the yellow streamers for the Kesselring family of Montverde, Fla.
It was time to get in the western way for class 7, Western Park Pleasure Walking Horses, Four-Years & Under (Riders' Cup) with eight of the 12 with reservations beating the clock for their chance to work for 2012 Celebration acclaim as Judge Jennifer Bingham called the gaits. Bringing their luck to Shelbyville, along with a very impressive performance was the team of Lucky Daze and Patrick Thomas riding for Kevin and Lisa Kessel of Moorefield, W.Va. This duo made the winning ride with a unanimous decision of the judging panel. Prince Jose and Bruce Hankins were reserve riding for Anne Frank and Kevin Riecke of Christiana, Tenn. Break Me Out and owner-exhibitor Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn., broke out of the lineup for third.
Lite-Shod Walking Horses (Canter) (Riders' Cup) was up next on the schedule in class 8 with two entries making the call to work for Judge Chris Bobo and his staff. It was the first time on the morning schedule that the Wednesday morning crowd had gotten to see the horses perform at the canter. Riding to the winner's circle was Justifiable and Laurie Toone capturing the top honors with a unanimous decision of the panel for Kasey Kesselring of Montverde, Fla. Rain's Dude and owner-exhibitor Carmen Franck of Montpelier, Wash., were reserve.
The Country Pleasure entries made their first appearance of the 74th Annual Celebration in class 9, Owner-Amateur Riders on English Country Pleasure Walking Horses. Twenty-one of the 26 on the official Lions Club Program took the rail to work in the class. Judge Nathan Clark led the judging panel in the section. Riding out of the big class with the win was Designer Champagne with Maggie Moore up for Jim Leek and Maggie Moore of Albany, Ga., and Murfreesboro, Tenn. This marked this team's 13th win of the 2012 show season. I'm Rose Walker and owner-exhibitor Lauren Hamilton took the red streamers back to Cedar Grove, Tenn. I'm Shake N Bake and B.J. Richards were third for Glenda Levin and B.J. Richards of Jamestown, Tenn.
Back in the professional division, class 10 featured the Lite-Shod Walking Horses, Three & Four-Years-Old (Riders' Cup). All 15 of the expected teams made the gate call to work for Judge Carol Smithson and her panel. Absolut Skyy and Hannah Pulvers topped the division and rode away with the World Championship honors for Pulvers, Howell and Anderson of Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, Tenn. This win was preceded with 2012 wins at the Mississippi Charity Horse Show, the MTSU Pre Vet Horse Show, the Bedford County 4-H Horse Show, PWHAT Carthage Horse Show and the International Grand Championships. Lil Wayne and Bobby Richards were reserve in the class for Jeff Gillespie of Tazewell, Va. Kick Start Jazz and Steve Sanders were third for Justin Manis and Charlene Richardson of Mt. Juliet, Tenn.
The Trail Pleasure horses were up next on the program in class 11, Owner-Amateur Riders on Three-Year-Old English Trail Pleasure Walking Horses. Twelve of the 13 expected made the call and came to work for the approval of Judge Connie Waldo and her cohorts. Setting the competition on fire with their Wednesday morning performance was Fuego and Ashley Say riding for Allison Thorson and Ashley Say of Huron, Ohio and Victoria, Miss. This was Fuego's 16th win of the 2012 show season. Wicked Endeavor and Miles Irby pulled into the second position for Allen, Irby and Anderson of Pleasonton, Calif., and Shelbyville, Tenn. Juan Carlos and Lisa Weaver were third for Lisa Weaver and Lilly Holland of Doyline, La., and Decatur, Ala.
The final class of the morning performance, class 12, featured the Owner-Amateur Riders on Country Pleasure Walking Horses, Two & Three-Years-Old, Optional Tack with 13 entries making the call to work as Judge Jennifer Bingham called the gaits for the class. Wicked Image and Dr. Jana Anderson rode their way to the win for Dr. Jana Anderson of Shelbyville, Tenn. This was Wicked Image's ninth win of 2012. I'm Shake N Bake and B.J. Richards were reserve in the class for Glenda Levin and B.J. Richards of Jamestown, Tenn. Miss Lady Antebellum and Tamara Hader were third taking the honors back to Bainbridge, Ga.
With that final victory pass, the first session of the 74th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was history and in the record books, and it certainly was a successful performance. Cool Temperatures, large classes and quality horses made for an enjoyable morning session that was complete at 12:15 p.m. The morning classes will resume on Thursday morning with a 10-class schedule starting promptly at 9 a.m., and the morning sessions will continue on Friday, Saturday and Monday mornings at 9 a.m., each day. Come see history being made and be a part of what's bound to be one great Celebration!