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 Naples, Fla. (Pleasure), and Joel Weaver of Shelbyville, Tenn. (Performance & Halter).
The invocation for the evening was given by Rev. Lloyd Doyle of First United Methodist Church, Shelbyville, Tenn., followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Stephen Smith of Murfreesboro, Tenn.
As official flag horse, Counterfeit Dollar and Bud Seaton headed back up the hill, it was time to call class 139 Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-17 Years on Park Pleasure Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship. Three of the four with reservations made their way down the hill for their chance at a spotlight ride tonight as Judge Carol Smithson called the gaits in the class. Making that unforgettable spotlight ride with a unanimous decision of the panel was B B King's Jazz and Jackson Stephens up for Stephens and Womack of Grayson, Ky. Lindsey Landrum and Santana's Coin were reserve for McNeely, Landrum and Cortner of Blowing Rock, N.C., Franklin and Winchester, Tenn. Fog At The Ritz and Abbey Fleming were third for Jim Upchurch of Jackson, Tenn.
Class 140 brought the Novice Riders on Novice Trail Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship to the historic big oval with eight of the nine on the program beating the clock to work for their first set of Celebration roses. Judge Connie Waldo served as Call Judge for the event. As the spotlight searched looking for the next World Grand Champion in the division, it finally settled on the team of Line Item Veto and Rachel Jernigan up for Rachel Jernigan and Bo Teague of Shelbyville, Tenn. This duo claimed the Novice Western Trail Pleasure and Amateur Three-Year-Old Western Trail Pleasure World Championships on Thursday morning. Juan Carlos and Fred Weaver pulled into the second position in the event for Lisa Weaver and Lily Catherine Holland of Doyline, La. and Decatur, Ala. GiGi's Lunch Money and Bruce Vaughn were third for Jennifer Hankins and Linda Vaughn of Paris, Ky. and Valley City, Ohio.
The performance horses made their first appearance of the evening in class 141, Elite Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses World Grand Championship. Sixteen of 19 on the official Lions Club program worked to the track to show for their chance at the tri-colors as Judge Jennifer Bingham called the gaits. For those unaware, the Elite division is for those riders who are 50 Years of Age and Over. It was an excellent class, but there could only be one team that would ride away with the World Grand Championship title in the class and that would be the Classic Horse, meaning one 15 Years or Older, John FK's Pusher and Robin MacDonald up for Bruce and Robin MacDonald of Atlanta, Ga. This is not the first time this team has ridden away with the roses in this division as they topped the Elite division in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 and they were back tonight with the roses. Kid Callahan and Ed Breedlove pulled into receive the red streamers for Keith Breedlove of Buford, Ga. Play Something Country and owner/exhibitor Jeff Smith of Greer, S.C., rounded out the top three in the class.
It was time to get in a western frame of mind for class 142, Western Park Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship (Riders' Cup). Six of the eight expected worked to the rail in hopes of impressing the judges and the Thursday night crowd as Judge Jennifer Bingham called the gaits. When the work was complete, it was the popular and stylish team of Armed & Trigger Happy and Patrick Thomas riding with the roses for Cassique Plantation/Fred and Bernice Rowan of Bluemont, Va. This team won their Western Park Pleasure Open Specialty event on Monday Morning. Dragonfire, a Classic Horse, and owner/exhibitor Jim Heiting pulled in for the reserve honors taking them home to Riverside, Calif. Double Shot Of Cash and Laurie Toone were third for Tamara Hader of Bainbridge, Ga.
The young riders were up next on the evening's program in class 143, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship. All 15 of the expected teams made the long trip down from Calsonic Arena to work for their chance at the roses tonight as Judge Chris Bobo led the panel in the event. It was a great class, but only one could make that ride of a lifetime tonight and that team was The American General and owner/exhibitor Sellers Veazey of Tifton, Ga. This duo topped the Youth 11 and Under Gelding division on Friday night. Anyone who took a look at tonight's edition of the Walking Horse Report saw the priceless victory pass photo from the preliminary class of young Sellers with an absolutely priceless smile. Ah, it was certainly a Celebration moment! Jose's Delightful Pusher and Landon Callicutt was reserve for John Callicutt of Seagrove, N.C. The Prime Suspect and Eli Davis rounded out the top of the class for Shamrock Farms of Shelbyville, Tenn.
During a break in the action it was time to draw for tonight's Steppin' Into Cash drawing. Tonight's winner of $1,000.00 sponsored by Lee Adcock Construction of Shelbyville, Tenn., was Darlene Buckner of Lancaster, S.C.
Class 144 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on English Trail Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship to the ring with six of the seven on the books beating the clock to work for their very own set of roses as Judge Chris Bobo called the gaits. Riding away with the roses in the event was GiGi's Majestic and owner/exhibitor Jordan Howell of Murfreesboro, Tenn. This team topped the English Trail Pleasure preliminary on Wednesday morning and was Reserve World Grand Champions in 2011. Confederate Jazz and Kasey Kesselring accepted the reserve title for the Kesselring family of Montverde, Fla. Jose's Firecracker and Wayne Westbrook were third for Bob and Wayne Westbrook of Shelbyville, Tenn.
Fourteen of the 18 on the program for class 145, Owner-Amateur Riders on Show Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship, made their way down the hill to the big oval to show for the Thursday night crowd, who were slightly damp from a brief rain shower, but holding on strong. Judge Nathan Clark led the panel in the large class. Making that spotlight ride in the class with a unanimous decision of the judging team was Godfather By Ultra Copy and Courtney Luttrell up for Courtney and Alex Luttrell of Alvaton, Ky. and Shelbyville, Tenn. With this win, coupled with their win in 2010, this team retired the Bedford County and Bedford County Board of Commissioners Challenge Trophy and the Bobby Luna Memorial Challenge Trophy. Turnbow and Lynn Womack were reserve for Womack and Sims of Murfreesboro, Tenn. Spooky Dollar and Stephanie Elliott were third for Stephanie Elliott and Danny Gattis of Tuscumbia, Ala.
The Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, 15.2 and Under, World Grand Championship, class 146, was up next on the evening's schedule. Eight of the 10 expected made the call to work for their spotlight moment as Judge Brent Grider called the gaits in the class. Making the repeat win in the division was the team of I'm P. Diddy and Sherri Pollack up for Pollack's Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. and Shelbyville, Tenn. With their 2011 and 2012 wins in this class, the team retired the Final Keeper Challenge Trophy, the Radford Hulan Challenge Trophy and the Steve Hill Memorial Challenge Trophy. He's Shady In Black and Lee McGartland were reserve for Mike and Lee McGartland of Ft. Worth, Texas. Boure' and owner/exhibitor Tam Brogdon carried the third award back to Panama City Beach, Fla.
The pleasure horses were back for class 147, Country Pleasure Walking Horse World Grand Championship. Fourteen of the 16 entries on the official Lions Club program supplement took to the track to work for Judge Nathan Clark and his cohorts in hopes of riding back out a World Grand Champion! Capturing that title for 2012 was Wicked Image and Dr. Jana Anderson was up for Dr. Jana Anderson of Shelbyville, Tenn. This team topped the Two and Three-Year-Old Country Pleasure preliminary on Wednesday morning and the Novice Country Pleasure division on Thursday Morning. Bustline and Vicki Benjamin headed back to West Tennessee with the reserve honors for Fred and Vicki Benjamin and Mackenzie Morgan of Humboldt and Shelbyville, Tenn. Designer Champagne and Maggie Moore rounded out the top three in the class for Jim Leek and Maggie Moore of Albany, Ga. and Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Performance Walking Horses World Grand Championship was up next on the evening's schedule, class 148. Fifteen of the 17 expected answered official announcer Bobby Sands' call and came to work as Judge Joel Weaver served as lead official in the class. Riding away with the win with a unanimous decision of the panel was The Concealed Weapon and Patti Pollack up for Pollack's Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. and Shelbyville, Tenn. Now, both Pollack sisters had a set of roses, as Sherri won the Amateur 15.2 Championship with I'm P. Diddy just a few classes earlier. San Juan and Eric Lackey pulled into the second position for Mr. and Mrs. Eric Lackey of Thomasville, N.C. Avenger's Lady Threat and Lane Webb were a good third in the class for John Cabe and Lane Webb of Cornersville and Lewisburg, Tenn.
Class 149 featured the Lite-Shod Walking Horses World Grand Championship (Riders' Cup) with all seven of the programmed entries working to the track to show for that World Grand Championship acclaim as Judge Carol Smithson called the gaits. Making the spotlight ride was Catastrophic and owner/exhibitor Laurie Toone of Shelbyville, Tenn. Absolut Skyy and Hannah Pulvers were reserve for Pulvers, Howell and Anderson of Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, Tenn. Lil Wayne and Bobby Richards collected the yellow streamers for Jeff Gillespie of Tazewell, Va.
The final class, and highlight of the night, was up next, class 150, the Three-Year-Old Walking Horse World Grand Championship (Riders' Cup). Nine of the 10 on the entry sheet made the gate call to work for the final spotlight ride of the final Thursday night of the 74th Celebration as Judge Jennifer Bingham served as Call Judge. Everyone in the house tonight knew that this would be one exciting class and it certainly was, however, only one team would garner the title of Three-Year-Old Walking Horse World Grand Championship. That title would go to the team of Jose It Ain't So and Jonathan Watts, winners of the Three-Year-Old Stallion, Div. B preliminary on Friday Night, riding for Deborah Williams of Argyle, Texas. I Am Jose and Casey Wright, winners of the Three-Year-Old Stallion, Div. A preliminary, were reserve for Billy and Debbie Woods of Lexington, Tenn. Street Jazz and Jimmy McConnell were third for Rachel Castaldi of Skillman, N.J.
It was a great night of championship competition, that was complete at 10:30 p.m., and it will only get better on Friday night as there will be 11 more sets of roses to be handed out. There will certainly be some very exciting classes leading up to the last class, the Junior World Grand Championship. Make plans to be in Shelbyville to be a part of the magic that can only be found at the 74th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.