Meridian horsewoman rides to Amateur World Championship
Nov. 9, 2001
Kay Green has brought a World Championship to Meridian. A few weeks ago she and her horse, Pride's Sundance Star, took the blue ribbon in the prestigious Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee in the 50 and over category. It was Kay's first Celebration ride and the win was her reward for much hard work in learning the skills a rider must master in order to bring out the best in the mount.
Walking horse competition requires different gates, striding and walking, by the horse. A video of her winning ride shows Kay in continuous concentration, ensuring flawless performance from the black stallion, a horse that was the 1995 Grand Champion Tennessee Walker as a 5-year-old.
The show horse is judged on the length of the stride, reach (or front end) and head shake and position, as well as rhythm. In both the "flat walk" and the "running walk," the horse must keep the rider level while taking long strides and showy steps and head shakes.
The celebration competition, held in the National Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration Arena in Shelbyville, is progressive, in that hundreds of horses go through the required rides in groups of several at a time with the best horse of the group advancing to the next level. Pacing the horse, showing enough to the judges to win the class but holding him back to conserve the energy needed for the all-important final walk, is one of the jobs of the rider.
Federal inspectors examine each horse prior to Tennessee Walking Horse shows. They ensure the horses are healthy and have not been abused. The inspectors examine the horse again after each competition. Typically a horse can compete in shows 14 years or more. Categories are 2, 3 and 4-year-olds and after that, horses compete in aged or specialty classes. They can be utilized for breeding for some 20 years.
The Celebration is 63 years old and the arena at Shelbyville holds 38,000 horse show enthusiasts. The event is the tenth largest spectator event in the country and includes 163 classes of competition. It lasts 11 days and this year 5,400 horses were entered.
Kay and husband Dr. Jim Green bought Pride's Sundance Star a year ago and brought him back into show competition from his retirement in the breeding barn where he had been for 5 years. The Green's plans are to show him one more year and then decide whether to show him another season or re-retire the former Grand Champion back to a breeding facility. In the world of walking horses, it is remarkable for a long-time retired horse to return to shows and achieve the successes of this 11-year-old stallion.
Prior to the World Championship show, Kay and Pride's Sundance Star won the 2001 Jackson, Mississippi Charity Show, the 2001 Spring Fun Show in Shelbyville, Tennessee and the 2001 Alabama Jubilee in Decatur, Alabama.
Tennessee Walkers were developed by plantation owners to provide a smooth ride. The gait of these saddle horses is such that the rider's head stays level without the uncomfortable bounce one experiences with other horses. Yet good Tennessee Walkers take long strides, the distance between consecutive placements of the rear hoof being as much as a dozen feet. Their gait is called a "flat walk."
The Celebration event utilizes 5 judges and there are 10 places awarded. For the Green's horse in this year's show, all but one judge placed him at the top of the list of the 10 finalists, as he easily won the blue ribbon.
A confident Kay Green reveals her affection for horses which she has had since she was a small girl. "I plan to learn to cantor and enter that class with this horse next year," she said. As she progresses to yet another level of competition, another world title just might be in her future.