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Harris Wins Fifth Five-Gaited World’sMemory Lane - 10 Years Ago at the WCHS

by Bob Funkhouser

Dusting the cobwebs off the archives from 1993 we find the 90th anniversary of the World’s Championship Horse Show was one that was appreciated more as time went on than it was the actual week of the show. Mediocre was a word used a lot during the week, but it was far from average.

That year did lack the “once-in-a-lifetime” performances that are usually made a few times each year on the green shavings. Immortals like Lady Carrigan, My My, Wing Commander, Bellissima, Forest Song or The Lemon Drop Kid were not on hand and there weren’t any tremendous rivalries like Imperator and Sky Watch or even One For The Road and Memories Citation, just the year before. The one horse that was close to putting himself into the category of some of the above mentioned was Memories Citation. He did win the Three-Gaited World’s Grand Championship that year as a four-year-old, however his inability to pick up his trot right away the second way of the ring kept that performance from being put into the lofty status of the above World’s Grand Champions.

That year’s Five-Gaited World’s Grand Championship wasn’t the most dynamic ever, but it certainly was entertaining. Ten horses entered the ring and there was one notable absence: the gelding world’s champion, Onion, had to stay in the barn with a high temperature. As it turned out the audience didn’t know if this was a gaited stake or an ice skating event. The first way of the ring the Junior Five-Gaited World’s Grand Champion from the year before, Protege, slipped and fell by the in gate. The gelding and trainer Don Harris were dusted off and the class resumed. Moments later, Stan Harris and Party Train went down at the other end. Again the action stopped and again the horse and rider were okay.

Once the class was completed, four were sent back to the rail: See The Sights, CH Will’s Bulletin, CH Face Card and Protege. As only he can do, Harris put on a horse show riding one handed nearly every pass and he and Protege had the approval of the crowd and the judges. Conatser and See The Sights were reserve, followed by Face Card, then Will’s Bulletin.

What Louisville ‘93 did have is a record number of horses which brought about highly competitive classes. Many times horses and ponies with impressive records left the ring without a prize and that WAS NOT due to poor judging. This was the year that 43 Junior Five-Gaited horses showed in two divisions and what a showcase of talent it was. Remaining undefeated, Talented Asset and Johnny Lucas couldn’t be dethroned by the best from both divisions.

The list of horses that came from the junior gaited division that year remains remarkable: Talented Asset, Be Right Back, Aces and Eights, Zeitgeist, Top Spool, Hometown Favorite, Ahead Of The Class, Lullaby Magic, Belle Reve’s Renaissance Man, Champagne Santana, Eleanor Rigby, Callaway’s Huckleberry Finn, What’s His Face, Jodie’s Gal, Shobhana, The Wildflower and Drift A Bit were the ribbon winners.

The closest thing to a rivalry that year came in the form of Be Happy and CH Roselawn’s Secret Rhythm. The titans of the harness division went head to head at Rock Creek and Lexington with Mike Barlow and Secret Rhythm taking the first of four. They took the first one at Louisville also, however, Tom Moore drove Be Happy from the ring on Saturday night with the white roses. Besides the World’s Grand Champion status, Be Happy earned $25,000 from the American Bankers Triple Win Series (Rock Creek, Lexington, Louisville) for owner Linda Wilford.

Also in 1993 there was one of the best juvenile gaited championships in some time and maybe since. Three horses that could and had won in the open division took the stage for an encore performance that had to make everyone feel good about the show horse business. This was the best of it!

Gabe Deknatel and Range Rover put on some kind of horse show to defeat both Blue Chipper and Swept Away in the workout. John Conatser masterfully put the winning team together.

Another junior exhibitor class with great appeal was the 15-17 Three-Gaited Championship. After spending two years as the reserve grand champions, Jaime Hammack and I’m Sultana put on a tricolor performance under the direction of Brian and Susan Reimer. Persistence paid off! Unfortunately, just a couple of years later Jaime died in a drowning accident.

From the young horse ranks M-Eighty was highly explosive as the Junior Fine Harness World’s Grand Champion for Mitchell Clark and Bancroft Horse Farm. It wasn’t long before this champion had a new home. The same with Champagne’s Special Event, the huge Two-Year-Old Five-Gaited World’s Champion with Mike Roberts that had everyone talking.

There were many good signs for the industry like 12 fine harness mares in the ring at the same time; three gentlemen in the top three ribbons of an equitation class; horses and ponies selling at all levels; and many World’s Champion titles spread around the country with states like Wisconsin and New Hampshire producing as many as the traditional areas.

Kentucky trained World’s Champions were plentiful as usual though. One of them, CH Santana Lass, was flawless in her last competitive performance. Owner Mary Gaylord let the emotions go as Lass was again crowned the Ladies Five-Gaited World’s Grand Champion. It was announced that Lass was in foal to Heir To Champagne and would be retired at Kansas City at the end of the year.

Retirements also highlighted the activities at the 1993 World’s Championship Horse Show. Stutz Bearcat and Tijuana Starlet each heard the applause one last time in fitting sendoffs for two truly great performers.

No doubt the division of the year was the Amateur Five-Gaited Stallion/Gelding section. The likes of CH Wall Street Week, CH Callaway’s New Look, CH Lex Town, and CH Heir To Champagne came trotting through the gate. How could anyone call this mediocre?

In the Amateur Fine Harness division William Schaefer and Simply Mahvalous retired the perpetual trophy for winning three consecutive years.

There was also a tremendous list of individuals honored in center ring that week. Bob Whitney, Redd Crabtree, Raymond Shively and Judy Werner received the highest approval of their peers.

As usual, officials worked long and hard to sort the newly crowned world’s champions. This year’s panel included Lonnie Lavery, Merrill Murray, Jack Noble, Dorothy Dukes Ford and Larry Bacon. Lavery had the most enjoyable week as he was the winner of the $10,000 Applebees Drawing sponsored by Tom and Ann DuPree.

Besides long sessions and several horses slipping to the extent of falling, this set of judges had to deal with the same unpleasant factors experienced by their predecessors. Thrown shoes were constant, accidents were too frequent and the crowd was quick to voice their opinions. The Louisville audience always opens its heart to a show doesn’t have to be correct, just exciting!

“This was just a tremendous year in many classes,” said manager Bill Munford in an interview with Saddle Horse Report. “We were extremely happy and appreciative of everyone’s cooperation.”

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