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World Grand Champion in 1990

They were the epitome of  true champions.

One man, one horse standing side by side surrounded by roses, trophies, ribbons and a large gathering of family, friends, and excited fans.

The one man and one horse that had just moments before commanded the attention of nearly 28,000 screaming fans, the judges  and, ultimately, the coveted spotlight ride of the 52nd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration's World Grand Champion.

Trainer Ronnie Spears of Tullahoma looked at his partner, The Pushover and smiled. ''This is the stuff'," he seemed to say to himself, "that dreams are made of!"

And, indeed, it was a dream come true.  It had been 16 long years since Spears had ridden a horse to the ultimate  Celebration title;  his first World Grand Championship honors having come in 1974 when he and Another Masterpiece became the 36th horse and rider to make the Celebration's 'Gallery of Champions".

An 11-year-old black stallion owned by the Dr. and Mrs. William Varner Family of Gallatin and Looking Glass Farms in Shelbyville, The Pushover made what many have described as "one of the most powerful showings ever'' in his quest for the throne.  As early as the first pass, he seemed to pull the crowd to his side and then responded to their roaring applause by giving more and more with each step and nod of the head.

Definitely an experienced competitor, The Pushover had been the subject of much attention from the very beginning when he was sired in 1979 by the ever-popular 1981 World Grand Champion, The Pusher C. G.  Initially owned by Mr. and Mrs. Larry Pickhardt of Wisconsin, the promising stallion began his training under the direction of longtime trainer Bryant Fly. Fly guided the horse through his early seasons, making many outstanding show ring appearances, collecting a number of blues and commanding the attention of several noted trainers, Ronnie Spears included.

From Fly, Pushover went to Steve Aymett Stables in Lewisburg, where under the ownership of Pickhardt and E. W. Sherburne of Seattle, Washington, the high headed, black stallion mounted a vigorous campaign in aged stallion competition. The fruits of his labor?  An International Reserve Grand Championship in 1986 and several championships and reserves in various prestigious shows leading up to the 1987 Celebration. Many eyes were upon him and following the Montgomery Southern Championships, The Pushover had acquired new owners, Dr. and Mrs. William Varner; a new home, Looking Glass Farms in Shelbyville; and a new trainer, Bruce Hankins.

Under Hankins' direction, Pushover continued his winning ways; however, an illness just prior to world championship competition put a halt to the talented stallion's entry into the 1987 Celebration.

The 1988 season found trainer Kevin Gower in the irons. The Varners watched anxiously from the rail as their prized stallion claimed blues throughout the show circuit and placed a popular third at that year's Celebration.

Continuing his search for glory, Pushover continued to give his all in 1989. With prestigious performances at Gallantin, Clarksville and' Murfreesboro to his credit, his former "dark horse" status had changed colors and he went into Celebration competition undefeated and considered a leading contender. This time he walked away with reserve honors in the World Grand Championship class.

Then came 1990; a new decade and a new start when in July the Varners decided to put the world championship fate of The Pushover in the hands of Ronnie Spears. Two weeks later, the new duo debuted at one of the season's most prestigious events, the Marshall County Horseman's Association Show in Lewisburg and walked out with the championship blue. Next came the Celebration where before a record first Saturday night crowd Spears and Pushover claimed reserve honors in a talent laden Division A Aged Stallion competition, knowing all along the real test would come the following Saturday when only one horse and rider would emerge from a darkened arena to become the 1990 World Grand Champions.

Needless to say, Pushover and Spears passed that ultimate test with flying colors. And, as the horse's new trainer tossed his hat into an approving, standing ovation crowd, another chapter in Tennessee Walking Horse history was closed.

February 29, 2012
The Pushover has been humanely put down at the age of 33 years. 
Rest in Peace!

The cremated remains of 1990 World Grand Champion The Pushover were laid to rest in the Commemorative Garden at the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ And Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) in Lewisburg, Tennessee, on May 24, 2012. The resting place, which is marked by a beautiful granite headstone created by AAA Memorials in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is in a place of honor befitting a World Grand Champion. Special thanks to James E. Davis, Jr., of Bills-McGaugh Funeral Home in Lewisburg for handling the burial.

If you wish to print off this pedigree, click HERE to load a black and white copy.
Tennessee Walking Horse - Midnight Sun
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<==1989   1991==>


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