This year (2015) marks the 11th Anniversary of Smokin’ The Trails With Big Guns (Big Guns for short). Big Guns was initially held at Richard and Teresa Moore’s farm, Double M, in Sulligent, Alabama. It was a hit, so it was moved to a larger place at Circle S in Beaverton, Alabama the next year. The event soon outgrew Circle S, so it was moved to Circle E in Belvidere, Tennessee for a couple of years. Another event, Smokin’ The Trails, had been held in Indiana for several years by Chris and Sue Laney. The Moore’s and Laney’s were close friends so they decided to combine their events, hence the name Smokin’ The Trails With Big Guns, and have it in a central location. For the last 4 years, it has been held at Eastfork Stables in Jamestown, Tennessee on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains right in the middle of horse country.
A 450 foot ‘track’ is marked off in the parking lot for all of the classes in the event which include Crowd Favorite, 2 Year Old Best Gaited, 3 Year Old Best Gaited, Youth Racking, Best Gaited, Speed Racking, Total Package, and new this year was the Rackin’ Rhythm class. The Rackin’ Rhythm was judged by 3 blindfolded judges who voted for the squarest sounded gaited horse based on it’s footfalls.
On arrival, the strip was already jumping as the campers and participants were having fun warming up, practicing, or simply showing off their beautiful horses. Several of the campers had gone out on a trail ride to enjoy the beautiful scenery and trails in the mountains around Jamestown. Many have found that their Standardbred is a versatile breed that has many talents and not only used for racing.
The big day was moved from Saturday to Friday, due to impending rain and thunderstorms predicted to arrive on Saturday. There was a riders meeting early that morning to go over the rules and answer any questions for the classes.
A great time was had by all and no one went home without seeing some good clean horse racing, prancing, and parading fun with some of the best gaited horses to be found in the United States.
The Standardbred is gaining popularity in Racking Horse, Tennessee Walking Horse, and other gaited events such as Big Guns, Racking On The Edge, Rattlesnake Rack N Roll & Pace, etc., which requires a robust, hardy horse with a good disposition, and most importantly, speed. Few gaited breeds have the ability to travel in a four beat gait at speeds over 20 miles per hour. Standardbreds retired from the track, or those that are not qualified to race, are showing great promise in being retrained to rack and trail ride as well as the hunter/jumper events we have seen them excel in. They are also being bred and dubbed ‘homegrown’ Standardbreds for the same purpose.
The results of this years ‘Big Guns’ seems to support this trend. Seven of the nine classes boasted winners that were Standardbreds. Below are some interesting facts on the winners of those classes and their owners.
Crowd Favorite: Chad Angle from Foristess, MO on Cajun Bones, Standardbred. Bones registered name is B.I.T.S. Storm Warning from Back In The Saddle Stable in Louisiana. He is a 9 year old Bay ½ Standardbred, ½ TWH gelding that his owners say was ‘the skinniest horse we had ever seen’ when they bought him sight unseen. He has obviously recovered nicely and is much loved.
Winners of the youth classes were:
Crowd Favorite, Ivey Hart on Gold Express, owed by Tracy Vicars Hart of Honaker, VA.
Youth Racking, Alyssa Moore on Cupid’s Virginia Secret, Brookesville, FL. Cupid is a golden palomino Rowdy bred stallion. His dam is a Saddlebred & sire is Stonewall Jackson from the Cupid’s Arrow Stallion off of Rowdy Rawhide.
Congratulations to all the winners and runner’s up! You did a great job, along with the several hundred other participants, entertaining a huge audience of fans of wonderful, gorgeous horses.