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Local resident gets back on the saddle after 30-year leave


Belgreen resident Johnny Hester and his horse Cy Young will compete in the 72nd annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn. on August 28 for a chance to become world champion. | Contributed


When most people think of horses in competition they think of the Triple Crown and the Kentucky Derby, but those who have been in the horse ownership business know there is a sport where owners prefer their horses to walk, not run.

Johnny and Richie Hester grew up riding horses in Franklin County and now, after a 30-year hiatus from the horse business, they have decided to pick up where they left off and give the horse business another shot.

“This is just something I’ve wanted to do my entire life and now I have finally gotten the opportunity to be successful in the business,” Johnny said. “My brother and I had horses all of our lives and we use to ride show horses when we were younger. I guess we have been back in the business for three years and now that I’m heading into retirement in August, I will have more time to go do these competitions that I always dreamed of competing in. I hope to do this the rest of my life”

The Hester brothers purchased ‘Cy Young,’ a now seven year-old black Roam Stallion Tennesee walking-horse, from Allen Calloway stables and Johnny said he has learned more from Bill Calloway than he has in the last 45 years of riding.

“He taught me to pay attention to certain things when competing that I never thought about otherwise,” Johnny said. “I learned about the tracks, flat-walk technique, running-walk technique and how it is better to perform on hard ground rather than soft. Just a lot of different things I can use in future performances.”

Johnny Hester said his horse got the name in regards to its dad whose name was ‘Major League.’

Johnny Hester and ‘Cy Young’ won the FAST Showcase Amateur Novice Challenge held in Shelbyville, Tenn. on July 4.

“All three judges scored ‘Cy Young’ first on their score cards and gave him the unanimous win,” Ritchie Hester said. “’Cy Young’ is at Calloway stables in Shelbyville along with another one of our horses, ‘American Threat’ getting ready for their next showcase.”

The next showcase for the Hester brothers and ‘Cy Young’ is scheduled for Saturday, August 28 where they will compete in class 84, Owner-Amatur Novice Gentlemen Riders on Novice Walking Stallions, at the Tennessee Walking Horse World Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn.

“This is a huge event in the horse business. You can’t get a hotel room for miles when this event is going on. There are even people who live in Shelbyville that take vacation and rent out their homes to people coming in to attend the event,” Johnny said. “I believe I’ve got one of the best horses around and I believe we have an outside chance of becoming the world champion from our class.”

There will be 20 to 25 different horses in the August 28 showcase, but the Hester brothers hope ‘Cy Young’ will pitch a perfect game and strike out the competition to bring home the hardware.