Rollie Beard of Lewisburg won his first blue ribbon on a pony at a horse show in Petersburg when he was just nine years old. Since then, he's had a love of the animal, especially the Tennessee walking horse.
This year, Beard is again judging the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, his sixth time in the position.
"It's a big job, a huge job," he said, "and I take it really seriously."
Born in Marshall County, Beard grew up around horses. His first job was leading colts for Buddy Musgrave in Farmington. During his senior year of high school, he held the same job, only this time he worked for S.W. Beech Stables. Soon, he was showing horses for Billy Gray and Sons Stables in Lewisburg. Later, he worked for Steve Aymett Stables for five years.
He moved to Mobile, Ala., and opened Rollie Beard Stables in 1982.
"I stayed there for 15 years," he said, "and then moved back to Lewisburg in 1995."
He now boards and trains Tennessee walking horses at his stables in Lewisburg.
He also has a real estate license and works with Russell Realty.
Beard has judged nearly every major show in the country.
"I've worked every large show there is," he said. "I was a judge last year. It is a big honor to judge something that spectacular."
When judging, he strives to do his best to be impartial.
"I think everyone deserves a fair shake," he said. "I take this really seriously. It's very hard to do it right, but I'm determined to do so."
Not only is he proud of his work with walking horses, he is also extremely proud of his three children, Rollie, Wilson and Katie. He also has one grandson, 4-month-old Lane.
Beard isn't married, although he says he does have a long-time girlfriend.
"I love being a bachelor, and you can quote me on that one," he said.
This is his sixth year as judge and he wants to continue to serve.
"I would like to be a judge for many more years to come," he said. "It's just such a huge honor."