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Larry Simpson eases his horse, Bojangles Midnight Blaze, onto a training see-saw at his farm in Dayton, Tenn.


On "America's Favorite Trail Horse," the top vote-getter in each of 10 episodes gets $5,000 and a chance at another prize: $25,000 for first, $15,000 for second or $10,000 for third in the final episodes, according to the show's website.


"America's Favorite Trail Horse" airs today at 8 p.m. EDT on Dish Network's HRTV. Those without HRTV can go to to sign up and watch previous and current episodes. Viewers also can see episodes online at In Episode 7, Blaze and Larry Simpson wear 321. Viewers have 48 hours after the end of each episode to cast a vote.

Rhea County, Tenn., resident J. Larry Simpson and his horse Blaze are seeking votes in tonight's episode of a new reality TV series called "America's Favorite Trail Horse," airing on Dish Network's HRTV.

"It's gone good, and we hope that we win," Simpson said Monday, "but you don't know what the American people will do."

Simpson, 67, said winners in the first six episodes appear to have been chosen for how well they performed tasks.

"That's what I hope, at least," he said.

Simpson and Blaze face some good competition tonight, he said.

"If we were to win this episode, the 12th episode will be the one where the final 10 compete on Nov. 29. We'll just let it play out and see if we can stand the tension," he said with a laugh.

Simpson said he has received lots of support on Facebook and in equine magazines.

He said 6-year-old Blaze is a spotted saddle horse, a Tennessee breed that arises from a mix of the Tennessee walking horse and Spanish pinto pony. Such horses are known for their smooth gait, long-distance speed and endurance, said Simpson, who has 21 years under his big-buckled, horse-training belt.

"America's Favorite Trail Horse" is open to members of the American Competitive Trail Horse Association, according to organizers and the association website.

The competition includes 100 contestants chosen during 22 recruitment events across the nation, and all regional winners were invited to the national finals near Austin, Texas, according to organizers. Weekly shows feature national celebrities who coach horses and riders to do their best, officials said.

The first 10 episodes were taped during the recruitment events Simpson and Blaze attended in the spring, Shows consist of 10 competitors each week who vie to become one of 10 finalists in the last three shows.

Karen VanGetson, operations manager with the American Competitive Trail Horse Association, said the show is getting a "terrific" response, and the association's Facebook page is filling with testimonials "about what we're doing for the trail horse by bringing them into the spotlight."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@times or 423-757-6569.