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The Carolina Classic Survived Alice's Effects With Success



Posted June 28, 2001

by Leeann Mione

WILLIAMSTON, N.C., - The third annual Carolina Classic Horse Show, June 14-16, had exhibitors scrambling almost all weekend to stay dry as tropical storm Alice dumped rain by the buckets on Williamston, N.C.

It seemed at times as if the rain would never stop. The phenomenal facility that has drawn rave reviews for the last three years, now has a covered warm up ring which helped ward off the rain. The semicircular layout of the four barns, just a short distance from the warm up ring, also kept time in the elements to a minimum for horses and riders.

Nearly 300 horses came to eastern North Carolina for the show, which was a drop in entries from last year. Tents were not set up this year but some exhibitors were in temporary stalls inside the warm up area.

Most of the barns that came have attended the show from its inception and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, hospitality extended to exhibitors, and of course, the unbelievable facility. Show manager Ray Cloninger, secretaries Joyce Wilson and Barbara Woodlief, and ringmaster Bill Whitley kept things running smoothly.

Wyatt Lilly was the announcer, Mary Lynn Whitley was the AHSA Steward, Jane Frye played the organ, and Gene Frye was the paddock master. Shane Shiflet was the official photographer and Horse Videos, Inc., served as videographers.

Inda Gillikin, one of the members of the horse show board, provided homemade cookies and candy in the show office each day for exhibitors and officials and also helped provide television coverage for the show with a local station. Harry and Mary Daughtry provided coffee and doughnuts each morning for exhibitors.

The horse show also made a special presentation of funds for two scholarships to the Martin Community College Equine Program for 2001 and 2002.

The casual atmosphere was quite pleasant for most of the show until Saturday evening. Horse show spectators, most often parents, family, and trainers of the exhibitors in the ring, almost always make their opinion known when they disagree with a judge's decision. No matter what horse show it is. It happens at the smallest shows and at the biggest; Louisville, Morgan Grand Nationals, or the American Royal for example. Audiences usually voice their opinion by cheering and clapping for their chosen favorite. Their cheers make it very clear how they feel.

At Williamston however, things took an ugly turn on Saturday night when many in the crowd disagreed with a decision made by Saddlebred judge Debbie Foley. When the winner was announced, many in the crowd stood up and actually booed. Then catcalls and derogatory comments were directed at the winner and winning trainer. The display changed the tenor of the show from that point on and became the topic of conversation for the rest of the night instead of the great performances put on by all the exhibitors and the hard work from the Carolina Classic board and manager Ray Cloninger to make the show a continued success.

The schedule for the show included parties every night as well as a dog show after the academy session on Saturday afternoon. Tommy and Cindy Currie, of Currie Horse Transport, hosted the Thursday evening dessert party. La Mirage hosted the Friday night party which included a roasted pig that had exhibitors lined up and anxious to sample the big buffet dinner. Cathy Minard, of 21st Century Morgans, celebrated her birthday on Friday night as well.

Saturday afternoon's dog show was judged by Myra Williams, of Woodbridge Farm, and drew a big crowd and lots of dogs. Saturday night the traditional ice cream social, sponsored by the horse show, was moved inside the arena warm up area and was a huge hit with the crowd.

Although the weekend weather wasn't the greatest, the competition inside the ring was as heated as the summer temperatures and although many classes were light, with one or two entries, competition was good especially in the pleasure classes. Bert Earehart judged the Morgan division and Mary Lou Greenwell served as learner judge and also judged the academy division.

La Mirage, under the direction of Jason Harrell, was the winningest barn overall and went home with 18 wins. Judd Stables, led by Don Judd and Maria Gilman, followed with 15 wins. Thirty-five other barns went home with wins and/or reserves and in all, 13 states were represented. Highlights from inside the ring follow.

For the complete show story see the printed edition of Saddle Horse Report dated June 25, 2001.

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