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First Annual Asheville Spring Classic Horse Show A Huge Success

By Susan Harris


Judge: Robert Gardiner, Chicago, Ill.

Ringmaster: Dab Shirley, Simpsonville, SC

Organist: Adrienne Anderson, Lake View, SC

Announcer: Eddie Case, Fountain Inn, SC

Farrier: Jerry Blankenship, Cleveland, NC

Secretaries: Marsha Kent, Denver, NC

                Beth Viering, Charlotte, NC

Photographer: Bob Moseder, Flagler Beach, Fla.

Veterinarian: Dr. John Freeland, Asheville, NC

Video: Horse Videos, Central, SC

Co-managers: Ray Cloninger, Denver, NC

                Steve Hanks, Statesville, NC


FLETCHER, NC - The inaugural Asheville Spring Classic Horse Show, held at the
Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher on May 12-13 was a rousing success. Everyone was surprised to see such a big first show except for veteran show manager Ray Cloninger. He said that when entries started coming in a month ahead, he knew the show would exceed expectations.


In explaining the genesis of this new show, Cloninger said he’d been trying for several years to secure the dates for the week preceding the Asheville Lions Club Horse Show. His primary reason was to be able to have the facility in ship-shape for the prestigious Lions Club show.


One of the “behind the scenes” issues all horse show managers have to deal with is the preparation of the show facility. When a horse show facility hosts shows back-to-back-to-back, it’s always a challenge to ensure clean stalls and appropriate show ring footing, among other things, for the next show, especially when different breeds have different footing requirements.

Once Cloninger finally got those coveted dates, he started thinking, “Why not go ahead and have a small show” the week before. The reasons to do this were numerous. It would give new teams or exhibitors who might not be ready for “the big leagues” a chance to experience the wonderful “big-time” facility. By holding a two-day, non-rated show, it would provide another much-needed small-to-mid-size show at a  lower cost to the exhibitors. With the show starting on Friday evening, exhibitors missed only a minimum of work or school. And exhibitors for the Lions Club show could bring horses earlier than they were allowed in prior years.   


Cloninger’s reasoning was absolutely on target. More than 300 stalls were sold with an estimated 250 horses showing. Even without required qualifying for stakes, many classes were filled to overflowing. As has been the case at other shows this year, the Adult Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship had to be split. Quite a few barns attending this week's show stayed over for the following week's Lions Club show.

Exhibitors gushed their praises for the new show. Kari Lawson was eagerly anticipating the show when she said, “Wind Crest Stables has many new teams just out of academy and also some new academy teams, all to do a ‘second debut’ at a smaller show, while having the feel and facilities of a world-class show … We were at the Tar Heel Classic this past weekend, and are very excited to have another small show the very next weekend. This will enable our riders to improve upon their mistakes while getting more nerves out! What a wonderful way/opportunity to learn!!


Louise Allen of Drowning Creek Farm said, “Those who missed the Asheville Spring Classic Horse show really missed an opportunity to get ready for the big show this week. The trophies were beautiful and everyone seemed to enjoy the two day event. Wish we could have more shows like this.”


Debbie Garrison of Garrison Stables raved, “This was a great show! There were plenty of entries, and barns from all over (both big and small) were represented. We DO need more shows like this, thanks to Steve for keeping things rolling smoothly, and the trophies were very nice. We will be there again next year.”


East Tennessee was also well-represented. Vicki Gillenwater had this to say, “Kudos to Steve Hanks and Ray Cloninger for this Asheville Spring Horse Show. People were so helpful; with it being not recognized entries were easy to put together. It was FUN! Now that is something to say about a horse show. Best wishes for next year.”


The only “problem” managers Ray Cloninger and Steve Hanks may have in the future is the growth of this already-popular show. “Little Asheville” may just become the biggest little show in the region.


Results may be viewed by clicking on Show Results.

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