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Tar Heel Classic Exhibitors Grin and Bear It

by Leeann Mione

Posted May 17, 2002

STATESVILLE, N.C., - The 34th annual Tar Heel Classic Horse Show, despite having to battle cold and rainy weather for part of Saturday’s busy schedule of performance and academy classes, went off as an unqualified success with first-time manager Elizabeth Holmes. As if to make sure the show would end on a high note, Mother Nature ended the rain in time for Saturday night’s championship session and competition was enthusiastic. A nice sized crowd gathered to watch a formidable group of Carolina exhibitors show their talents to judge Steve Joyce of Hilton Head, S.C. Joyce kept things running smoothly and efficiently inside the ring and Holmes kept things running smoothly everywhere else.

The mood of the weekend was definitely upbeat despite the cold temperatures and intermittent rain. It was as if everyone got together and just decided to grin and bear it. "I thought we had a really good show," said Holmes. "I really enjoyed working with Betty [Nellis] and Sherri [Lowe] (show secretaries) and the Kiwanians that I met were really great and worked hard to make it a good show. I polled the exhibitors to ask them what they wanted to do when it started raining on Saturday and they all told me 'We're here to show horses so let's keep going.' We had very, very few that didn't show back."

Even during the rain on Saturday, most classes were well filled and spectators simply donned rain gear and umbrellas to stay and support the talented teams. The Iredell County fairgrounds outdoor ring boasts a remarkable track that handled the water easily and stayed in good shape. Proof of that fact came in the form of a zero total for the number of cast shoes for the weekend.

Holmes worked hard to accommodate exhibitor’s requests and a full slate of classes was offered for the Saddlebreds, roadster horses and ponies, Hackney and harness divisions, and equitation. Scott Thacker received good reviews for his efforts to keep the academy classes moving quickly and smoothly on Saturday afternoon and several academy classes were large enough to be split.

The Wednesday evening welcome party for early arrivals was provided by horse show sponsor The Kiwanis Club Of Statesville and Friday night’s exhibitors breakfast was sponsored by the club. The breakfast buffet at the host hotel, Holiday Inn Of Statesville, drew rave reviews and many that attended stayed late to socialize.

Drowning Creek, Boone’s Farm, West Wind, Woodbridge, Covie Creek, Jon Walker Stables, Steve Hanks Stables, Calibogue, Barney Garrison Stables, North Star Farm, Edgewood, Mountain View Stables, Meadow Wood, Hi-Briten, Heads Up Academy, Maple Top, Johnny Lucas and Sons Stables, Oak Hill Academy, Stockwood Saddlebreds, Daughtry Stables, Chestnut Lane, Wind Crest, and Heritage Farm all had winning ribbons on the tack room wall by the end of the show.

One of the best classes of the Saturday night session was the Adult Three-Gaited Pleasure Championship. Eleven teams returned and put on a great show for the crowd. Announcer Bill Carrington called out three back numbers for a workout and when Connie Sessoms and Mister Bingo, Nancy Gordon and Attache’s Irish Wine, and Kelly Simpson with CH Stars Fell On Alabama returned to the rail the crowd cheered in anticipation of a great battle. Attache’s Irish Wine and Gordon, winners of the 12-entry adult qualifier, had been strong throughout the class and worked well against the other two. The proven team of CH Stars Fell On Alabama and Kelly Simpson were able to turn it up a notch during the workout after also working well during the class. Mister Bingo, already a winner this season with Sessoms at ASAC, seemed to love the outdoor ring and put together one of his best performances to date on his way to the championship ribbon and victory pass under the direction of Lewis Eckard. Attache’s Irish Wine was the reserve grand champion from Boone’s Farm and CH Stars Fell On Alabama claimed the top three finish from Edgewood Farm.

In this day and age when so many small outdoor horse shows are struggling to stay afloat, the support and camaraderie at Tar Heel was great to see. Great classes, including the Five-Gaited Championship with its four strong entries topped by Heir Head and Kim Cowart, just added to the list of reasons why the Tar Heel Classic continues to survive and thrive.

Heir Head and owner Laura Ahn Samford have been working to make a name for themselves in the junior exhibitor five-gaited division but when Kim Cowart asked Heir Head to step up to the plate in the Five-Gaited Championship after winning the stallion and gelding class, he did just that. That’s not to say he wasn’t pressed hard by mare winner Almost Mine and Lewis Eckard, Callaway’s State Senator with Nancy Troutman and Exquisite Cameo with Jennifer Scruggs Johnson.

Heir Head took the title to add the win to the West Wind Stables total and was followed in the ribbons by Callaway’s State Senator, a competitor in the amateur division with owner Bill Banks, and Almost Mine, being prepared for owner Connie Sessoms. Exquisite Cameo rounded out the ribbon count under the direction of Neil Scruggs of Hi-Briten Stables.

Margaret Rose won the competitive five-entry ladies class for Skip and Peggy Gillenwater with Kim Cowart up for the victory pass. Dwight Jenkins and Light A Fire turned in two strong performances to sweep the amateur championship and qualifier under the direction of Catherine Leonard at Covie Creek. Endless Perfection and Donna Lockett claimed the reserve tricolor to edge out five other teams. He’s Real Good, owned by Rick and Bonnie Burgess, was guided to the wins in the junior exhibitor championship and qualifier by Sean Lassett and was followed in the ribbons in the championship by qualifier winner Love On The Rocks and Samantha Hill of Oak Hill Academy.

For complete show coverage see the May 13th issue of Saddle Horse Report

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