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89th Annual Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show Kicks Off with Saddlebred Competition June 7-10

By Ethan Woodhouse

June 7, 2012. The nation’s oldest continuous outdoor horse show, The Annual Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show, will celebrate its 89th year of existence this June when the event kicks off with the Saddlebred Show, June 7-10 at the L.M. Tate Show Grounds in J.E. Broyhill Park. The show will run from about 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Due to conflicting show schedules in other part of the country, the Hunter/Jumper portion of the show will be held July 24-29 and July 31-Aug. 5.

Last year’s event raised over the $30,000 for organizations like the Blowing Rock Fire Department, Blowing Rock Rescue Squad, Watauga County Humane Society and Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.

“Last year, new barns were being built (during competition),” event volunteer Susan Whittington said. “We’ve added over 60 stalls and expect a comparable increase in income.”

All 440 stalls at the Equestrian Preserve have been rented out, and over 350 horses are expected, preserve manager Ladonna Shore said. Some stalls are used for feed rooms and other supplies.

Over 40 divisions of horses will participate in this portion of the event; from hackney pony amateur to the 5-gaited show pleasure. Entry fees are $25 and prizes run from $100 to the grand prize of $1,000, for the 5-gaited open championship.

Saddlebred horses are a breed of horse developed in Kentucky by plantation owners. Known as “the peacock of show horses,” they are used in a variety of saddle seat style riding, such as pleasure driving and types of fine harness competition. Their comfortable gait and steady temperament make them perfect for trail riding.

The Blowing Rock Equestrian Preserve’s slogan states, “Ride the Blue Ridge” and their commitment to preservation and maintenance of these trails is a key motivating factor for the annual show.

Adjoining the horse show grounds is Moses H. Cone National Park, which will offer participants and visitors over 25 miles of trails and campgrounds with running water and electricity. Campsites are $25 per night. To make reservations call the Blowing Rock Equestrian Preserve at 828-295-4700.

Saddlebred shows can be interactive and flashy. Spectators often shout encouragement to their favorite horses. Saddlebred horses also have a flare for the dramatic; the animals are known to be sensitive and alert and their high-stepping, exaggerated actions are real crowd pleasers.

General admission is available upon entry to the event for $5.

“People from Georgia, Florida and all over the Southeast make it to the event,” Whittington said. “It’s because we create a great, friendly show with lots of hospitality.”