Equestrians Riding In For Winter Classic

Three quarters of a million dollars will be given away over the next month in Harrison County. Riders from the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico are at the Harrision County Fairgrounds for the 5th Annual Gulf Coast Winter Classic. .

14-year-old Merrin Mueller from Long Beach practiced for an upcoming event on Sunday.

"It's a very hard competition, but if you just hit all the spots, and nice ride, you'll do fine," Mueller said.

Making a nice ride is what the judges are looking for. Merrin competes as a hunter, her ride requires certain elements of finesse.

"Hunters are kind of like the figure skaters, they go over jumps and it's supposed to be pretty and flowing, and we shouldn't see a lot of running or anything crazy, it should be very pleasing to the eye," event co-chair Janet McCarroll said.

When you're out in the arena all eyes are on you. You're competing for one of the top thirty spots in the country. This AA rated show is very valuable for points. Being successful, winning and earning a ribbon, takes a lot of hard work.

"It takes an extreme amount of dedication to the sport. These children ride everyday after school, practicing, and they give up their valuable time on the weekends to show," coach John Mastriano said.

And for the more experienced riders there's the run fast, jump high. Whereas we have style, these riders are all about making the jumps.

Making the jumps and making the cash. Each Sunday throughout this competition, riders will compete for thousands of dollars in cash prizes.

The Winter Classic will be held through March 9. Admission is free, except for Sunday's Grand Prix events. For details you can call (228) 832-0080.