Annual Horse Show Gets Off To Soggy Start

Hundreds of horses galloped through mud and jumped in the rain at the Harrison County fairgrounds Wednesday morning. It was a very soggy start to the sixth annual "Gulf Coast Winter Classic" horse show.

Despite the opening day rain, participants are determined to have some fun and spend some money during their visit to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

"That's a client of mine from Nashville, Tennessee. The owner's name is Camile Fowler. The horse's name is Carpathia," said trainer Brad Spragg, as he watched Carpathia maneuver through the muddy jump course.

Wet conditions added to the challenge in the professional division.

Spragg works with several different horses. It's his fourth visit to the Gulf Coast Winter Classic.

"Oh, it's one of the nicest ones in the country. They do a great job. People come from all over," said Spragg.

Warm Southern sunshine in the dead of winter is usually a drawing card for this show. Not on opening day. Rain remained steady. But despite the soggy start, organizers are excited about the nearly one thousand horses entered this year.

Allen Rheinheimer is one of the officials with the annual show.

"It's growing well. I think the community is great. The people here are excited about it. So, we'd like to keep going on," he explained.

Fortunately, the economic impact of the Gulf Coast Winter Classic is much brighter than the opening day weather. Over the next five weeks, thousands of participants and visitors to the event will spend tens of thousands of dollars at area businesses.

New Jersey's Helen Goddard and her horse, Izzy, are hoping to win blue ribbons and prize money. If she's not in the money at the arena, she's hoping for better luck at the casinos.

"People go out of their way to make sure our horses are happy. We're happy. We get great value for our money. And we love the Gulf Coast and all the casinos. We like it a lot down here," said Goddard.

They'll no doubt like it even better, once the sun makes an appearance.

The horse show is open to the public. The competition continues Wednesday through Sunday for the next five weeks at the Harrison County fairgrounds.