Horse Competition Grows In Popularity

In its third year, the Gulf Coast Winter Classic is growing up fast. Oh, there are horse shows that are older, bigger and more well known, but don't tell that to the folks at the Harrison County Fairgrounds because they already know and they staying here anyway.

Cathy Rheinheimer is a trainer from Indianapolis, Indiana and says, "We've done the Florida circuits in Palm Beach and Ocala and we've also done the California circuits in Indio, California and we wanted to try something new, we came last year and we just had so much fun."

They're having so much fun in fact that the show here on the coast has been extended to an eight-week winter classic, not normal for horse competitions.  But they're dealing with supply and demand here, and the coast has some things that keep them coming.

Janet McCarroll is the event's organizer and says, "Everybody wanted to stay here longer, so we thought well ok we'll go to eight weeks and your January's are usually pretty nice."

Cathy Rheinheimer says, "When we travel, we travel all over the country and people ask us where we're going in the winter and we tell them Gulfport, and when we tell them how much fun we had and we went to the Mardi Gras parade they really think that's pretty neat."

McCarroll adds, "I think this is a lovely area to do a horse show, the weather is milder than it is say in Canada or Michigan where a lot of these people come from, and also let's face it there's a lot to do in this town."

The show will see about a thousand horses a week which according to those involved in horse shows is perfect.

Trish Bosley is a vendor who sets up shop at the event and says, "At that number, everything runs smoothly, the show classes run smoothly, the people who are showing and their parents they have time to come and go shopping which is why a lot of the vendors are here."

Janet McCarroll says she sees the event staying here forever and hopefully growing bigger and bigger each year.