Winter Classic Horses Gallop Back To Harrison County - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Winter Classic Horses Gallop Back To Harrison County

South Mississippi's economy is getting a much needed shot in the arm. The 2008 Gulf Coast Winter Classic opened Tuesday. And registration for the ninth annual horse show is up 30 percent. 

One of those horses that showed up for the opening competition came from Ikast Stables.  The public address announcer welcomed the equestrian onto the jumper course.

"Number 381 Supersonic," he said.

Supersonic's talent, and Bjorn Ikast's riding skills were about to be tested.

"This is only my third ride," the owner of Ikast Stables said. "It's a brand new horse of mine."

Ikast is originally from Denmark, though he currently lives in Mexico. For the last five winters, he's entered his horses in jumping events at the Harrison County Fairgrounds.

"We're just having a good time here," he said, explaining why the Mississippi Gulf Coast is on his competition schedule.

This is the ninth year the Gulf Coast Winter Classic competition has been held in Harrison County. When the event started in 2000, it lured 450 horses to the fairgrounds. Now, it has 1,100 participants, and a waiting list of 70 who would also be invited, if more room could be found around the complex.

Brad Spragg has been to every one of the competitions.

"It's growing every year that we've been down here. It's gotten bigger and bigger," he said. "They keep improving the facility. And that's what's drawing everybody down here I think."

Spragg brought 17 horses with him from the Atlanta Hunt Club.

"We love it down here. It's great," he said. "The horse shows are great. The area's great. We really like it a lot."

Supersonic must have liked the crisp air, and a strong breeze on this opening day. Bjorn Ikast's horse earned a blue ribbon by finishing the course without touching a gate.

"You can see the horses are all fresh and happy," Ikast commented, explaining how the cold front that came through South Mississippi impacted the horses. "But that's good, it's the first week. And we need the energy for the last weeks."

The Gulf Coast Winter Classic runs from now through March 16th at the Harrison County Fairgrounds.

By Brad Kessie

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