Gulf Coast Winter Classics kicks off


Equestrians from across the country are on the Coast for a competition that’s become tradition for many.

For seven full weeks competitors will head to courses at the Harrison County Fairgrounds to test their equestrian skills.

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Tom Brennan of northern Virginia is one of those competitors. He’s made the trip to the Gulf Coast Winter Classics a tradition for nearly a decade. “There are a lot of winter circuits to go to. We like to come here because it’s a predictable product. We like that they’re welcoming to all of us and it’s horse friendly.”

Brennan says the care for horses, competitors, and spectators alike makes this hunter-jumper competition a prime destination for equestrian enthusiasts. “They have space here for horses, a lot of circuits tend to be very congested. This is a great place to come watch, whereas some of those other places might not be the best place for someone to go spend a day.”

As traditions like Brennan’s continue at the Classics, new ones continue to form year-after-year. Cindy Yalisove made the trip from Delaware to see her two twin daughters compete for the next three weeks and says she looks forward to meeting others who share a passion for horses. “It’s a great way to meet people and network and it’s a really important part of the horse business.”

And with an economic impact of nearly $40 million for the Coast, locals and visitors alike enjoy the sense of community the Classics offer. Horse Show Coordinator Janet McCarroll said, “So, they like being here. We have a group that’s been coming for 21 years from New Jersey, they won’t go anywhere else and this is like they just come home for the winter.”

Competitions are free and open to the public Wednesday through Sunday until March 29th.