Thousands of horses are headed to South Mississippi as the Gulf Coast Winter Classic horse show kicked off today. Over the past 20 years, the event has raked in over half a billion dollars for the gulf coast. News 25’s Payton Malone was out at the Harrison County fairgrounds to meet some of the horses riding in this year’s show.

We’re no stranger to horse power on the Mississippi Gulf Coast but, we’re not talking about cars this time around. The Gulf Coast Winter Classics horse show just kicked off and thousands of horses and riders are headed to South Mississippi including Ken Whelihan and Tess, who traveled all the way from Massachusetts.

Ken Whelihan says, “We came down here about six years ago for the circuit. We decided this would suit our horses and we really enjoyed it, so we came back.”

All of these horses coming from a different walk of life and even different parts of the world. Tess actually flown in from England, and get this. Her family is no stranger to the limelight. Her grandfather a horse that competed in the Olympics.

“It’s an addiction, if you’re around them. The horses just do amazing things for us, and they don’t really do if for carrots and apples. They do it because they enjoy it. They liked to be mentally stimulated much like playing fetch with a dog,” says Whelihan.

The show now in its 21st year offers seven weeks of hunter-jumper competitions, riders from the U.S. and Canada competing for more than one million dollars in prize money but, the fun goes beyond just watching the horses. Spectators have the chance to meet the four legged athletes.

Whelihan says, “A horse is a very non-aggressive animal, so to be next to something that is eleven hundred pounds that isn’t going to hurt you. You’re not going to find that at a zoo.”

If you do want to see the horses in action, head on over to the Harrison County fairgrounds through March 31st. The featured event will take place at 2 p.m. on March 10th. All events are free to the public.

In Harrison County, Payton Malone, News 25.

Categories: Featured, Harrison County, Local News, News

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