BLOWING ROCK — Under sunny skies, the 2019 Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show, one of the longest-running continuous horse shows in America, completed its 96th year of operations on Sunday, Aug. 4, at the L.M. Tate Showgrounds at the Broyhill Equestrian Preserve.
The final day concluded the second week of hunters and jumpers.
“This is an elite horse show, you win a ribbon here, you put it on the wall,” Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show’s Maurice Ewing said.
Hunter/Jumper I took place July 23-28 with Hunter/Jumper II following on July 31 to Aug. 4. For those three weeks, more than 500 horses are brought to Blowing Rock by dozens of owners, accompanied by trainers, riders, farriers and other employees, resulting in an annual economic boon to local hotels and lodging accommodations.
The jumpers are about clearing the course in the shortest amount of time. The hunters have to clear jumps, but do so quietly and eloquently, with a judge scoring each hunter on those metrics.
After dozens of competitions ranging from kids to professionals, the $15,000 L.P. Tate Jumper Classic wrapped things up in the afternoon. With 13 horses and riders competing, Luca Toni, ridden by Christina Kelly of Oxford, England, took home the blue ribbon, edging out Melleficent, ridden by Clayton Russell of Tryon, by thousandths of a second. Both horses are trained by Clayton’s father, Vick Russell.
“I wasn’t expecting that result so I’m pretty happy,” Kelly said.
Vick said he’s been bringing horses to Blowing Rock since 1961.Clayton added that there’s probably some wooden forts still standing in the nearby woods that he constructed as a child.
“We love the scenery and lifestyle here,” Clayton Russell said. “We come up here for a mini-vacation break in the summer. The horses jump really well here compared to everywhere else in the summer.”
“There’s so much tradition here; it’s a cool horse show to come to,” Kelly said. “It’s such a fantastic show, I hope it keeps going on for many years.”
In February, the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show was named as one of the Top 10 hunter-jumper shows in the nation by the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame for the second straight year. Out of the nominees, the BRCHS is the only horse show in the Southeast to be listed.
A sanctioned U.S. Equestrian Federation Heritage Competition event, the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show provides funding for a number of worthy causes, including Blowing Rock Fire and Rescue, Rotary International, Appalachian State University Equestrian Team, Horse Helpers of the High Country, the Watauga Humane Society, Danny and Ron’s Rescue and other charities.