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Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show

Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show: Not Just Another Horse Show
by Andrea Wise

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For competitive equestrians in North Carolina and the surrounding states, nothing is more anticipated than the annual two-week long Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show (“BRCHS”). Not only does this beloved horse show represent one of the highest rated Hunter Jumper horse shows in the state, but nestled in the rolling Blue Ridge mountains it also offers a well-timed relief from the scorching summer temperatures and a chance to reconnect with old friends. Each year in late July, competitors rent picturesque mountain-side villas and compete at the highest level, all the while surrounded by best friends, beautiful horses and charming small-town restaurants and boutiques. For equestrians on the show circuit, I imagine that BRCHS evokes feelings quite similar to attending a favorite summer youth camp.

BRCHS traces its roots back almost 100 years, making it one of the oldest horse shows in the country. Until the recent construction of Tryon International Equestrian Center, it was one of very few AA rated shows in North Carolina. The show facility does exhibit signs of wear and tear, as one can imagine after so many years of operation and surviving such major events like World War II and the Great Depression, and compared to some other show venues in the general area, the simple two-ring facility does not stand out. There is something to be said for good old southern charm, however, and coupled with the red, white and blue drapery in the grand stands, the dress-to-impress exhibitor parties, and crowd attractions like the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and $15,000 Jumper Classics, this show continues to be a mecca for equestrians.

I grew up riding and showing ponies, but like many others packed my boots and helmet away as I succumbed to the excitement of high school and college. Ten years ago I purchased a horse and eventually started to show again. It has been a lifetime since I competed at the top Hunter Jumper levels, but I always had BRCHS as a goal in the back of my mind. Not only would it be something to work towards, but it would also be a way to celebrate a year’s worth of practice. I think that is what makes this horse show so appealing. For the highly competitive show barns, the history surrounding the show and the social draw make it a must stop on their show calendars. The laid back atmosphere and festival-like quality also attracts the local barns that show the lower circuits and many make it their big, yearly top-rated show. Even after so many years the show has kept true to it’s “fun” atmosphere, remaining a favorite for everyone, no matter what color ribbons are won.

Fast forward a few years, and two kids later, and I have yet to show at BRCHS myself. Maybe I won’t get the chance but I do find myself looking forward to my daughter’s leadline debut there possibly as early as next year. I can already see her on the adorable braided pony, smiling at her cheering friends in the iconic box seats, and me walking beside her hiding a smile under an oversized sun hat.



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