On Saturday night, horse lovers from all across the Southeast gathered at the Chicopee Agricultural Center for a horse show put on by the East Hall Dugout Club.
The annual fundraiser event has benefitted the East Hall baseball team for more than 15 years, said former head coach John Hardison. The team is in charge of finding sponsors, judges, announcers and workers for the show, in addition to working at the event. The East Hall cheerleaders presented the ribbons at the show.
"It’s a good opportunity for the community to support the baseball team," Hardison said.
Participants in Saturday’s show included both local residents and also people from surrounding areas, including South and North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama. Clinton Howard, the show secretary, said there were between 150 to 175 participants competing in 36 classes and entry fees ranged from $3 to $50. There were six places awarded, and, for most classes, prize money was awarded to the top five finishers in addition to ribbons.
Ashley Pirkle, a teacher at North Hall Middle School, competed in Country Pleasure, with 4 Way Stop, a Tennessee Walking Horse.
Judges for the Country Pleasure class consider the gait and manner of the horse, and also if it is a good trail or pleasure horse. Pirkle has been riding since she was 6 years old and said she enjoys it because, "you can learn something new every day, and it’s a good way to get in touch with nature."
Haylee Ranson, 5, of Gillsville said she has been riding horses since she was born. She competed in Children’s Lead Line on a pony named Candy owned by Toni Buffington. Ranson says that horseback riding is her favorite thing to do.
Buffington, the baseball team’s bus driver, said that horseback riding is something the entire family can do.
"It’s a good thing for kids. It helps keep them occupied and teaches them responsibility," Buffington said.
Ken Moore, a rider and trainer from Athens, said horseback riding is all he’s ever done. He enjoys training the horses so they can win. His wife, Barbara Moore, has also been riding all her life.
"It all started when my Daddy gave me a Shetland pony the day I was born," Barbara Moore said.
Barbara Moore went to the show to support her family, because her husband, daughter and son were all competing.
Barbara also said that the covered facility is a big draw to riders. "The Chicopee Agricultural Center is a great facility, and one of the nicest in Georgia"