Bob Bell to Introduce "Boutique" Horse Shows
RELEASE: April 2, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Robbi Meisel
A new trend in horse showing? Last fall Bob Bell, President of Classic Company, looked at his budget for the 2009 show season and decided there had to be some changes made. From May 22 to May 24, Bell will produce his first “Boutique” horse show in Tryon, NC, at the Harmon Field location, virtually in the downtown area, which only added to the new “definition” the show manager has created for these new events. Boutique (boo teek)—A horse show that is fashionable and unique. Always held at wonderful venues with excellent accommodations for special horses, owners, and riders. Always includes parties, trendy classes, and fun events. Always has stylish trophies and rewards for grand champions. Always has mimosas on Sunday mornings.
Bell has built a solid reputation for producing quality events that are not only well run, but also very family-fun oriented. Making event location choices based upon both the facility’s appeal as well as the surrounding community is a top priority for him. “I try to ask myself what’s there to do here if I’m not showing a horse?” Bell said. However, this year the show manager finds himself asking far tougher questions, not only as a business owner but also as someone concerned for the well being of his exhibitors. He confesses to the “non horsey set,” these events could indeed sound frivolous or self-indulgent. “The economic woes have affected so many of my friends. We’re all tightening our belts a bit, but we can’t and don’t want to let go of our fun entirely. We all need a release from the daily worries of our world, and for many that release is horse showing.” Bell added, “We, the trainers, farriers, veterinarians, feed stores—don’t forget the farmers who grow the corn and such for feeds, retailers of various equipment used, from saddles to tractors, and even show managers are an industry, too. Are we a luxury industry? Maybe to some, but the bottom line is we all contribute in a small way to the growth of our economy as a whole. Passion drives our, or any, industry. We too should strive to find new means to continue forward.”
As Bell struggled to find a solution that would aid all parties, one reoccurring theme from friends of “Do you remember when...” settled into his subconscious, simply waiting for the right moment to “click.” About this time he received approval on a new show date in May for the Tryon, NC, area, but the usual facility wasn’t available. They say inspiration often comes from the oddest things, like a fond memory in Bell’s case. The “Ah Ha” moment for him was while reminiscing on a drive around downtown Tryon when he found himself parked in front of Harmon Field. “One of my first horse shows as a steward was here. The Oares [Betty and Ernest] were the judges. Tryon was a great show! All the show officials stayed in a B & B near the show grounds and after the first day we all went back and watched Mame on TV together.” He recalled the fine details of an event 25 years ago as if it were happening before him now—the smaller more intimate gatherings, polished silver trophies, and champagne served ringside as spectators, riders, and show officials alike picnicked under the trees. “A Boutique show!” Bell told himself.
Instead of going bigger the answer was stepping back in time to where shows were smaller, where people received a more personal touch and weren’t “just a back number.” And what better place than a renovated Harmon Field, which hadn’t hosted an "A" show in more than 20 years. As shows had grown, the small facility was left behind for a newer, bigger location, but Bell sees the charm and memories of Harmon Field as the perfect launching spot for a revitalized, fun horse-showing experience for adults and children. “Fun is a renewable energy!” Bell said is his new motto.
A few years ago the community of Tryon and the Blue Ridge Hunter Jumper Association joined forces to restore Harmon Field to it’s