Boutique Shows Are Classics In Charleston, SC
RELEASE: July 13, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Brian Sosby
Driving under an arched canopy of moss covered oak trees toward the entrance of Mullet Hall Equestrian Center on Johns Island, SC, exhibitors immediately knew something special lay just ahead. The Charleston Summer Classics, the second of five Boutique Horse Shows produced by The Classic Company for 2009, kicked off with an air of perfection this week.
Returning to the Low Country area after nearly a decade absence, Bob Bell, Chairman of the summer classic, fondly remembered the original series. “I started the Charleston Summer Classics at the Seabrook Island Equestrian Center in July of 1992, but the show out grew the facility after seven years and moved to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC,” he said. Classic Company is best known for producing larger events such as the Gulf Coast Winter Series in Gulfport, MS, and the Atlanta Classics series in Conyers, GA, at the Georgia International Horse Park and site of the 1996 Olympics, “but for years, I’ve had this longing to return to Charleston…to our roots. And the concept of the Boutique Show was the perfect means to return.” said Bell.
Though limited in size, generally from 150-400 stalls, the Boutique Shows are designed around the memories of a bygone era in horse showing with it’s traditions and little nuances that made events truly unique. Taking these notions and putting them into today’s modern equestrian world would have been a challenge to most, but Bell saw it as an opportunity to introduce younger generations to “the glory days of family outings.” The Mullet Hall locale has it all for exhibitors - three beautiful rings, good footing and nice stalls all set in a lush green environment of trails to explore or picnics to enjoy under the massive Hospitality Tent ringside or take a scenic six-mile drive to enjoy some of the countries most beautiful beaches. Bell’s emphasis on where the Boutique Shows occur are an equally important ingredient to their success. “I chose the Charleston area largely because of the beauty and history surrounding it. People can make a real vacation out of this event. Water sports abound on the beaches, historical downtown Charleston’s shopping, museums and fine dining is only a short drive away, and we’re making the horse show itself quite special.” said Bell. On Thursday afternoon, Robin Stoney hosted the Pussers Pain Killers party, and the crowd under the tent were delighted with the spiced rum elixir. Friday evening Classic Company’s right-hand woman Tissy Principe invited exhibitors to enjoy a BBQ at her gorgeous farm that overlooks the waterway. And of course, Sunday found Bell strolling throughout the grounds with a silver tray of Mimosas for all.
“It was fun to buy 10 dozen donuts at Krispy Kreme and drive around the barn area in the mornings delivering a tasty wakeup to the grooms and exhibitors getting ready for the show to start," said Bell. "That’s something you can do when you only have 400 stalls.”
Despite small in numbers the competition was big in talent, with exhibitors from all across the country including Canton, GA, based Showcase, LTD, with hunter great Terry Brown picking up four championship titles: 1st Year Greens aboard the Sandy Gregory owned Formality; 2nd Year Greens with Lori Christman’s entry Nice; Pre-Green 3' Hunters with Foxdale Equine Vet Services’ Lifestyle; and the Pre-Green 3'3" section riding Darcy Cooper’s Seduced. “This is a wonderful event. We have a lovely show and finish our days early enough to go enjoy the area’s great beaches and restaurants! Bob [Bell] is on to something here!” said Brown.
The Mystery Man classes returned for added fun among the competitors. Dating back to 1999, this class is a summer classic and has Missy McCutcheon to thank for its creation. Each year she traveled from Texas to South Carolina to compete with her beloved horse Mystery Man. During one of the final shows held at Seabrook Island she jokingly suggested to Bell that he hol