The organization is governed by a board of 11 directors and they are the ones who plan and produce the show, along with Reinbow Riders Therapeutic Riding program and Tri-State Exhibition Center.
David DeBord is president and David Peel is secretary/treasurer. DeBord is in his 10th year and Peel is a founding member from 35 years ago.
The horse show features the American Saddlebred horse, a breed dating back to the 1880s, primarily in Kentucky.
“It was used by the plantation owners because they liked its easy gait and its stylish conformation (figure), their intelligence, athletic ability and easy gait,” DeBord said.
Peel said the horses were bred because of their racking gait.
“In the horse-and-buggy days, that gait was called single-foot. People bragged if they had a single-footing horse,” Peel said.
When a horse is doing a true rack, only one foot (hoof) is on the ground at one time. One is on the ground. One is up. One is going up and one is going down.
“It’s a very smooth, four-cornered gait so you don’t get the roughness of a trot, lope or a canter,” Peel said.
DeBord said the American Saddlebred is sometimes called the peacock of the showroom, or the aristocrat of the showring.
“It’s uniformly recognized as that because of its elegance and its look-at-me attitude,” he said. “The American Saddlebred is just a little bit more arrogant and a little bit prettier.”
The four-day event is for the benefit of “Horses for Heroes” program for veterans, which is being established by Tri-State Exhibition Center’s Therapeutic Riding Center.
The event began Wednesday evening at Tri-State Exhibition Center and continues through Saturday. The main events start at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 at the gate, but children 10 and under are free. Dinner and snacks are available at the Tri-State Kitchen each evening.
This is the first year all money raised will remain in Cleveland and will aid the riding center in starting the program for veterans.
The covered therapeutic riding center is dedicated to children and adults with mental or physical impairments and is home to the Reinbow Riders, a riding program aimed at helping special needs applicants.
Participants from across the South will attend the largest saddlebred show in Tennessee. Knowledge of horses is not required to enjoy the beautiful and athletic saddlebreds, speeding roadsters and high-stepping hackney ponies during the four-day show.
This is the 11th year TSEC has been in operation. It hosts equestrian, arts, music and other community shows in the over 70,000-square-foot covered arena located at 200 Natures Trail S.W., McDonald. For more information, contact Tri-State Exhibition Center at 423-476-9310, or www.tsec.org.