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The Tampa Charity Horse Show

The Annual Tampa Charity Horse Show is truly a special occasion. More than half a century of hard work and perseverance by numerous volunteers has culminated in the show that many will enjoy. In 2001, the show was proud to host the first-ever International Invitational with Team U.S.A. competing against Team South Africa.

The Tampa Charity Horse Show has been one of the Tampa area's most prestigious and unique events since its beginning in 1933. Sponsored by the Tampa Horse Show Association, Inc. and held annually under the magnificent oaks at the Tampa Yacht and Country Club Stables, it has attracted exhibitors from as far west as Texas and Oklahoma and as far north as New York and New Hampshire. There have been numerous National and World Champion horses presented here, some by third-generation horsemen.

A review of the early records of the show indicates that those involved were among the most prominent and active in the community. Names such as Dusty Crowder, Peter O. Knight, Jr., Jerome A Waterman, Georgie Cornelius, Carl Fish, D.D. Martin, Ralph Nicholson, Ed Valentine and Russell King all appear before World War II in the Tampa Horse Show Association records. It would take several pages to list those who have contributed so much to the show.

Although for most of its existence the Tampa Charity Horse Show has been held at the lovely Tampa Yacht and Country Club showgrounds, old-timers will remember other venues. A couple of years in the 1930s, the show was held at the old Florida State Fairgrounds, now part of the campus of the University of Tampa. Another year prior to World War II, it was held at Forest Hills. Through the efforts of the early volunteers, however, a permanent home was found at the Yacht Club for many years. Renovations and construction at the Yacht Club forced a move to the Florida State Fairgrounds in 1993.

The Fairgrounds boast a covered arena and warm up area as well as several outdoor rings, stadium bleachers, box seating and permanent stalls for over 600 horses. Recreational vehicle hookups are available, as well.

Through the years there have been a variety of seats and breeds shown. For example, many will remember the running walk of the Walking Horses and the colorful spectacle of Arabians being shown by riders in native costumes. For many years there were large classes for Western horses, and who doesn't remember the excitement generated by the hunters! In the mid 1970s, the show evolved into the present format of Saddlebreds, Morgans, and Harness Ponies, and Roadsters. In 1998, the National Show Horses made their debut, and the Tampa Charity Horse Show served as that breed's District III Championship show through 2001.

Of major significance in the history of the show has been its long established tradition of supporting Tampa's charities. Not only has the show been a major and colorful sporting event, it has also provided additional resources for many fine causes. Over the years, the Tampa Charity Horse Show has contributed over $150,000.00 to local charities.

Perhaps the most consistent theme found in the history of the show has been the ability of the scores of volunteers to adapt to change. In the early years, new sites had to be found until a permanent home was established. Over the years, new events have been added and new breeds have been invited to participate because changing interests and the availability of facilities made it impossible or impractical to continue with some of the old favorites. The hundreds of volunteers who have worked for the Tampa Charity Horse Show have increased their efforts and support to make the show the South's finest. This tradition will most assuredly continue.

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