Dixie National

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Article & photos by Tommy Brannon

The Dixie National Quarter Horse Show, the Southern Classic, is the premier event of the Mississippi Quarter Horse Association. It is the largest Quarter Horse show in the South and the third largest in the United States. This year’s show was held February 16- 21, 2016 on the State Fairgrounds in Jackson, Mississippi. It was preceded by The Dixie National Rodeo February 11-17, an AQHA Equestrians with Disabilities (EWD) show February 9-10, and simultaneously held with the Dixie National stock show.

This year, well known Quarter Horse trainer Casey Devitt took the reins as the Show Manger and Vanessa Lay was the new show secretary. Casey said that he could not manage the show without the guidance and experience of staff and volunteers. Everyone agreed that the show was organized and well run.  

The American Quarter Horse is touted as being the most versatile horse breed in the world, and the Dixie National certainly reflects that, with a wide variety of classes both in western and English riding disciplines. There were Stock classes, roping, reining, ranch riding, western pleasure, trail, showmanship, performance, halter, driving, horsemanship, hunter, jumper, equitation, barrel racing, pole bending, stake, lead line, and even a stick horse class. All ages competed, both horses and human, in pro and non-pro divisions.

The Dixie National Equine Expo, the largest equine-related trade show in the south with over 100 vendors, ran in conjunction with the Quarter Horse show. One could purchase just about anything for horse, rider, and farm. Items ranged from tack, trucks, trailers, hot walkers and barns, to show clothes, boots, and furniture. With this many vendors in one place, one could compare different brands and types of horse and stock trailers, tractors, trucks, saddles and tack by just walking a few feet between displays. The glitz and glitter of show clothing on display added extra reflective light to the venue.

Not only could one purchase everything for the horse, one could also purchase a horse. West Kentucky Horse Sales of Bowling Green, KY conducted a horse auction on Saturday, February 20 on the show grounds. Some really fine animals changed ownership!

Undoubtedly the most popular class for spectators at the Dixie Nationals is the freestyle reining competition, which took place Friday night February 19 in the Coliseum. A full house crowd watched 16 entries compete for the $10,000 purse which was divided between open and non-pro divisions. Clever costumes, choreography, music, spins, slides, and stops, entertained the enthusiastic crowd.

Heather Johnson rode Doubleenotyoureeboks to win a check for $2,365 in the open division. Sarah Lynn Locker rode horses in each division, placing first in the non-pro class on Snip o Satellite and reserve in the open division, riding Heavy Duty Chex. The freestyle competition had required movements: four consecutive spins to the left and the right; three stops; one lead change at the canter to the right, and one lead change at the canter to the left. To these requirements the competitors could add any other moves they wanted within their four-minute time limit, and they were allowed to ride with two hands. One rode part of her routine brideless. Several included riding without hands, and one ended her routine standing on her horse.

This year marked the 51st Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo, which is held annually in February. The stock shows run for four weeks, with the rodeo running for a week, the Quarter Horse show for a week, and plenty to do and see during the nearly month-long event. Find more information at: https://www.mdac.ms.gov/bureaus-departments/state-fair-commission/dixie-national/and at http://mqha.org/Dixie%20National.html

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