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Major Winter Circuits Come Together to Agree ‘No Braiding for Un-Rated Hunter Divisions’

SAUGERTIES, NY (December 8, 2008) — In recognition of the current economic climate, promoters of all the major winter circuits are examining ways to help exhibitors minimize ancillary expenses in an effort to maximize their opportunities to show and enjoy their winter circuit experiences. While USEF rules do not mandate braiding, the winter circuit managers from Gulfport, HITS, Jacksonville and the Winter Equestrian Festival have decided to go on record advising all judges that exhibitors who opt not to braid for un-rated classes should not be penalized.

All the promoters agreed that, while a small step, this action may be something that makes it a little bit easier for exhibitors to continue their participation in the shows.

Don Stewart, trainer and owner of Don Stewart Stables in Ocala, Florida and Chairman of the National Junior Hunter Committee, expressed his support for the action. “I think especially in today’s market, it’s imperative that we cut back somewhere and perhaps this is a place to start.”

Lori DeRosa of Newmarket, a prominent trainer on the West Coast, was also positive in response to the steps being taken on behalf of the exhibitors. “I think that’s a great idea. I’ve been trying to move in that direction, and anything you can do to lessen the cost of showing and allow people to continue showing is very helpful.”

As a result of these initial discussions, this group of winter show managers has entered into a dialogue to search for other opportunities to be sensitive to costs in these uneasy economic times.

“Bob Bell, Mark Bellissimo, Joe Dotoli and I felt that we had a responsibility to look for opportunities to help exhibitors reduce some of their expenses, which is why we are coming together for this action and why we’ll continue to identify areas where we can alleviate other show-related expenses,” said Tom Struzzieri, President and CEO of HITS, Inc.

“In talking to many, many trainers and competitors who compete annually in Jacksonville, Gulfport and Atlanta about the idea of somehow reducing the costs of showing horses, braiding seemed to be a common denominator,” said Bob Bell, Show Manager and President of Classic Company, Ltd. “These are unprecedented times and we must consider all aspects of the sport so that all of our exhibitors can continue showing this winter. Some of our exhibitors may have budget restraints this year, and we hope that reducing braiding costs will help them continue to compete.”

Mark Bellissimo, CEO Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, (ESP) added, "We will be asking all of our hunter officials (Judges) not to penalize any entry in the un-rated divisions of the Winter Equestrian Festival for not being braided. We consulted with a number of top trainers and judges and they all endorsed this action. It is a great opportunity to defray expenses for our exhibitors in these difficult economic times."

For more information on Classic Company, Ltd visit http://www.classiccompany.com. For more information about the circuit in Jacksonville visit http://www.nfhja.com or email Alexis at agamel@comcast.net. For more information about the six weeks in Gulfport visit http://www.classiccompany.com or call 843.768.5503.

Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC is a Wellington, FL based company that produces and promotes equestrian sport, most notably the Winter Equestrian Festival, now in its 30th year. http://www.equestriansport.com. Media should contact Ken Braddick at 561.793.5867.

HITS, Inc. is a special events management company primarily focused on producing hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS produced its first horse show circuit in Gainesville, Florida in 1982. Since that time, HITS has grown into a nationwide company with world-class hunter/jumper circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit http://www.HitsShows.com.


1. HITS Ocala Winter Circuit in Ocala, Florida January 14 - March 15

2. HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, California January 20 - March 22

3. HITS Arizona Winter Circuit in Tucson, Arizona January 28 - March 8


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