DURHAM, N.C. -- The 19th annual Duke Children's Benefit Horse Show is going on now through Nov. 10 at the James B. Hunt Horse Complex at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, with all proceeds benefiting Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center. The event, the largest hunter-jumper horse show in the Southeast, features six days of competition by riders from the United States and Canada and their horses.
'We are once again anticipating a great horse show,' said Helen Idol, horse show coordinator for Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center. 'It's a wonderful opportunity for people to see some of the best horses in the country compete. It's also a great way to help Duke Children's.'
Through the years, the horse show has raised more than $700,000 for Duke Children's Hospital.
This year marks the third year the Marshall & Sterling national finals have been held at the Duke Children's Benefit Horse Show. To qualify for the national finals, horses are shown throughout the year. The top 40 in each of four classes -- children's hunter, children's jumper, adult amateur hunter and adult amateur jumper -- were invited to compete at the national finals, which begin at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8. Hunter horses are trained to calmly jump any obstacle in their way and are judged on their appearance, style and jumping ability. Jumper horses are trained to jump obstacles and are judged solely on their ability to clear those obstacles.
Nov. 8 also is 'Family Night' and will include jumping competitions, the annual Children's Stick Horse Classic, face painting, games, fortune telling and more. Admission for Friday is free for the public. Events run from 5 to 7 p.m. At 6:45 p.m., the feature event begins when children age 7 and under gallop around the ring on their favorite stick horse.
On Saturday, Nov. 9, approximately 25 horses will compete in the $30,000 Leith BMW Grand Prix beginning at 7:30 p.m. 'The Grand Prix is really the most exciting event of the week,' Idol said. 'The very best horses compete for the most money.'
In addition to competition, the show offers all ages a behind-the-scenes look at how horses are cared for, trained and shown. Youngsters can see the horses in their stalls in the five tents and five permanent barns on the complex grounds. The show also features equestrian collectibles and unique gifts from around the country as well as a silent auction.
Admission to the Saturday evening Leith BMW Grand Prix is $10 for adults. Children 10 and under will be admitted free. All other events are free and open to the public. Class competitions begin at 7:30 a.m. daily. For more information, call (919) 667-2575.
For more information about Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center, visit www.dukechildrens.org.