Posted in Kiawah Cup

Congratulations Sweet Home Alabama & jockey Wylie Cox Bell on Grand Champion 2017!

Photo Courtesy of Caroline Knight

Sweet Home Alabama, gelding, owned by Leighton Bell and ridden by Wylie Cox Bell took home the Grand Championship Win at the Kiawah Cup, Saturday March 25, 2017. Sweet Home Alabama won the Gelding Heat and Lilly of Blackberry Ridge Farms, owned by MJ Goodwin and ridden by Jennifer Malone won the Mare Heat.  According to traditional rules, the final race is between the Heat Winners of each division; Stallion, Gelding and Mares.  (No Stallions were raced at the Kiawah Cup, mares and geldings only).  This years final race set up like a match race due to having only two divisions.

I took the opportunity to interview Wylie Cox Bell on her win, her racing, and the horses she rode in the both the Mare and Gelding Heats. Bell has ridden in many of the Marsh Tacky Beach Races since they were re-introduced in 2009 by the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association. She loves the racing and the thrill of the speed. Bell rode Sweet Home Alabama in the Gelding Heat and Southern Breeze in the Mare Heat. Southern  Breeze was beaten in the Mare Heat by horses Lilly and Cowgirl.

Bell knew that Sweet Home Alabama would be a good contender for the race as he has been to the Beach Races four times already, once winning the Gelding Heat in 2013.  Asked if she was confident that he would take home the Beach Race Championship, “NO! Absolutely not.” Bell said. “I’m proud of Bama’s spirit and competitiveness, and it gave me the big win that I’ve wanted for a long time.”

“NOW, I’ll be spending the next months reining in that race mentality so that I have a safe riding horse.” Bell has been through the changing of a steady mount to a flashy racer and back a few times. She lets the horse be a horse and let the racing memory fade before asking for anything. Bell mentioned that some horses do not seem to recover quickly from the changeover. However,”As for those who have Marsh Tackies who can race and go back to being just a pleasurable riding horse, hug and kiss that horse and never let him or her go.”

I asked her about the preparation it takes for the Beach Race,”Preparing for the race, I put about two weeks of good conditioning on them. I also had April Brigman help me breeze them out a couple times. But otherwise, it was a lot of working trots and lengthy canters.” She has had experience with Sweet Home Alabama, Southern Breeze and Sage to name a few of the horses she has ridden on the sand.

Southern Breeze is Wylies personal horse and is often ridden by her 73 year old mother at home; to put her in the beach race was certainly a change of pace for her. “Every horse is different and racing will affect each one of them differently.” Bell described Breeze as being totally out of character, “Breeze is a very fast mare, but she can’t handle the racing mentally. I hate the impression that many got of her at the races, where she was a frazzled mess.” Bell said, “when it comes to the racing, she just gets too anxious about it. But I’m proud of the two races she gave me Saturday, but she is now officially retired from racing. I owe it to her. She’s done it for me 4 times.”

I asked Bell what information new Marsh Tacky horse owners that might like to take a turn at the Beach Races would need to know. “The bigger thing is just knowing, can your horse run straight and with confidence? Will it spook at a jump start or can it jump off that line with confidence? Even if you don’t know the answers to these questions, you can at least give it a shot (if you are a confident rider) and let your horse experience the beach and a crowd and all the fan fare.”



Posted in Kiawah Cup

Beach Race Champion Hopes to Pass the Torch!

The Carolina Marsh Tacky  Association is excited to partner with Kiawah Cares to bring this race to Kiawah Island. All tickets were pre-sold, and sold out! It has been a few  years since the CMTA has been able to hold the beach races due to weather and sponsorship issues. When asked about the partnership McFadden explained, “I think that it is good for us to partner with other 501(c)3 non-profits so that we can introduce the Marsh Tacky Horse to a new audience.” Kiawah Cares reaches out to fill the needs of islanders that otherwise would not be met, while the CMTA helps create more fans of this resilient tough little island horse.

Previously races had been held on Daufuskie and Hilton Head Islands.  McFadden noted that the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association is a very small non-profit and to put on an event of this magnatude they needed to partner and have sponsorship. Racing on Hilton Island required the changing of ordinances to allow the horses to race on the beach. McFadden  and others are hopeful that they will be able to have races on Hilton Head Island in the future.

If you didn’t know by now, Molly reigns Supreme, as far as I am concerned. She is 28 years old and going strong. She will be at the Kiawah Cup this Saturday to meet and great all her fans, autograph “Beach Race Champions” and most importantly cheer on Mariah,her daughter, who will be racing!  Molly at 28 is still outrunning the younger Marsh Tacky horses and has been helping Mariah train.cropped-mollyracing1.jpg

Mariah has been following in Molly’s hoof-prints by first learning to be a calvary mount for the Citadel Cadets (who by the way have a rich history of the Marsh Tacky horse).  She is now learning to train the new recruits for the Cadets, but Molly is still the Boss Mare. This will be her first beach race.

I am excited to know that Mariah may very well win the Kiawah Cup.I do hope that the Beach Race Champion will pass from generation to generation. (I did mention I am pulling for Mariah, right?)You can check out my quick article South Carolinas Heritage Horse, the Marsh Tacky on LinkedIn.

Pre-race rundown on Mariah. Mariah is an 8 y.o. mare, foaled April 20,2009. She is the 280th Marsh Tacky to be registered. Mariah will be ridden by a Citadel Cadet.Her dam of course, is Molly, owned by Janson Cox.  Molly was a “mystery tacky” as I like to call them.  Molly has led a typical life of a Marsh Tacky – she plowed, hunted, pulled a buggy -that is until Janson Cox purchased her. Her DNA was one of the first collected to establish the studbook, by then Molly was also a seasoned Calvary mount. Mariah’s sire, Tacky Blue has no mystery – his daddy is Hacksaw,one of the last stallions  DP Lowthers family collected from the sea islands. He is co-owned by Meg Walker and Lynell Sowders and is standing at stud in Lancaster, SC with Karen Reynolds. This makes Mariah one of the very first horses born into the studbook.