2013 Marsh Tacky Race Location Announced
-- Posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
The 2013 Marsh Tacky Beach Races will take place at noon on Saturday, April 27th on Daufuskie Island! The race is sponsored by
a broad Daufuskie community coalition, J&W Corp, Plantation Land LLC and Sea Grass Stables at Melrose on the Beach.
Only registered horses will be allowed to compete in three classes on Daufuskie, mares, geldings and stallions. There will be no
monetary prizes, but winners will be awarded infinite bragging rights.
Because of the logistics involved on an island with no bridge, this might be a smaller event than last year's race on Hilton Head
Island, but as many of the breed's foundation genetics come from Daufuskie, the CMTA feels it is very important to bring these
horses 'home' to Daufuskie Island and run them in this historic setting.
We hope that you will join us for this historic event! For more information, please visit www.marshtacky.org.
Marsh Tacky Featured in the Columbia Star
-- Posted on Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
Check out Warner Montgomery's article in the Columbia Star:
2012 Marsh Tacky Beach Race Big Success
-- Posted on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
It was a bitter sweet ending to a very close race for Carolina Marsh Tacky Outdoors owner David Grant when his gelding
Simpson lost to James Bakker's gelding Sage during the 4th Annual Marsh Tacky Beach Races on Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Sage is a former CMTO horse and was sold by David to James less than a year ago.
"Sage is top quality. He has been tested time and time again in the woods and has always proven to have the grit and the
courage for what it takes to be a hog hunting mount," David said. "At the races, he proved he has what it takes to be a winner,
too. I congratulate James and what he has done with Sage."
David and Simpson won the gelding race last year and were hoping they'd do it again this year, as well as win the finale race
between the top mare, top gelding and top stallion. This year, however, Sage took home that honor. David and his "Horse
Tales" crew was also filming the event. For complete coverage of the race, please be sure to watch Episode 15 of "Horse Tales
with the Pee Dee Cowboy" below. For complete race results, please visit http://www.marchtacky.org/.
A little Pee Dee River Fun
-- Posted on Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 by Wylie Bell
Team Marsh Tacky enjoyed a day cooling off in the Little Pee Dee River in a spot where Gen. Francis Marion and his militia
probably once forded the river on Marsh Tackies when being chased by the Redcoats!! (Or so we'd like to imagine...)
The horses enjoyed a break from the sweltering July heat. Tebow, our half Marsh Tacky gelding, was riderless and made the
most of the day by swimming and rolling in the river.
A Tacky Weekend in Patrick, S.C.
-- Posted on Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 by Wylie Bell
Marsh Tacky owners got to showcase their horses at the 1st Annual Marsh Tacky Trail Ride and Jamboree, organized by
Carolina Marsh Tacky Outdoors and Heritage Farms on May 21 at the H. Cooper Recreational Center in Patrick, S.C. The ride
and expo served as a fundraiser for the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association and S.C. High School Rodeo Association.
The day's events kicked off with a three-hour trail ride, guided by Randy Broach, riding his beloved Quarter Horse, Star. Yes! A
Quarter Horse. We Tacky folks love all breeds, so the weekend was not exclusive to just Tacky owners.
After the ride, David Grant provided a meal of fried chicken and biscuits in the clubhouse.
During the afternoon jamboree, Marsh Tacky owners were invited to showcase their horses and talk about their history with the
breed. Other horse owners were invited to show off their breed of choice as well. Wylie Bell followed the Tacky expo with a
demonstration of Join Up, a concept of building trust and communication with your horse developed by world-renowned trainer
Many folks made a weekend out of the event and enjoyed the camping facilities offered by H. Cooper Black. CMTO and Heritage
Farms look forward to making this an annual event, so stay tuned for info on next year's jamboree and trail ride!
Team Marsh Tacky wins Big at Hilton Head Races
-- Posted on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 by Wylie Bell
CMTO took home a trophy from the Marsh Tacky Beach Races for the second time in three years. David Grant rode 3-year-old
Simpson to a blazing finish for the top prize in the gelding class. David won first place in 2009 riding a mare named Holly, who
not only won the mare class but was also the overall winner of the day.
This year, Brittany Bowen captured the overall win riding her 22-year-old mare, Molly. This is the second year in a row the
dynamic duo of Brittany and Molly has landed in the final heat, when the fastest mare, fastest gelding and fastest stud face off
for the Marsh Tacky Beach Race championship.
Team Marsh Tacky had a good showing at the race that drew about 6,000 spectators to a strip on Coligny Beach in Hilton Head
Island for the revived tradition of racing Marsh Tackies on the sandy shores of their native land. Randy Broach, riding
Toogoodoo, owned by Marion Broach of Heritage Farms, gave David and Simpson a run for their money in the final gelding
race. The two horses were neck and neck for most of the race, but Simpson stretched it out to gain the winning edge. David
owned Toogoodoo before selling him to Marion, so he knows the caliber of horse that his younger colt was up against.
“I rode Toogoodoo for a year in the woods, so I know is heart. He is one of the best riding horses I have ever ridden,” David
said. Wylie Bell finished third in the gelding race riding Postel, a tried and true CMTO horse who was making his third
appearance at the races. Wylie also rode Southern Breeze, a 3-year-old filly, to a second-place finish in the mare category.
Breeze, who is usually at the back of the pack, came on like a hurricane at the races and proved to have some legs on her.
Blaire Grant raced CMTO stud DP against returning champion Marion Gohagan on his stud, Sabata. Blaire got the early lead,
forcing Marion and Sabata to really turn it on to reclaim the winning title in the stud division. Blaire lost her seat in the saddle as
the horses pulled up short at the end of the race and took a spill. She was transported to a local hospital, but she luckily only
suffered bruising from the fall.
There were three generations racing for Team Marsh Tacky. Marion Broach had his son, Randy, to cheer for in the gelding
race, while he himself raced Southern Belle and his grandson, Hunter Rogers, raced Sully, both young fillies, in the mare
division. Marion said Belle lived up to her name and preferred posing for photos to racing down the beach. As for Hunter and
Sully, they came off the line on fire and made fellow Team Marsh Tacky duo Wylie and Breeze scramble to catch up. It was a
neck-and-neck race, but Wylie and Breeze edged head at the very last second to take the win. David also rode another CMTO
horse, Southern Spirit, in the gelding race, and Leighton Bell, the newest Marsh Tacky owner of the group, raced his gelding,
Sweet Home Alabama, to a solid finish behind David and Simpson. Leighton did not humor the crowd this year by being that guy
who gets bucked off his horse in front of thousands of people. He maintained an upright position in his saddle at all times.
The race was an extreme success for riders and spectators, who got to meet and greet the horses after the races were over.
Carolina Marsh Tacky Association did a great job organizing the race and promoting South Carolina’s State Heritage Horse. For
more pictures, please visit www.EquestrianImages.us.
SCHC Expo highlights breeds and disciplines
-- Posted on Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 by Wylie Bell
Carolina Marsh Tacky Outdoors weathered a cold, damp day at the S.C. Equine Park in Camden, S.C., for the SC
Horseman Council's annual expo that featured many clinicians, vendors and horse breeds.
CMTO partnered with the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association to present information about the breed and to display three
horses. David Grant brought his 6-year-old stud, DP, and 3-year-old filly, Southern Breeze, and John Speissegger brought a
2-year-old stud colt named Eddie.
The Marsh Tackies were also featured in the Parade of Breeds that concluded the day's events. Wylie Bell rode Southern
Breeze and Leigh Branch rode DP for the exhibition.
For more information about the SCHC, please visit: http://www.schorsecouncil.org The following photos of the South
Carolina Horseman Council's expo in Camden were provided by Jackie McFadden of the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association:
Team Marsh Tacky parades for Aiken crowd
-- Posted on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 by Wylie Bell
Team Marsh Tacky shined up its saddles, boots and bridles for the carriage parade during the Aiken Fall Steeplechase on
Saturday, Oct. 30. Carolina Marsh Tacky Association members and friends were invited to the track to debut the South Carolina
State Heritage Horse.
Riding for CMTO was Marion Broach on Toogoodoo, Wylie Bell on Simpson, Leighton Bell on Sweet Home Alabama, Brandon
Bell on Southern Breeze and Kat Heinsohn on Southern Belle.
Also riding were Jenifer Ravenel on Tacky Blue, Wendy Soltis on Houston, Susan Day and Dillon Heinsohn on Red Rocket.
Even though the Tackies had to "keep it to a trot" on the track, the Tackies drew a lot of attention from the racing crowd, who
were interested in learning more about the breed and its history. The "Tacky" crowd was treated to railside tailgating, and
thanks to Jodie Reeves, the crowd had plenty to eat and drink.
Thanks to Jackie McFadden with the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association for making this happen! It was an amazing and exciting
experience for Team Marsh Tacky. Photos by: Jodie Reeves.
A Day in the Gardens - Not the Swamp for once!
-- Posted on Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
It was a homecoming for two of Carolina Marsh Tacky Outdoors horses when Team Marsh Tacky participated in Brookgreen
Gardens' Harvest Home Weekend Oct. 16-17. Southern Breeze and Southern Belle, two fillies who spent a year on display at
the gardens, were welcomed back by staff and regular Brookgreen Gardens visitors who remember the young Marsh Tackies.
Thundering in with flags and bull whip cracking, CMTO put on a riding demonstration and talked about this rare breed of horse
that was recently named South Carolina's State Heritage Horse. David Grant, astride his 6-year-old stud DP, regaled the crowds
with stories about his first experience riding Marsh Tackies, hog hunting along the Great Pee Dee River and playing politics to
get the state horse bill passed.
Visitors were intrigued by the calm and docile nature of the Tackies, one being a stud and Breeze and Belle being 2-year-olds
started under saddle just this summer. The horses stood quietly and happily for petting and rubbing from hundreds of hands
throughout the day.
The size of the crowd and the number of inquiries into buying a Marsh Tacky is a testimony to the growing awareness of this
breed and its desirable traits. By the end of the day, many people were walking around in their newly purchased Team Marsh
Tacky T-shirts and hats. It was a great day for CMTO and to see how far their efforts have come in sharing with others one of
South Carolina's best kept secrets: the Marsh Tacky horse.
Thanks to David and Linda Grant, Marion and Sandy Broach, Ashley Jones and Wylie Bell for participating in this event. Also,
thanks to Brookgreen Gardens for inviting CMTO to be a part of their fall festival.
Francis Marion Statue to be erected in Johnsonville, S.C.
-- Posted on Sunday, September 5, 2010
The city of Johnsonville, SC, is erecting a 12-foot marble statue in honor of Gen. Francis "Swampfox" Marion, an American
Revolutionary War hero, at Venters Landing on the Lynches River, the location where Marion received his commission to lead
the militia of patriots from the Johnsonville area. The statue will be 10 feet wide and will feature Gen. Marion's torso and the
head of his Marsh Tacky horse.
The "Rally at the River Swamp Fox Run" will be held in Johnsonville on Sept. 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Venters Landing, so
residents can learn more about the historical significance of the property that will be home to the statue and allow for
fundraising efforts for the statue and the proposed surrounding Veteran's Park through food and memorabilia sales.
The Marsh Tacky becomes South Carolina's State Heritage Horse
-- Posted on Thursday, June 03, 2010
The State Heritage Horse Bill was signed by Governor Mark Sanford on June 11, 2010, making the Marsh Tacky a
symbol of South Carolina. Thanks to all those who supported the bill through letters and e-mails to our state legislators,
as well those who have promoted the breed. For more information, please visit www.marshtacky.org.
Weekend Trail Ride at Lakeview Plantation
-- Posted on Thursday, April 22, 2010
Carolina Marsh Tacky Outdoors, as well as friends and family, enjoyed a day of trail riding in the Lowcountry on April 17 with an
overnight trip to Lakeview Plantation, operated by Hayward and Dona Simmons, in Fairfax, S.C. Two guests on the trip were
Jennifer Fox and Jan Emrich of Lugoff, S.C., who rode two of David Grant's Marsh Tackies, Simpson and Sage. Both ladies
were very pleased with their first experience on a Marsh Tacky and were ready for a second trail ride later in the day taken by a
few of us who can never get enough time in the saddle.
Lakeview Plantation is a Lowcountry hot spot for weekend trail riders, offering more than 60 miles of well-maintained trails to
explore. Our group of 15 spent about three hours riding the sandy trails before coming back to camp and enjoying some
refreshments. Scott Poindexter provided us with a show of horsemanship and groundwork using his quarter horse, Copper, who
got his chance to shine among all those Tackies. Scott also worked with aspiring horse trainer Wylie Bell on how to direct and
drive a horse on the ground, using a 5-year-old gelding she recently started.
Wylie and her husband, Leighton, and Jennifer and Jan tacked up for a late afternoon ride with Carolina Marsh Tacky
Association members Marion Gohagen and Ed Lowndes and their friends. While discussing the many wonders of the Marsh
Tacky breed - and debating whose horse was faster, could jump higher and flush more deer, they managed to come back to
camp as friends and only one busted jaw in the group. (In trying to prove that her horse Postel was the highest jumping Marsh
Tacky, Wylie steered Postel over a fallen tree and got hit in the chin by Postel's head as he cleared the log. No teeth were lost,
but bragging rights were gained.) It was another adventure-filled day with Team Marsh Tacky.
-- Special Thanks to our cooks, Jimmy Maynard and Hayward Simmons. The food was delicious and plentiful. Also, thanks to all
those who contributed food, especially the desserts!
My First Time riding a Marsh Tacky
-- Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Jan Emrich shares her experience riding a Marsh Tacky for the first time at Lakeview Plantation
The morning of April 17, 2010 proved to be an adventure of a lifetime for me. I rode with my girlfriend Jennifer Fox and her
husband Steve to Lakeview Plantation in Fairfax, S.C. We did not know who we were going to meet or how our day was being
planned out for us. Both of us were very excited about getting a chance to ride a true Marsh Tacky horse. I knew next to
nothing about this breed, but I did do some reading before our trip. Mr. Hayward Simmons who runs Lakeview Plantation along
with his lovely wife Dona spoke with us and gave us the paperwork that was needed and we really enjoyed talking with him.
Then along came David Grant with his horse trailer filled to the brim with these beautiful horses. His trainer Scott Poindexter
pulled up as well. We helped David unload the horses and place them in their paddocks with fresh hay and water. David
showed Jennifer her horse Sage and mine was introduced to me as Simpson. We brushed them down and got them saddled up
for the ride. There must have been about fifteen people riding that day. Mr. Ed took the lead as our guide and off we went. Oh
boy! This was a pleasant treat. These horses have a wonderful trot and an even better canter! I felt a sense of trust right off
the bat. My sweet guy was pasture mates with Sage so you can be sure that wherever Sage went then Simpson was sure to
follow! The trails were marked very well and everyone was so very helpful and friendly.
I thought when we got back with the horses that this was it. Next thing I knew Wylie Bell was tacking up her horse and I asked
Dave if we could ride again and he was happy to let us. Another nice ride. There was a beautiful pond we rode around and we
also got to ride in the marshes and through the swamps.
Dinner was a feast to behold. It was either very, very good or else I had worked up such an appetite that my taste buds were
lying to me. Mr. Grant invited us to come back in July and experience an actual hog hunt. That does sound like fun! I can't wait!
Thank you for the invite! We met and spoke with so many nice people and I think we even made a friend or two. These animals
are everything you would want in a horse, strong, brave, calm and sensible. I was amazed that we actually rode with two if not
three stallions and all of the horses behaved so well under saddle. My horse Simpson had just turned three and was as stable
or actually more stable than my own ten year old horse. Once you have ridden a Marsh Tacky and get the taste of them, you
will want one for sure!
Thanks to each and everyone of you for making this trail ride such a pleasant experience for us.
Trail Ride at Historic Hobcaw Barony - Georgetown, SC
-- Posted on Friday, April 09, 2010
Carolina Marsh Tacky Outdoors took six horses and riders to the March 20 trail ride at the historic Hobcaw Plantation in
Georgetown, SC. Hobcaw Barony, also known as Bellefield Plantation, is a 15,000-acre nature and research preserve that is on
the National Register of Historic Places. It was purchased by philanthropist Bernard M. Baruch in the early 1900s as a winter
hunting resort, but it came under the care of his oldest daughter, Belle W. Baruch in 1964. Belle was an accomplished
equestrian and outdoorswoman.
It is believed that Marsh Tacky horses would have been used by the Baruch family for hunting, plowing and riding purposes, so
the trail ride celebrated the breed's return to the Lowcountry plantation. Other breeds besides Tackies, however, were welcome
to join the ride.
A guide led riders on a three-hour tour of the plantation, pointing out the many different natural resources, such as hardwoods,
loblolly and longleaf pines, as well as the former rice fields, slave settlements and Bellefield Airport, which was constructed for
Belle's two airplanes. Besides horseback riding, Belle had also taken up flying.
Riding for Team Marsh Tacky were David Grant on Sage, Wylie Bell on Postel, Leighton Bell on Sweet Home Alabama ('Bama'),
Daniela Snyder on Ekosan, Betty Rankin on Tebow and Carol Bale on Simpson. All lifelong equestrians themselves, Daniela,
Betty and Carol were treated to their first ride on Marsh Tackies. The ride ended with a hotdog lunch and fellowship among
many supporters of the Marsh Tacky breed.
To learn more about Hobcaw Barony's history, please visit our BREED INFORMATION page.
Marsh Tacky Races 2010 - Hilton Head Island, SC
-- Posted on Wednesday, March 03, 2010
William Green rode away from the beach on Sunday with bragging rights (until next year!) that he has the fastest Marh Tacky in
South Carolina. But the horses of Carolina Marsh Tacky Outdoors gave William's 14-year-old grulla gelding, Blue Duck, a run
for his money at the second annual Marsh Tacky Run in Hilton Head Island. The race is held in conjunction with Hilton Head's
Gullah Festival, as Marsh Tackies were once an integral part of the Gullah farming culture. The race was a tradition about 60
years ago among locals who would gather on the beach after each year's harvest to race their Tackies. Last year, the tradition
was brought back to the Lowcountry.
CMTO took six horses to the race, two of which ended up in the final gelding race against the famously swift Blue Duck. Postel,
ridden by Wylie Bell and Sage, ridden by David Grant, thundered down the beach in front of several thousand spectators
alongside Blue Duck, but in the end, Blue Duck took the win by a horse length, followed by Postel in second and Sage in third
Wylie was not disappointed in the loss. Postel, one of the smaller geldings among the CMTO horses, gave it his all and even
beat the former CMTO gelding Toogoodoo, ridden by Marion Broach, in his first race. Toogoodoo is a very tough and fiery
horse, and he and Marion finished just a few strides behind Wylie and Postel.
Besides winning in the first gelding heat with Sage, David also rode DP in the stud race against Marion Gohagen on Sabata.
Sabata retained his title from last year. Three other CMTO horses got to experience the 250-yard beach run for the first time:
Simpson ridden by Dustin Phillips, Chicora ridden by Leighton Bell and Ekosan ridden by Wylie. Ekosan, a 3-year-old filly, won
her first race but got beat pretty solidly in the second race. She is not a fast horse and will never be, but her quiet disposition
and nonchalant attitude toward new experiences such as this one are what make her special. Winning the mares' race was a
20-year-old Tacky named Molly, who showed she could also compete with the boys in the final overall race against Blue Duck
and Sabata. She might have been the senior in the group, but she showed she isn't ready to be set out to pasture just yet.
Ridden by Brittany Stevens, Molly beat Sabata and finished on the heels of Blue Duck.
Win or lose, each Marsh Tacky has unique qualities, and the event brings together Tacky owners and enthusiasts to celebrate
these legendary horses in the environment in which they thrived for several hundred years. Great job to all the horses and
General Francis Marion Memorial Day Ceremony
-- Posted on Friday, February 26, 2010
Reenactors pay great homage to the Civil War, or the War of Northern Aggression, depending on which side of the Mason-
Dixon line your family roots are planted in, but what about the war in which there was no North or South but only America?
The American Revolutionary War is nearly 236 years in our past, but remnants of that era still exist, which is why Carolina Marsh
Tacky Outdoors chose to participate in the General Francis Marion Memorial Day in Marion, S.C., on February 26, 2010.
Conclusive evidence has led many local historians to believe that Marsh Tacky horses were ridden by Marion and his troops to
fight against the British. Marion was given the nickname "The Swampfox" for using guerrilla warfare type tactics to ambush the
British in the swamps and marshes of coastal South Carolina, an environment that the British and their mounts were not used to
nor suited for. On the other hand, Marion and his militia were riding the sure-footed, swamp savvy Tackies, the common horse
of the Colonial era, to attack and evade the Redcoats.
As part of the ceremony, a wreath was placed at the foot of the General Francis Marion statue that stands in front of
the Courthouse in downtown Marion, while Revolutionary War reenactors demonstrated life as it was in the late 1700s. David
Grant and Dustin Phillips joined the reenactors with two Marsh Tackies, DP and Sage. David, who has taken great interest in
the Colonial era, hopes to one day have a full battle reenactment that would include a mounted militia - on Marsh Tackies, of
Snowing at the Farm
-- Posted on Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The Pee Dee region of South Carolina got as much as six inches of snow, which started falling on Friday, February 12 and
continued through the night. The young Tackies were intrigued by this wintry weather and wondered what happened to all the
grass! The snow didn't last long, however, as much of it was melted away by noon on Saturday. Pictured are DP and his very
pregnant broodmares, geldings ranging from ages 2 to 5 and two weanlings, whom we hope to start next summer.
Check out our slideshow:
Revolutionary Era Transportation: Bridles and Boats
-- Posted on Friday, November 06, 2009
Families who came out for the "Revolutionary Era Transportation and Boats" program at Science South at the Freedom
Florence complex got to enjoy a trip back in time with a Colonial camp, while meeting two of CMTO's Marsh Tackies. David
Grant and Wylie Bell took DP, CMTO's then 4-year-old stud, and Ekosan, a 2-year-old filly, to the exhibition about Colonial era
David gave an informative speech about how Colonial Spanish horses came to populate the New World and the many uses
horses provided to these early settlers, as well as in modern times. David spoke specifically about the history of the Marsh
Tacky breed, describing not only how General Francis Marion's men depended on the Tackies' swamp savviness to elude the
British, but also how he hog or deer hunts from the backs of these courageous little horses.
David and Wylie gave a riding demonstration under the crackling of musket fire. Ekosan, who had never been around gunfire,
jumped less than the crowd. She was a perfect lady all day, avoiding stepping on the little feet of children who surrounded her
for most of the two-hour event, enduring a lot of rubbing and patting.
Extreme Photo Shoot for South Carolina Wildlife Magazine
-- Posted on Friday, August 14, 2009
Carolina Marsh Tacky Outdoors spent a weekend with photographers Dwain and Daniela Snyder for an extreme action photo
shoot. On Friday, August 7, Dwain took pictures around the farm with some children and young folks serving as models. DP
was his usual good-natured and well-mannered self and endured many photo sessions.
Tebow also demonstrated he had plenty of DP's calm and gentle temperament. After leaving Wylie Bell's home after only about
a month and a half under saddle, he had returned to David's for a two-week break from any riding. He picked right up where he
had left off and was a perfect gentleman. He spent most of the day being ridden by 14-year-old Hunter Rogers.
Saturday morning started early with a hog hunt in Society Hill. The editor of South Carolina Wildlife magazine, David Lucas, and
a free-lance writer, Tom Poland, joined Team Marsh Tacky on the hunt to gather information and research for a story for the
magazine. Ed and Rawlins Lowndes came up from Charleston with a former CMTO Marsh Tacky, Laboca. Brian Stanton
from Mt. Pleasant also came along for the hunt, riding Postel.
The hunting party caught a 125-pound boar in a stand of pines and briars shortly into the hunt. The group also captured a
small, 90-pound hog at the end of the hunt. As always, there was some extreme riding: The group hit a really boggy mud hole
in the woods, and the horses sunk down to their chests in some places. However the Tackies pushed on through with little
struggle or panic. Tebow, who is the smallest and youngest in the group, worked up a pretty good sweat but he performed
wonderfully. David and Wylie have high hopes for this little half-Marsh Tacky.
On Sunday, the group took a "desert ride" in the sandhills of Bennettsville, followed by a trip to the Pee Dee River, where
everyone was glad to cool off in the river.
CMTO's David Grant and Holly win Big on Hilton Head
-- Posted on Friday, March 13, 2009
On February 22, the long standing tradition of beach races with Marsh Tacky horses returned to South Carolina as part of the
Annual Hilton Head Gullah Cultural Festival. The races had been a traditional affair in both the Gullah culture and with Marsh
Tacky owners throughout the Lowcountry up until the 1960s. As development on the island took hold and Marsh Tackies
declined in population, the tradition slowly disappeared. Because of the resurgence in interest with the Marsh Tacky in South
Carolina and the recent formation of a breed association, the idea of racing the horses arose with the intent of bringing
attention to the conservation efforts. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association, the Coastal
Discovery Museum of Hilton Head Island, and the Gullah Cultural Festival organizers, the idea became reality.
The broad beaches and hard packed sand of Hilton Head Island was the perfect place to bring the horses and offered ample
room for spectators. Historic Mitchellville Beach, the site of the first freemans community after the Civil War, provided the venue
needed for the event. The races themselves consisted of heats involving 2-3 horses. The horses would start at one end of the
beach, run 300 yards up the beach, then around a pole, and come back to the start as was tradition in the historic races.
Ken Heitzke, Mayor Pro-Tem of Hilton Head served as the line judge for the competition. Categories consisted of stallions,
mares, and geldings with the winners from each heat competing in a final round for an overall winner. There were close to 20
Marsh Tackies in the competition. The biggest surprise for everyone involved was the public turnout for the event. Race
organizers anticipated up to 1000 spectators, however the final headcount was nearly 3000! No one could have predicted the
enthusiasm these horses would generate in the community nor the excitement of spectators when meeting and interacting with
the rare horses. After approximately nine heats, the race winners were as follows:
First Place Stallion: Marion Gohagen on Sebata
First Place Mare: David Grant on Holly
First Place Gelding: William Green on Blue Duck
First Place Overall: David Grant on Holly
Due to the overwhelming success of the races, the Marsh Tacky races are now being held annually as a solid part of
the Gullah Cultural Festival. Special thanks and recognition goes out to the event organizers and the riders and
horses that made this day a success.