Marsh Tacky race to go on without sponsor (updated)

tbarton@islandpacket.comJanuary 29, 2014 

A marsh tacky horse and rider compete in Saturday's races on Daufuskie Island.

SUBMITTED

  • Letter from JT Bramlett

    The following letter was sent to reporter Tom Barton clarifying points about Melrose on the Beach made in a story published Jan. 30, 2014

    January 30, 2014

    Dear Tom,

    Thank you for agreeing to make the following corrections to the story that appeared today in the Island Packet related to the 2014 Marsh Tacky Races on Daufuskie.

    The following statements in the article are incorrect:

    "…Melrose can no longer afford to sponsor the event and is selling the stables used to board the marsh tackies."

    The correct information is as follows:

    Melrose on the Beach chose not to sponsor the Marsh Tacky event this year because we are currently renovating the equestrian center and anticipate we will be renovating the Melrose Inn and a number of cottages this spring during the time of the event. For these reasons, we chose not to commit to sponsor the event again in 2014. We will, however, be interested in sponsoring the event in the future; it was a great success last year and we look forward to being involved again.

    Melrose is not selling the stables. On the contrary, we are excited about plans for expanding the equestrian center and are currently exploring the possibility of adding polo fields and additional polo-related events and training programs to our equestrian venue.

    Thank you for helping us provide the correct information to the public. If we can be of assistance to you in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Catherine Tillman is our Director of Communications and can be reached at ctillman@melroseonthebeach.com or you can call her at 843-683-3699.

    Sincerely,

    JT Bramlette
    Owner Melrose on the Beach/Managing Partner, The Pelorus Group

<em>This story was updated Jan. 30, 2014, to incude a statement from JT Bramlett, owner of Melrose on the Beach.</em>

Despite losing its sponsor, the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association says it will continue to race the horses along the beach on Daufuskie Island as planned this year, but aims to bring the event back to Hilton Head Island with a new sponsor in 2015.

This year's race is set for March 29."We will have a race, but it won't be on as grand a scale," said association secretary Jackie McFadden.

Previous marsh tacky races were held on neighboring Hilton Head during the annual Gullah celebration, which kicks off Friday. The races were moved to Daufuskie last year after two sponsors pulled out late in 2012. A disagreement between the association and native islanders about who could compete in the annual run also caused acrimony.

Marsh tackies are slightly smaller than standard horses and are descended from Spanish horses brought to the South Carolina and Georgia Sea Islands in the 1500s.

About 1,500 people watched last year's fifth annual Marsh Tacky Beach Race, sponsored by Melrose on the Beach, a resort on Daufuskie's eastern shore.

JT Bramlette, owner of Melrose on the Beach on Daufuskie Island, issued a statement Thursday about its sponsorship of the Marsh Tacky event this year.

Bramlette said the resort chose not to sponsor this year's race beause of renovations to its equestrian center, inn and cottages this spring, during the event.

"We will, however, be interested in sponsoring the event in the future; it was a great success last year and we look forward to being involved again," Bramlette wrote. "Melrose is not selling the stables. On the contrary, we are excited about plans for expanding the equestrian center and are currently exploring the possibility of adding polo fields" and polo-related events and training.

This year, the association will conduct the race with help from Daufuskie ferry operator Wick Scurry and Bloody Point Golf Club and Resort, McFadden said.

Scurry, owner of J&W Corp., has agreed to again haul the horses over by barge and run a ferry from Hilton Head. Bloody Point has agreed to run a ferry from Savannah, and a private owner on Daufuskie has agreed to board the horses, McFadden said. Attempts Tuesday to reach a Bloody Point representative were unsuccessful.

With Melrose out as sponsor, the venue was changed to the public beach access between Bloody Point and Melrose. The format, however, will be the same, McFadden said.

Riders atop saddled mares, geldings and stallions will race the 400-yard beach course. Winners in each class will get trophies and the chance to compete for the Marsh Tacky Cup, which goes to the fastest horse. McFadden said about 15 horses are expected to compete, the same as last year.

Organizers acknowledge the challenges in hosting the event on an island with no bridge. There is no cost to attend the race, but spectators who don't live on Daufuskie must pay $50 for round-trip ferry tickets or make other arrangements.

Hundreds are expected to attend this year, but that's far fewer than the several thousand who watched on Hilton Head, McFadden said.

"For future races, we are trying to look for a place on Hilton Head to allow more people to attend," she said. "We realize it's cost prohibitive for people to come over to Daufuskie on the ferry, but appreciate all Daufuskie has done" to accommodate the race.

On Hilton Head, the Gullah Celebration will conclude its monthlong celebration with a Marsh Tacky Horse Exhibition on Feb. 23 on Beach City Road.

The event will feature horses and riders from the Black Cowboy Festival in Rembert, who will participate in horsemanship demonstrations and share the history of African-American cowboy and farm life, festival director Sandra Myers said.

The Gullah community used the horses for everything from field work and transportation to celebrating the holidays by racing them.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.

Related content:

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service