Stillwater News Press

Our World

August 26, 2013

Horse-obsessed town in Virginia bristles as an outsider buys magazine

MIDDLEBURG,Va. — They've bemoaned it at the saddlery shop in downtown Middleburg, Va. They've talked about it at the tack place across the street. Loyal readers of The Chronicle of the Horse have even grilled one of the magazine's reporters about her publication's future while she was on a morning trail ride.

In horse-crazy Middleburg, people are still stirred up about last month's sale of the 76-year-old Chronicle, the nation's preeminent news source for all things equine. The Middleburg-based magazine, owned for much of its life by the local Ohrstrom family, is now in the hands of Mark Bellissimo, the majority owner of the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Fla., the world's largest horse show circuit.

Now, the magazine's devotees worry, Bellissimo might use their horse bible - billed on its Facebook page as "The Wall Street Journal of Horse Sports . . . but better!" - as a promotional vehicle for his annual 12-week Florida horse show circuit, an accusation that the new owner strongly denies.

In an interview, Bellissimo vowed that he will never meddle with the editorial mission of the Chronicle, which covers horse sports around the world and in recent years has written about illegal horse injections and horse slaughter. Bellissimo, whose company, Wellington Equestrian Partners, owns and operates more than $250 million worth of assets, said he wouldn't halt the Chronicle from digging into his own business.

"I don't think we've ever done anything to elicit an investigation, but do I believe there's a circumstance where I might make a decision that catches some attention? Absolutely," Bellissimo said. "There's going to be a circumstance where [the Chronicle] is going to call it like they see it."

Since Bellissimo, 51, purchased the Chronicle in mid-July, readers have been venting in the magazine's online forum, a kind of country club for mannered and fanatical horse enthusiasts. To even register as a commenter, one must answer trivia questions like: "If Mr. Ed was an off-the-track Thoroughbred, we might have seen one of these when he was flapping his lips with Wilbur." (Answer: Tattoo.) Or: "If the farrier shoes three geldings in front and trims four more, how many shoes does the farrier need?" (Answer: Six.)

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Our World
Must Read
Buy & Share Photos
NewsPress e-Edition
NewsPress Specials
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Stocks
NDN Video
Tsarnaev Friend Is Convicted In First Boston Marathon Trial Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open NOW TRENDING: Real life Pac-Man Explosions as hot air balloon crashes in Clinton DUI Driver Dragged to Safety by Officer After Walking Onto Busy Freeway Celebrities That We'd Like to Send to the Moon