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Academy Riders Star In Florida Sunshine


by Ann Bullard

Put away the snowshoes, rainwear, the woolens and mittens! This year's Florida State Academy Championships featured chamber of commerce weather. It brought riders, parents, grandparents and siblings to the State Fairgrounds the first weekend in December. It was a fitting ending to a hurricane-marred season.

Katrina, Rita and Wilma did take their toll. Several of the usual participants are on the road to recovery; others' programs are down partly because of clients still cleaning up or otherwise recovering from storms of the year before. Still, competition in most classes was good with riders and parents looking forward to the official start of the Florida show season the beginning of March.

Alison Walker held the cards for all classes, bringing her husband, Todd, and son, Tyler to escape Kentucky's freezing temperatures. James Rosburg again donned his hunt clothes as ringmaster to lend an air of formality to the covered arena. Pam Roush, president of UPHA Chapter 16, sponsors of the show, chaired the show.

May Klein, of Equifinity, provided an early after-show supper of Louisiana-style red beans and rice on Saturday. Rick Davis Stables sponsored breakfast each morning.

Academy horses earn a special place in trainers', instructors' and students' hearts. Those who showed at the Florida State Academy Finals were no exception, with most carrying more than one rider to a top ribbon.

Roush juggled jobs throughout the day, helping her assistant trainers get riders into the ring as well as answering questions as the event chair. Madison Zimmerman led the Avalon victory parade, numbering the Academy Showmanship Walk, Trot and Canter and Academy Equitation 13 and Under blues among her wins. Melanie Mullis stepped up to win the Show Rider Showmanship Walk Trot and Canter Championship while Brooke Sager topped the Academy Showmanship 13 and Under class. Petite Sagrika Paul had a nice ride as the sole entry in the Showmanship Seven and Under class. In equitation competition, Stephanie Olthuff and Kirsten Povolny shared rides on Powdered Sugar, with Olthuff winning the Walk and Trot 14-16 Year-Old class and Povolny riding out with the tricolor sash and ribbon in the Academy Equitation Walk and Trot Championship for eight and nine-year-olds. Karen Lloyd rode Starheart's Winning Colors to win the Academy Showmanship and Equitation Walk and Trot 18 and Over blues.

Despite damage from this and last year's storms, Lark Henry brought a representative group of Bobbin Hollow customers from hard-hit Naples, Fla. They went back with a fist-full of top ribbons. The Varveris family and Tiger Woods posted several wins, including Ariana Varveris’ blues in the Show Rider Showmanship Walk and Trot qualifier and championship. Nicola Varveris earned the tricolor sash and qualifying blue in Show Rider Showmanship Walk, Trot and Canter competition. Joenna Nelson rode RTB Last Flash of Rum to win the tricolor in the Showmanship 14 and Over Championship and qualifier while Taylor Bryant and Wind Whistle Controversy won the Academy Showmanship Walk and Trot Riders 12 and 13-Years-Old.

Ruth Gimpel's running alongside two of her walk and trot leadline riders brought smiles to several persons' faces. She handled Jamie Boros for her winning ride in Saturday's qualifier and picked up the lead for Sunday's championship winner, Emily Knapp. Catherine Bornsheuer and Maverick earned the blue and tricolor in the 10 and 11-year old Walk and Trot Showmanship and Equitation qualifiers and championships. The perky gelding also carried Lauren Rogue to the 8 and 9-Year-Old Academy Equitation Championship and the showmanship qualifying blue. Charley Goldman earned her first blue ribbon aboard Reminiscent Star in the Showmanship Walk, Trot and Canter 14 and Over. Robyn Borjas had another tricolor aboard Reminiscent Star to win the Academy Equitation Walk, Trot and Canter Championship.

Rick Davis didn't have as far to travel, but his Tarpon Springs, Fla.-based riders had a good day. R.M. Bearly carried two different riders to top ties in six classes, with Savannah Blunt winning the Western
Showmanship Walk and Trot Championship and qualifier as well as the western equitation for walk and trot riders. Marissa Simmons stepped into the irons to win both the Academy Hunt Seat Equitation qualifier and championship.

Equifinity brought but three riders and a pair of Academy horses. Hope Norman, whose preferred spot is in Five-Gaited Pleasure, won the Show Rider Equitation qualifier.

West Coast Morgans' riders earned a trio of top ribbons. Kelly Keever rode Eastwood Titan to win the Academy Showmanship Walk and Trot blue 12 and 13 Years Old. Robyn Allen earned the Academy Hunt Seat Showmanship Walk and Trot blue and tricolor aboard Socialite's Precious Gem.

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