Teams are taking shape to participate in the Challenge of the Americas, a one of a kind dressage competition, to be held on March 12, 2005, at The Players Club and Palm Beach Polo in Wellington, Florida to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
An exhibition will be performed immediately before the start of the Challenge, highlighting the movements of the Grand Prix test. Silke Rembacz, who rides for sponsor Highlife Farms of Orlando, will perform this demo ride.
Riders named so far are: US Team: George Williams, Betsy Steiner, Lynda Alicki, Bent Jensen and Pamela Goodrich; Latin American Team: Patrick Burssens, Cesar Parra, Yvonne Losos de Muniz, Marco Bernal and Gabriel Armando; Canadian Team: Shannon Dueck, Ashley Holzer, Jacqueline Brooks and Evi Strasser. All of these riders have represented their respective country in International championship competition.
Each team will present two Individual Musical Freestyles that count 25% each towards the final score, and one Team Musical Quadrille ridden by four to six pairs of horse-and-rider combinations, which counts as 50% of the final score. This is the first time that a Team Quadrille at the Grand Prix level has ever been competed in the United States in this format.
Organizer Mary Ross is quick to point out that even though the Challenge is not a sanctioned competition, it will be judged according to FEI rules and standards. Celebrity judges will give marks on artistic elements, with FEI judges scoring each ride exactly as they would any other competition.
Acclaimed Musical Freestyle composer Terry Gallo will be creating the music for the US Team, and possibly also for the Latin American team; Beth Zimski will handle choreography for the US, so the artistic quality of the rides is guaranteed to exhilarate and entertain spectators.
The Musical Freestyle has been made a mandatory part of Olympic dressage competition in recent years, creating a growing interest in this format of dressage riding. The freestyle allows riders to express their creativity and display a greater degree of showmanship; it has also become increasingly competitive, and the quality of performances has improved along with its popularity.
Music and choreography can beautifully enhance the performance of horse and rider, and make this classical art entertaining and appealing to a wide audience. No matter their background, anyone can appreciate the beauty and harmony of horse and rider dancing together to music.
In the laid-back atmosphere of the Challenge, the riders can fully display their creativity and have a good time; this will show in their performances, making them even more entertaining to watch. The audience will be allowed to cheer and clap as each test is performed, so the horses and riders should perform with extra exuberance. And they might be having fun, but the riders will be highly competitive, giving it their all to win the Challenge. Spectators can cheer on their team, encouraging them to victory.
General Admission Tickets will be sold the day of the event. For an upscale experience, "The Challenge Gala" is an elegant evening of dinner and dancing following the competition. An awards presentation will be featured and guests will have the chance to meet and socialize with the riders and judges. Ms. Ross, founder of the Challenge of the Americas, has more entertainment in the works. The gala will benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, a not-for-profit 501c3 organization founded in 1993 by Evelyn H. Lauder, Senior Corporate Vice President of The Estee Lauder Companies, Inc. Since its inception, The Foundation has raised nearly $90 million to support clinical research at cancer centers, and the Challenge aims to do its part to add to that sum with its proceeds.
Challenge Sponsors to Date Include: Anheuser Busch, Cunningham & Cunningham Livestock Insurance, EquestrianGraphics.com, Highlife Farms, Klassic Kur , Marismas Sporthorses, Palm Beach Polo and Country Club, PhelpsPhotos.com , The Players Club, Play for P.I.N.K., Premier Equestrian, and United States Dressage Federation.