Floridians Thrive after the Hurricanes at the Gold Coast Fall Fling

All Alive and Well in South Florida

The last time horses were stabled at the Stadium Jumping show grounds was in September. Horses were tucked in for the night and owners prayed that the permanent barn, built post hurricane Andrew, would protect everyone who sought refuge from hurricane Francis. The next morning, most owners couldn’t reach their horses. Most of them were blocked in their own driveways from debris. The people who could finally reach the road were sent home in early evening by mandatory curfews. Although the need to care for and protect the horses was present, a threatening sleepover in the jail was enough for many to forego night check. Horses were covered in twigs and leaves, even in the center aisles. Yet, there they stood, mostly concerned about the lone person who might show up with a bucket of grain.

The barns and other structures were perfectly intact, as hurricane Frances proved only to be the ground maintenance crew’s nightmare. The horses, who were standing in soaking stalls (from the rain that came in horizontally), were none worse for the wear, to the hundreds of people left without homes and inadequate shelter supplies. Little did residents know that this event would ravage them again only three weeks later. Still, the structures stood unscathed, just like most of the barns and properties in the hardest hit region of West Palm Beach, Florida. The worst damage would be to trees, landscaping, and pool enclosures, proving that the building codes worked, as did the fortress-like construction of the newer properties in the heavily populated equestrian community.

Hurricane photos by Ken Krauss

The Gold Coast Fall Fling
by Beverly Zimmer

Team Zopatti Scores Again

Day one of the Gold Coast Fall Fling, on November 13, was a spectacular turnout with an energetic buzz around the barns. Everyone was happy to have life back to normal, for the storm weary year-round south Florida Dressage community.

That community spirit prevailed as members emerged, comparing notes and hurricane tales. Early on, junior rider Elizabeth Mirson was hanging blue ribbons on her stall for her Holsteiner cross gelding, Fielding, to nibble. Fielding is a home bred by Fleming.

With the aid of her trainer, John Zopatti, Elizabeth won three out of four First Level classes!

Carla Morrison has five horses in training with John Zopatti. Among them is “Le Savant”, a five year old Westphalian stallion by Serra Gamo.

It was blues all the way for Carla and Le Savat in Training Level, earning the Training Level High Score of 70%.

The Gold Coast Fall Fling
by Beverly Zimmer

Bender's Back, and On Track

Under judge, Joan Humphrey, Heather Bender rode her 9-year-old Westphalian (by Wonderful) gelding, Winwood, to a victory in the Prix St. Georges. After returning from the Intermediaire Championships in California, Heather decided to keep her horse in the show ring to retain his competitive edge. “Winwood is a hot horse. He’s so keyed up for the Grand Prix, but he’s not quite ready to show.” explained Bender. Just keeping him settled in the Prix St. Georges was a challenge in itself!”

Being an over achiever, Winwood would be tempted to do single Tempi Changes and other movements from his newly found bag of tricks. But Heather kept her hottie in check and narrowly edged out the other talented competitors in the class, Gigi Brittain and Linda Todenhagen, for the top score of 69.250. Spirits were soaring at last as the storm weary riders charged forward ending the year on a positive note, with the feeling that the season had begun.