Fiesta Florida 2005 – For the Pure Spanish Horse
The first Fiesta Florida, one of the most dynamic events to promote the true Spanish horse ever held in the eastern part of the United States, rocked Florida at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center June 4th and 5th. More than seventy magnificent P.R.E. – Pura Raza Espanola, horses strutted their stuff over the two frenetic days of Fiesta fun in a dazzling exhibition and competition of some of the most fabulous P.R.E. horses ever gathered on this coast. One of the fasted growing breed disciplines, known for their beauty, versatility, comfort, and athletic ability, especially for dressage, the event marked a milestone in the expansion of the breed in America.
Owners and trainers from far-flung Delaware, Missouri, Texas, Virginia and Tennessee joined their Florida counterparts in an unprecedented celebration of the PRE that dazzled everyone with its excellence in all things. This growing tradition of excellence is becoming the hallmark of all events sponsored by The Foundation for the Pure Spanish Horse.
The Foundation of the Pure Spanish Horse is a fairly new organization created in the United States by a group of dedicated and passionate breeders and enthusiasts of the breed. The Foundation was established to assist in the protection of the breed, including sharing of breeding stock and breeding information throughout the world. It was at the 2005 Fiesta Florida where the Foundation of the Pure Spanish Horse has their day in the sun, despite the overcast weather of the weekend.
About the Pure Spanish Horse – P.R.E. Pura Raza Espanola
The P.R.E. horse is an exclusive subgroup of the breed known in the United States as the “Andalusian”. This is the catch-all name for the lush-maned, rounded horses from the Iberian Peninsula, and though it includes the P.R.E. (an acronym for Pura Raza Espanola, Spanish for “pure race of Spanish Horse” ) The P.R.E is distinct in two important ways from its Iberian counterparts.
Each P.R.E. horse is descended from the bloodstock carefully bred by Philippe II of Spain, nearly five hundred years ago. Each P.R.E. has a red passport booklet showing its prestigious inclusion in the Spanish Studbook maintained by the Cria Caballar, (Spanish Military Stud), in Spain. Every P.R.E. horse must eventually pass an inspection at breeding age to have its offspring included in the same studbook. It is a “quality control” mechanism that has resulted in a spectacularly gentle, educable and supple mount. The Spanish horse is used by the Vienna Riding School and is presently a renewed sensation throughout Europe as a dressage mount. The success of the 2004 Olympic Silver Medal Spanish Team in Athens, where three of the four horses were P.R.E., solidifies the respect they have earned from Olympic Dressage judging at the toughest of levels.
Fiesta Florida at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center
An estimated six hundred Jacksonville natives visited the barns, cheered their favorites at the competition and jumped to their feet, en masse, and a number of times during the electrifying Saturday evening program. The target audience, horse-lovers who were not yet familiar with the P.R.E., could not help but be duly impressed with the “Horse of Kings“.
Friday, June 3d, Frank Weber, announcer for Medieval Times Dinner Theater Orlando, opened the morphology competition by introducing the Presentation of the Flags ceremony and singing the National Anthem. A platoon of Foundation volunteers, from California , New Mexico , Virginia and Florida , scurried to their stations. Linda Ristow, National Show Committee Chairperson for the Foundation, took her place as official score person. Barbara Clark, Foundation Executive Director, wreathed herself in raffle tickets and manned her Foundation information booth. Barbara Currie of Agora California , determined and tireless global ambassador for the PRE, was on hand to do whatever was required of her, as always.
The competing PRE horses were of a caliber seldom seen in the eastern part of the United States , and classes were full. What a sight, to witness a large yearling filly class in which each doe-eyed baby girl seemed absolutely the epitome of breeding potential.
Isaac Rodriquez Martin, flown in from Spain to judge the show, had a difficult job with such a display of horseflesh constantly before him. A recently retired full Coronel from the Ministerio de Defensa, Jefatura de Cria Caballar, he proved himself up to the challenge. Coronel Rodriquez Martin has spent many years as an active large animal veterinarian. This, along with the depth of his knowledge of the history and subtleties of conformation of the true Spanish horse, makes him one of the most respected judges in Spain , and now the United States.
Pati Pierucci and Hampton Green Farms Present Milestone Seminar
Fiesta Florida was a show that hit the ground running and never slowed its pace. Lunch was grabbed hastily Friday so exhibitors and the public could attend the simultaneously scheduled dressage seminar by Pati Pierucci, presented both days during the lunch hour. The immensely talented trainer for Hampton Green Farms of Michigan and Florida , Ms. Pierucci brought an inimitable style and natural warmth to her informative talks and the clinics for riders hungry to pick the brain of someone so familiar with the P.R.E. and its bred-in talent for dressage. Ms. Pierucci shared her knowledge of the waves the P.R.E. horse is making in Europe . The importance of this insight for American riders, owners and breeders is really immeasurable.
All participants left with a feeling of deep gratitude for the efforts of Pati and Kimberly Boyer, owner of Hampton Green, who brought horses for this demonstration and took part in the competition, thereby lending their support to The Foundation... all as they were wending their way north to the farm’s winter home, in Michigan, horses in tow!
The morphology classes continued into the late afternoon, followed by a spectacular bit of “icing on the cake”. Janne rode into the arena on the legendary Gaucho III to thrill the crowd and send them away utterly entranced. The stallion once handpicked to become an Olympic star for the Spanish Team has instead made a bigger contribution to the sport than any medal he may have earned. Brought to America by Janne Rumbough, this full brother to Invasor, the legendary Olympic and World Equestrian Games champion, appeared in public for the first time in five years since retiring to become a breeding stallion.
What a wonderful moment this must have been for the breeders of this horse, who were in the stands on this special afternoon visiting from the fabled breeding farm Senorio de Bararain, in Spain . The two brothers, Jose and Alvaro Muguruza, cheered and grinned from ear to ear with the rest of us, as the petite rider, atop her regal, alabaster stallion swept into the ring as if they’d never taken a day off from the teamwork.
Spectators sat totally entranced as Janne exhibited this creature which really looked to be DaVinci’s remarkable and massive “Il Cavallo” statue, sprung to life. The team performed with the élan you’d expect from them if you were even slightly familiar with their story. Nobody could believe it when Janne told the crowd that Gaucho had not done this kind of exhibition in five years! There was more to come for them, later in the
Fiesta Florida Knows How to Party!
In an undeniably memorable weekend, the golden social moment was the Tapas party Friday evening for tired but jubilant exhibitors. As the summer rain beat on the roof and cooled the hot and humid Florida atmosphere, the informal barn party, - generously donated by famed, premier-ranked sports fisherwoman, Margie Adams, - got underway with oohing and aahing that would have made Emeril blush!
A mouth-watering repast was gorgeously presented on groaning tables laden with culinary delights never before seen in a barn alleyway. As bemused horses looked on, their owners and fans feasted on; tiny, savory lamb chops, (to be eaten with one’s fingers), sumptuous slabs of smoked salmon served with capers and lemon sauce, twenty pounds of shrimp and pasta salad, platters of salty thick-sliced ham, and too many accompaniments and condiments to enumerate. Large baskets of fragrant, crusty breads strategically placed on the tables tempted the most determined dieter to throw caution to the rain-swept winds. For dessert, happy attendees popped fresh, red strawberries as big as babies’ fists into their mouths or helped themselves to gooey slices of either sinfully rich cheesecake, or chunky, double-iced chocolate brownies.
A sweetly wicked Sangria was the preferred “treat in the heat”, and trainer Thomas Reed ---who’d presented at least 20 horses for owners throughout the day in the punishing Florida climate, --- tapped energy reserves a super hero would envy to jump behind the buffet table with Bob Dooley.
The two longtime friends proceeded to ratchet up the fun, dishing out jokes and jibes along with the food like a well-seasoned comedy team. The Spanish judge laughed and chatted amiably with everyone clearly enjoying the festivities thoroughly.
Saturday Classes Show Versatility of the Breed
Saturday dawned overcast and cool, and the functionality tests got underway. People stood on the sidelines, or took a seat in the stands to watch the “guapo” stallions prove their mettle. The Best of Movement classes followed accompanied by frenzied cheering from all, then The Morphological Championship classes. It was a breeder’s treat to see the best standing next to the best. This was a moment very satisfying for exhibitor and audience alike.
The afternoon performance classes were judged by Glenda Bradley, PhD, a retired college professor who now holds judge’s cards for many breeds. Watching these classes, from Western Pleasure to Dressage Suitability, one could grasp how versatile the P.R.E. really is.
The Grand Finale was Putting on the Ritz!
At four o’clock, the end of the silent auction was announced and Foundation folk were downright relieved. With such offerings as; a breeding to the amazing Copon, a brand new Doma Vaquero saddle, and original art by some talented artists and artisans...it is no wonder the bidding had been competitive. With the one short pause scheduled for the show in the offing, exhibitors hurried to living quarters in their trailers or to motel rooms to freshen up and scurry back for the evening performances and the gala awards banquet.
The Grand Finale was attended by nearly four hundred folks from the community. The opening flag ceremony and sweet rendition of the National Anthem by Stephanie Zilo, just thirteen, preceded one of the most polished and electrifying performances imaginable.
Tom Reed - Master of the Horse at Medieval Times Dinner Theater and of the P.R.E.
Tom Reed finished earning the title of “Hardest Working Man in Florida ” as he came into the ring four different times with four different horses brought from Medieval Times. After having shown the majority of the horses in hand and under saddle throughout the competition portion of the event, Reed wowed the crowd with some of the stars of the show, as well as breeding stock from his farm in Central Florida .
One horse was used to demonstrate long-line techniques, and one to dance on his powerful hind legs wowing the audience with the corbette. Mr. Reed, Master of the Horse at Medieval Times Dinner Theater, coaxed an astonishing number of caprioles from one energetic stallion and the crowd went wild. He would be back to finish the show.
Lee Burton and her Stallion Amando Demonstrate Versatility and Ability
Lee Burton, on her lovely gray stallion, Amando, stole everyone’s heart for the PRE with the cleverest “hands on” lesson on the breed’s gentle nature. After riding her highly trained dressage stallion in an Intermediaire I Freestyle, Lee took off all of Amando’s tack and began to ask the horse rather leading questions.
Of course, he stood there, unfettered and willing, like the wonderful companion he is. Lee has trained Amando to answer her queries with a nod or shake of the head. In her monologue, she shares with a rapt audience that the beautiful creature has told her she’s too heavy and that he’d like a smaller rider! Amando, with a nod of the head finally selects someone from the audience to ride him.
The new rider is tiny, seven year old Erin , togged out in a hunt class costume. A hunt saddle is quickly positioned on Amando’s back, and the imp climbs aboard. As Lee protests loudly to the audience that this highly trained dressage horse is certainly not going to perform for a mere child, docile Amando canters obediently off with his little charge.
Burton ’s performance that night demonstrated just one of the many assets the P.R.E. horses have to offer. She had also competed him throughout the weekend in just about every class he was able to be in, as well as being the Flag bearer in the opening and closing ceremonies.
Burton , who has only been riding dressage for 5 years, is competing at the FEI levels. Her stallion won his stallion class, and then Lee proceeded to compete him in both hunt seat and western saddles. Armando, none worse for the wear, just like a P.R.E., then had a lesson with Pati Pierucci on Sunday morning before returning to their St. Simons , Georgia home.
Lily Zilo Brings Family and Friends To Fiesta Florida
It looked like a mini Wellington party, as the Windsor Stables contingent arrived at Fiesta Florida . Lily Zilo, who with her husband Alex owns Windsor Stables of Wellington Florida, made two glittering appearances during the Finale. One of the costumes she wore was a Venetian masquerade outfit, complete with feathered masque. It absolutely transported the audience back to the renaissance, and the European tradition of the pre-lenten carnivale.
In another part of the exhibition Lily rode Edil again, another of the Zilo family‘s imports from Spain. Once again, she was elegance personified adorned in an opulent Spanish costume of crushed navy velvet, embroidered intricately with gold. echoing Windsor ’s colors.
Zilo also competed Edil throughout the weekend in dressage and hunt seat managing to change outfits five times in five hours. Enraptured by the P.R.E. breed, the Zilos and Windsor Stables have made a strong contribution through their presence and work for the Foundation of the Pure Spanish Horse.
Global Stars of the P.R.E. World; Copon and Gaucho III
Time froze for everyone as two global stars of the PRE world; Copon and Gaucho III entered the ring with Linda Smith and Janne Rumbough aboard, respectively. Gaucho, a scintillating natural athlete of incomprehensible proportions, performed the passage and piaffe, effortlessly in center arena, again evoking a work of art come to life, as the smoothly-silken Copon, circled the perimeter displaying the most thrilling natural carriage. People stood to cheer and just get the best view of these two super-novas of the equine world. Many people were deeply moved. I saw tears brushed from many eyes, as the audience again came spontaneously to their feet.
Most P.R.E. lovers know that Gaucho III, half-brother of Olympic legend Invasor, has had an amazing dressage career with Janne Rumbough astride. She is a consummate horsewoman who has competed in dressage competitions internationally. The story of Windsor Stables’ Copon is fast becoming part of the PRE lore as well. Copon has only recently won a bronze at SICAB and the title of Champion Stallion at EQUINOVAL, the Spanish National Championships sponsored by the Cria Caballar...all accomplished in one short, tumultuous year. He is sure to become a national treasure in the United States , as Gaucho III already is.
A Fiesta to Remember
When the Grand Finale was over, there was a Paella banquet waiting on the concourse for exhibitors, well-wishers and friends. Tables decorated in the purple and gold Foundation colors sparkled with gay confetti. Each table was adorned with a vase of flowers on a revolving crystal stand that had a lovely PRE horse etched inside. The boisterous group, (though completely decorous throughout,) had a grand time wishing show committee member, Alex Zilo, happy birthday in song and toast. He generously returned the favor by turning the cash bar into an open bar with a whisper in the right ear.
The diners cheered and feted all the class winners and everyone who’d worked so hard to make the show the stunning success that it had been. Just as people were looking wistfully at the enormous art quality trophies donated by Mike and Connie Connelly of Manor Hill Farms for a lucky few, it was announced that someone at each table would take home the oh-so-collectible crystal centerpieces, as a gift from Tom Reed of Lost Art Training Center . Chairs were upturned as banquet guests laughed like kids and checked for the number under the chair.
It was a sun-filled, rain -baptized Fiesta to remember. It was a sure-to-be-repeated moment of bliss for the PRE aficionados on the east coast. Participants will remember it all with fond hearts and will surely want to recapture the magic and dazzle --- while introducing more people to the PRE at Fiesta Florida in the coming years. The colorful, collectible premiums and programs for this show will be treasured keepsakes. The wonderful PRE is finally being bred in the eastern part of the United States with an eye to its true Spanish roots. It is sincerely to be hoped that the generations to follow will delight horse lovers in this part of the country for many years at a Fiesta Florida, which grows and continues to outdo itself.
By Marie Dooley and Mary Phelps
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Horsesdaily "On the Scene" at the 2005 Fiesta Florida
Who's Who: Pati Pierucci
Sales and Training Facilities: Hampton Green Farms