It’s A Wrap!
It was with obvious elation the cast and crew of The Search for America's Next Equestrian Star: Dressage gave the show its official wrap on Saturday night at The Palm Beach Players Club in Wellington.
Host and six-time Olympian Robert Dover had shed his suit for a pair of well-worn jeans and was one of the first to hit the dance floor at the elite club. He was joined by the six competitors as well as other contestants and sponsors. Shown here in the photo is Gigi Stetler, owner of RV Sales of Broward, who donated the RV's the finalists lived in as well as a four horse Exiss Trailer with living accommodations for the winner, and showjumping Olympian Nona Garson. The six finalists were: Philesha Chandler of Kansas, Lindy Bowerbank of California, Rebecca Vick of North Carolina, Brendan Curtis of Maryland, Jamil Kassum of Arizona and Jessica Jo Tate of Wisconsin. They had help celebrating, too. Many members of the Brave St. Productions crew were on hand, as well as some of the organizers and riders from the horse show that incorporated the show’s season finale into its program, the Gold Coast Grand Finale I in Wellington, hosted by the Gold Coast Dressage Association.
“It was an amazing time for all,” said Dover about the filming. All of the finalists are talented, “the cream of the crop for many different reasons,” and this show gave them the opportunity” to not only show off their talents, but springboard their career,” whatever road it may take.
All Finalists Are Future Stars
The final six contestants ranged in age from 16 to 27, but all had a special quality and “an X-factor” that made them shine, added Dover.
While the show’s winner was to be privately notified the following night, many of the inquisitive spectators claimed they could tell the winner had already been selected. But, no amount of questioning could get the answer from the secrecy-bound riders. And, they all looked like winners as they mingled among the attendees and took to the dance floor.
Jamil Kassum's family and trainer, Bev Rogers flew in for the weekend, as did JJ Tate's Mom and extended fan club who brought plenty of signage and people to cheer her on. Rebecca Vick's trainer from North Carolina Jim Kofford was on hand as well.
Brendan Curtis and Lindy Bowerbank who were part of the top six, were filled with as much joy and appreciation of being part of the process as the final four. They stayed on to get lessons from Dover daily, and all walked away with thousands of dollars in clothing, and other sponsor perks. All were happy to be headed home and to be reunited with their horses, cell phones, television, and family and friends.
Philesha Chandler’s 70-year-old grandmother, Dr. Anna Chandler, was lured out onto the dance floor when Dover personally came over and extended his hand. Anna was one of the many family members who came to the show’s season finale to show support as well as see and talk to the riders, who were not permitted outside contact for the three weeks they were filming at Dover’s Romance Farm in Palm Beach Point.
Philesha, sporting a chic, navy blue dress and heels, said she like all the contestants bonded over the course of the three-week shoot. The riders all stayed at Romance Farm in RVs during the top-secret filming of the show.
The Worlds of Televison Production and Dressage Converge
New friendships were to be had between the staff at the farm and the show’s crew, as well. Dover’s assistant trainer, Katherine Bateson-Chandler, said it was interesting to learn about what it takes to put together a TV show. “It’s a whole different world.” Plus, having the crew around was fun. Bateson-Chandler, who was looking forward to her one-year anniversary on May 7 to husband Carl, has been working with Dover for 14 years.
The show’s supervising producer, Lauren Myer of Hoboken, N.J., said this was her first time working with horses and, though she has never been on one, that is only because the opportunity has not presented itself. She and associate producer Amanda Sardone both said working with the horses presented some interesting challenges. They said the cameramen would be adjusting their sound or another component on their cameras, and the horses would nibble on their hair or start sticking their noses into some odd places.
But, horse rider or film producer or family, all mixed and mingled on the dance floor with one joyous and uniting thought: It’s a wrap!
While filming for The Search for America's Next Equestrian Star: Dressage is done, the next several months will be devoted to bringing it all together and getting it ready for the TV screen. The release date has not been established yet, but check for updates at DressageDaily.com, an official sponsor of the show, for details as soon as they are available. The show’s Web site is: americandressagestar.com
Shaneen Kohler for DressageDaily.com