Wellington, FL - As 12-year-old baton twirler Kayden Muller led the procession to the piping tunes of Shirley Temple Black, the pink motif customary at the 2015 Challenge of the Americas (COTA) event was carried a step further, literally, as Team Showchic’s 20 dressage-connected volunteers shaped a giant pink ribbon on centerline. Signed by spectators honoring the names of cancer survivors and loved ones in remembrance, the tribute conveyed the very real message that we are all in the fight against cancer together. Team Showchic’s riders, Mary-Cameron Rollins, Annie Peavy, Hannah Michaels, Klendy Muller, Jessica Rhinelander, Ariana Chia, alternate Alexandra Duncan, rode to powerful music all written and performed by cancer survivors like Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crowe, Olivia Newton-John, Shirley Temple Black making a strong impression on everyone present.
Erin Swaney of Erin Swaney Dressage was the quadrille coach, choreographer, and ribbon mastermind and Karen Robinson of Applause Dressage arranged the music.
ShowChic, already a COTA supporter, stepped up to a team sponsorship role in 2014. “The ribbon looked fantastic from the stands, the execution was truly professional. The Team ShowChic's performance was from the heart and it showed throughout,” says owner Michele Hundt. “It’s fun to watch the young Team ShowChic grow and develop each COTA, each new addition brings new ideas. Doug and I are most grateful for everyone’s time and hard work.”
Mary-Cameron Rollins has worked for and been sponsored by ShowChic for many years, and asked if this year she could take over the reins and get the team ready. “I’ve wanted to participate in the quadrille as I have watched COTA from the sidelines for many years, and watched some of the practices when training with George Williams a few years ago.”
She thanked Erin Swaney Tamara Gerber, and Mary Ross for their organizational expertise. “Erin donated a considerable amount of time and energy, and we never would have been able to pull it off without her. Her patience, determination, and ability to organize six girls who are all trying to compete and run a business at the same time is no easy task and I’m pretty sure she deserves a medal for it,” Mary-Cameron says.
Going under the lights alongside her teammates, Mary-Cameron relished the atmosphere of the ring and the spirit of the evening. “The crowd makes any performance feel like the ride of your life. My grandmother was a three time survivor of breast cancer, so this performance was particularly emotional for me. I wanted to make her proud. I know she would have loved it.”
Part of Team ShowChic last year, Hannah Michaels admitted it was a little emotional with the music and the meaning behind it. “I think everyone has been touched by cancer in one way or another, so it feels so great to be trying to make a difference,” she says. “We could hear the crowd and that was part of the fun! All the hours or practicing for sure paid off. We definitely would have not been able to do it without Erin’s guidance and time.”
The poise of these young riders and their dedication to shelve horseshowing to devote to the hours of practice needed to hold their own against seasoned professional Grand Prix rider teams sponsored this year by Purina and Merrill Lynch, speaks to the unique draw that COTA is for both riders, supporters and spectators.
For Klendy Muller, age 18, riding in a quadrille was a totally new experience, along with most of her teammates. “Being given the opportunity to ride in it the Challenge of the Americas means so much to me,” she says, thrilled to help bring awareness to the cause.
“I have to say, watching polo Sundays from up in the stands versus actually riding on the field is a whole other story! Personally, being able to hear the crowd during our performance and after our last salute was so encouraging. It felt as though all of our hard work and many practices really paid off!”
What better way to show off dressage, hone those aids, have fun and entertain for a cause? The partnership really does tie together sponsors, professionals, riders, horse owners, volunteers, supporters and area farms.
ShowChic thanks OS Dressage in Wellington for stabling the team and young riders from Lendon Gray’s Emerging Dressage Athlete Program for assisting with the ribbon crew. ShowChic would also like to Thank, Kastel Denmark, Lisa Wallace Dressage Sport Boots, C4 Belts, Lucy Voelk Browbands, Back on Track for their donations.
The 2015 Challenge of the Americas, presented by Deloitte, kicked off again with elite show jumpers competing over a Gambler’s Choice course to rack up points for each team, followed by high performance dressage quadrilles. Held at the International Polo Club Palm Beach: proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through their partner, Play for P.I.N.K. (Prevention, Immediate Diagnosis, New Technology, Knowledge).
All Photos Taken by - Brian Roze