Jacksonville, FL (September 15, 2015)— When 74-year-old Celia Evans, her daughter, and granddaughter drove through the gates of the 80 acres of equestrian paradise known as the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, it was for the same reason that Grand Prix dressage rider Anna Marek also arrived at the facility: the chance to compete for a blue ribbon in the sport that they love. The Jacksonville Equestrian Center in Jacksonville, Florida, hosted the Ride Lite Dressage Show this month, offering a first-class showing experience to the dressage community.
Showing at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center was especially exciting for Ride Lite Dressage competitors, as they were some of the first riders to ever enjoy the facility’s newly installed footing. “The new footing in all the rings was very well received— everyone loved it,” commented Carlie Evans of South East Horse Shows, the organization that put on the Ride Lite Dressage Show.
Anna Marek claimed first place in the Grand Prix both days of the competition, aboard her own Unico G— a fourteen-year-old KWPN gelding (Negro x Animo). The pair rode out of both Grand Prix classes as champions with a high score of 73.20 percent. Marek is based out of Williston, Florida, at A.J. Stapleton’s Top Brass Farm, and trains with Anne Gribbons.
“My favorite thing about ‘Nico’ is that we have grown up together, made mistakes together, and had a lot of success together,” Marek said. “I owe so much to this horse. He holds a huge place in my heart!”
Marek was thrilled with the show’s convivial atmosphere and the staff. “The best part about the competition is the wonderful staff and friendly competitors,” Marek said. “Everyone seems genuinely happy for one another. Carlie Evans puts on shows that we want to come back for! I love showing at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. The stabling is very well thought out and convenient, and the indoor is a nice escape from the heat in the Florida summer.
Fellow competitor Celia Evans earned a score toward her USDF Bronze Medal at the Ride Lite Dressage Show. Celia Evans, of Dragon’s Lair Farm in Newberry, Florida, rode her granddaughter Morgan Gravely’s thirteen-year-old 14.2-hand homebred Welsh cob, Dragon’s Lair Banner, to first and second places in Third Level Test One. Gravely also earned qualifying scores for regionals on two Dragon’s Lair ponies, Dragon’s Lair Toaster Strudel and Dragon’s Lair Diliyn AP Valiant. Another member of their group, thirteen-year-old Lila Stewart, also qualified for the regional show on PPCL Annabelle in Training Level Test 3. Evan’s daughter Molly Cobb-Smith rode LJE on the Wild Side in the Prix St. Georges. Evans enjoyed the experience of showing with three generations of family dressage riders on several home-bred ponies.
Evans agreed with Marek about the quality of showing at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, adding that, as a competitor for over 20 years and a breeder of Welsh ponies at her Dragon’s Lair Farm, she has attended shows throughout the country and feels that the Jacksonville Equestrian Center is one of the best facilities around.
“It is well planned out,” she said. “The layout is nice, and the indoor coliseum-type arena is very comfortable to ride in. There’s been a lot of thought about everything that went into it, and the footing is phenomenal.”
The Jacksonville Equestrian Center was happy to host the Ride Lite Dressage competition, and looks forward to upcoming events such as the Southeast Medal Finals hunter, jumper, and equitation competition later this week. The Jacksonville Equestrian Center has served the equestrian community and the local area for ten years. It features not only new footing, but also a giant indoor arena, outdoor show rings, and more than 400 stalls. Located at 13611 Normandy Blvd., in Jacksonville, Florida, the multi-faceted center hosts a variety of events from equestrian and recreational, to sporting and community events. For more information about upcoming events at the center, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call Penny Gorton at 904-255-4227.
Photo: Anna Marek and Unico G win two Grand Prixs at the Ride Lite Dressage Show at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center (Photo courtesy of BJC Photography LLC)