Tag Archives: Jacksonville Equestrian Center

From Gypsies to Ropers, Jacksonville Equestrian Ctr. Welcomes Horses and Riders from across US

Photo courtesy of SDPhotography.

Jacksonville, FL (January 22, 2017) – It’s another busy month at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center in Jacksonville, Florida – a top destination for equestrians and horse enthusiasts across the United States. For the sixth consecutive year, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center was proud to host nearly 100 horses and 150 riders from across the country this past weekend for the Florida Feathered Horse Classic and Feathered Horse Classic Gypsy National Championship. Now, the center is filled with agriculture professionals and equestrian facility managers for the League of Agricultural and Equine Centers Footing Academy and Symposium. Immediately afterward, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center will transform again into the competition grounds for the highly anticipated National Team Roping League Finals.

For Gail Shrine, owner of the Feathered Horse Classic competition series, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center was the perfect place to host her shows. “It is a great location, with a nice facility that continues to evolve as the needs of its exhibitors grow. We can’t wait to see the horses come back here in 2018,” Shrine said.

The Florida Feathered Horse Classic and Feathered Horse Classic Gypsy National Championship event at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center is part of the biggest and longest-running breed show series for Gypsy Vanners in the United States. “The Nationals drew huge crowds, and you could feel the excitement grow to a fever pitch for the Liberty class, which featured 22 individual horse performances to music,” Shrine recounted. “It was thrilling to see the class go down in Feathered Horse history as one of the most successful ever!”

Increasing the success of horse shows and events is the passion of the staff at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, and new events are always welcome at the facility. Returning events, of course, are also a favorite at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. The upcoming National Team Roping League Finals on January 26-29 surpasses even the Feathered Horse Classic series in the number of years the show has been held in Jacksonville – 2017 will be the twelfth year that the National Team Roping League Finals has been held at the facility.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center’s unique history started with a citizens’ initiative called the Better Jacksonville Plan. After the Navy closed its base at Cecil Field, it gave 2,000 acres to the City of Jacksonville for a regional recreational park. The crown jewel of that park is its 80-acre state-of-the-art equestrian center. More great events are planned as the Jacksonville Equestrian Center welcomes another year of great equestrian, family, and educational events. The League of Agricultural & Equestrian Center Footing Academy and Annual Symposium is taking place on January 20-25, followed by the National Team Roping League Finals January 26-29. Next up will be the AKC Pals & Paws Agility Trials on February 3-5, the Jacksonville RV Show on February 9-12, and the First Coast Classical Dressage Show on February 18-19. Learn more at www.jaxequestriancenter.com.

Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Debbie Stegner (904)-255-4215
dstegner@coj.net
13611 Normandy Blvd,
Jacksonville, FL 32221

Barrel Racers Fill the Jacksonville Equestrian Center for the 14th Annual Fiddler’s Turkey Run

Photo courtesy of SDPhotography.

Jacksonville, FL (December 8, 2016) — Horses and riders from as near as the southeast United States and as far as Canada descended on Jacksonville, Florida for the 14th Annual Fiddler’s Turkey Run, held at the end of November at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. More than 600 entries vied for over $106,000 throughout the three days of barrel racing competition.

The Fiddler’s Turkey Run has been held for the past seven years at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, and has continued to grow every year. Paul Stanley, who assists Sabra O’Quinn in managing the Fiddler’s Turkey Run, said, “This is a great facility with plenty of stalls and RV hookups. We’ll be back next year!”

Many riders are already looking forward to a return trip in 2017 to the facility, which boasts a 3,500-seat 150′ x 300′ indoor arena, several outdoor arenas, and over 400 permanent stalls. Longtime Fiddler’s Turkey Run entries as well as new faces to the competition enjoyed the experience at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center this year.

“This was my first time here at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, and I love it. This is a beautiful facility,” said Kaitlin Chieca of Vero Beach, Florida. “The grounds are wonderful. The people have been fantastic – this is a class act!” Chieca competed two horses at the Fiddler’s Turkey Run – her own “Jacob,” and Heidi Thompson’s “Pinkie.” She was happy with her results, especially as this was only her third show ever on Pinkie. Although for Chieca, the highlight of the weekend wasn’t the scores, but the trip around the barrels.

“The adrenaline rush when you shoot out of the alley way – there’s nothing like it,” Chieca explained. “It can be a little scary, but it’s worth it every time. There’s something about riding something this big and being in control of it – it’s just the craziest feeling. It’s awesome!”

Eleven-year-old Kaitlyn Sims of Elkton, Florida shares Chieca’s passion for barrel racing. Sims was the big winner Sunday in the Fiddler’s Turkey Run Open, turning in a blazing time of 15.08 aboard her Quarter Horse, Specta Goodtime. The pint-sized jockey has been riding since she was two years old and competes in junior rodeos as well as the barrel racing shows. Why spend so much time in the saddle? “I like being able to go fast,” Sims explained.

Sims and her mother, Jennifer Lee-Sims, are no strangers to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. “We love this facility because it’s close to home,” said Lee-Sims. “We try to come to all the big events that they have here.”

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center was thrilled to once again host the Fiddler’s Turkey Run and all of its talented barrel racers. Sponsors for the Fiddler’s Turkey Run included Equine Medical Center of Ocala, Santa Fe Horse Transport, Wrangler, Formula 1 Noni, Sebelle Dymmek, Triple Crown Feed, Formula 707, 5L Performance Horses, and Seminole Equine Products.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center’s 2016 calendar has several more exciting events planned before the end of the year, including the USDAA Pals & Pals Agility Trials on December 9-11, and Community Night Schooling on December 20. Parking and admission for spectators is free for all events.

For more about the Jacksonville Equestrian Center and to find out how to host your event at this multifaceted facility, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call (904)-255-4254.

Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Debbie Stegner (904)-255-4215
dstegner@coj.net
13611 Normandy Blvd,
Jacksonville, FL 32221

Competitors Enjoy Another Year of Southeast Medal Finals at Jacksonville Equestrian Center

Dominique Gonzalez (Photo courtesy of Nicole Schultz)

Jacksonville, FL (September 26, 2016)  – The Jacksonville Equestrian Center was proud to once again host the Southeast Medal Finals – three exciting days of competition for equitation riders, hunters, and jumpers of all ages and levels – on September 16-18, 2016. Now in its fifth year, this special end-of-summer horse show implemented several well-received changes for 2016, including new classes and the return of the Jumper Finals to the World Cup Format.

Known for its combination of traditional and unique classes (such as the Equitation Team Challenge of the States, a team competition open to junior and adult amateur riders representing their home states), the Southeast Medal Finals drew a number of competitors and spectators from all over the Southeastern U.S. Those who could not attend tuned into the action through live streaming of the event by National Sports Broadcasting.

Phoebe Alwine, winner of the 2016 Southeast Junior Medal Finals at the show, has competed at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center before and always looks forward to her rides there. “I really like to show in the indoor coliseum,” she said, referring to the venue’s massive indoor arena, which can seat a couple thousand spectators. “I don’t normally get to show in an indoor arena, so it’s a nice change. I will likely return next year with my jumpers and my equitation horse.”

Alwine, who is based out of Boca Raton, Florida and trains with Jane Fennessy and Vinissa Blann of Carriage Hill Farms in Delray Beach, captured the blue ribbon with Fennessy’s nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood Quasa Grande, a catch ride for the competition. “Riding Quasa Grande, a different horse, was such a fun opportunity,” she said. “The most difficult part of the competition was adapting quickly to a new horse, but I love doing that, and I learn more when I do so.”

Sabrina Schmidt from Barrett Farm in Oviedo, Florida also faced the challenge of competing on a new horse at the Southeast Medal Finals. Schmidt teamed up with a friend’s horse, The Only Exception (known as “Gatsby”), not long before the competition, when her original mount was unable to compete. Despite Schmidt and Gatsby’s short time together, they won the Silver Medal in the Ovation Low Adult Medal Final, and the Bronze Medal in the Southeast Low Adult Hunter Final. “I could not be happier! This was my second time competing at the Southeast Medal Finals. I love these finals and can’t wait to come back next year,” Schmidt said.

Dominique Gonzalez of Ocala, Florida, who trains with her father Terry Gonzalez of TM Hills International and Don Stewart of Don Stewart Stables, also brought home a handful of gorgeous ribbons to display in her barn. Like Alwine, Gonzalez is a return competitor to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center and the Southeast Medal Finals, and she brought three horses to the show this year. While many competitors consider the Southeast Medal Finals to be an end-of-summer season culmination, Gonzalez sees it as the perfect warm-up for the winter season. “Competing at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center gives me the opportunity to prepare for all of the indoor series later in the year,” she explained.

Gonzalez captured a double victory in the Junior Hunter Finals, placing first with her own horse, eight-year-old Belgian Warmblood Ingo de Kalvarie, and second with six-year-old Belgian Warmblood Euro D’hyrencourt, owned by a client of TM Hills International. She also placed third in the Equitation Challenge with Ingo de Kalvarie, second in the Southeast Junior Medal Finals with Euro D’hyrencourt, and first in the Junior Jumper Finals with 13-year-old Coca II, a new horse that she recently began to lease. Gonzalez was thrilled with the performance of all three horses, especially considering that two of the horses had never shown indoors before this weekend.

“I just got Coca two or three weeks ago, and this was only my second show with her. It was also Euro’s and Ingo’s first time in that indoor arena,” said Gonzalez. “That was a bit nerve-wracking for me. I had to learn how to help them through the turns and to settle into that ring well, but it went great and I was super happy with them after that weekend. I think I learned a lot about my horses.”

Gonzalez is eager to return to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center to take advantage of its indoor arena and stabling, which includes over 400 permanent 10’ by 10’ stalls designed for horses’ comfort and safety, each with electric and hot water. “I love the show grounds, and I love the barns. We will definitely be attending several shows in Jacksonville next year,” she said.

Penny Gorton, head of the Jacksonville Equestrian Center Business Development and Board Director for the Northeast Florida Equestrian Society, was glad to hear it. “We loved having the Southeast Medal Finals back at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center for another year,” she said. “All the riders and horses should be so proud of a job well done. We hope to see you all back here again next year!”

After the successful completion of another year’s Southeast Medals Finals, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center is turning its attention to a variety of upcoming equestrian and non-equestrian events, including the Jacksonville BUBBLE RUN™ on October 1, Community Night Schooling on October 18, and the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair Association 4-H Horse Show on October 21-22. For more information on upcoming events and the Jacksonville Equestrian Center’s facility and amenities, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call Penny Gorton at (904) 255-4227.

For more information, contact:
Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Penny Gorton 904-255-4227
PGorton@coj.net
13611 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32221

Favorite Mustang Trainer, Jimbo Albritton, Embarks on Next Wild Horse Training Journey

Photo courtesy of SDPhotography.

Jacksonville, FL (July 14, 2016) – It’s been over two months since the Extreme Mustang Makeover drew crowds to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center to watch recently tamed Mustangs perform impressive feats before being auctioned off to permanent homes. Local Jacksonville trainer and Extreme Mustang Makeover entry Jimbo Albritton, though, has still not gotten his chance to exhibit his Mustang in the competition due to a last-minute injury. So after spending time this summer training at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, Albritton will be heading to the next Extreme Mustang Makeover with the support of the Jacksonville community behind him.

It was a perfect example that things don’t always go as planned – especially in the horse world – when Jimbo Albritton’s assigned Mustang mare, Penney, tore a suspensory before the Extreme Mustang Makeover at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center in May. Albritton opted to pull her out of the competition rather than have her endure any unnecessary pain. Although the rules of the competition still stood for Penney – the Mustangs must be auctioned off after spending 100 days working with a trainer – there proved to be luck in store for Albritton and the Mustang mare.

Albritton’s “lucky Penney” has had her fair share of luck (especially since landing in Albritton’s care). Instead of her going to a new home, one of Albritton’s sponsors purchased Penney for him so that he could continue to give her the care she needs to heal.

“Penney is now doing much better than expected and is healing great,” Albritton said. “She is now getting some monitored turn out in a small paddock. She has not been lame at all. She will have a re-check with her vet most likely in the beginning of August, and then hopefully we can start riding her again. It may be a far stretch, but we do have a ranch horse show at the end of September that I think she would be very successful in. If the vet clears her to work, I may try conditioning her back for that. If not, we will wait to do those shows next year and, in the meantime, she will be my go-to horse at the ranch for working the new colts and cow work. She will also be ridden by my two-year-old little girl Kendall, because that is who she really belongs to!”

While Penney rehabilitates, Albritton is keeping busy with many other endeavors, including signing up for the next Extreme Mustang Makeover competition that will be held in Fort Worth, Texas, on September 15-17. For this competition, he was assigned a new Mustang called Cassius. The 100 days that Albritton spends transforming Cassius from a wild horse to a trained horse will include riding and clinics at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. The 80-acre facility features an enormous indoor arena for all all-weather riding, several outdoor arenas, more than 400 stalls, and accessibility to miles of trails.

Albritton and Cassius will be at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center for the Double Up Horsemanship Clinic on July 16-17, a clinic that Albritton is co-instructing with Mike Woodard. While Cassius isn’t quite ready to participate in the clinic, Albritton plans to trailer him out to get him exposure to a new setting and the stimulus that horses experience at an event.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is proud to be a part of helping the area’s favorite Mustang trainer with his newest project, and also stands behind Albritton in his efforts outside of the arena. Albritton is currently dedicating time to helping two local residents overcome tragedies. On July 9, he held a benefit barrel race for Jacee Beth Thomas at Albritton’s facility in Green Coves Springs. Barrel racer Thomas was injured in an accident when a train struck her car, and she is now on the long and costly road to recovery. Albritton hopes that the proceeds from the event will help provide Thomas and her family with some financial support.

Albritton is also working with the organization Dreaming of Three to help brighten the life of Kasen, a young cancer patient. Albritton plans to host an event that will let the young boy experience the animals on Albritton’s ranch amidst friends, family, and supporters in Jacksonville. Albritton also hopes to have a blood donation bus at the event, as Kasen is in need of blood donations. For more information on how to contribute to these efforts, contact Albritton at james.albritton@rocketmail.com.

Meanwhile at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, other events open to the public will immediately follow the Double Up Horsemanship Clinic. Next up will be Community Night Schooling on July 19, and then the #GetLikeHeather Car Show on July 30. For more information, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call Penny Gorton at (904) 255-4227.

For more information, contact:
Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Penny Gorton 904-255-4227
PGorton@coj.net
13611 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32221

Florida RV Trade Association Regional Chapter Donates $15,000 to Jacksonville Equestrian Center

Left to right: Harold Bullington, Ken Lloyd, Peggy Fuller, Patti Tebow, Jerry Tempio, Joanne Connell, and Penny Gorton. (Photo courtesy of SDPhotography)

Jacksonville, FL (July 8, 2016) – After the Northeast Florida Chapter of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) spent years enjoying the success of its annual Jacksonville RV Show at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, the FRVTA decided to give back to the center in a big way. The FRVTA recently donated $15,000 to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center to go towards making improvements to the already exceptional facility, which hosts everything from FRVTA RV shows to dog agility trials to major equestrian events year round.

According to the FRVTA Region 6 Treasurer, Gerard (Jerry) Tempio, “The decision for the FRVTA to make this donation was based on trying to help the community and the partners that help FRVTA grow in northeast Florida.”

Thanks to the generous donation, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center will be able to amplify RV accessibility at the center, ultimately adding more dual-amps for RV use at the center’s south parking lot, which currently offers 78 parking pads.

The donation is a result of several years of quality partnership among the FRVTA, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, and the support of the public, who have flocked to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center for previous FRVTA events.

“We’re just happy that the public has supported our two regional RV shows every year, which has really put us in a good financial position to make the donation,” Tempio said.

Speaking on behalf of the Northeast Florida Equestrian Society (the board that manages the Jacksonville Equestrian Center), Joanne Connell expressed her gratitude. “This is huge for us, and the board is so grateful!”

Connell explained that the donation – which the board hopes to double through a matching grant – will have the ability to make a strong, positive impact on the community.

“Working along with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, these types of donations help us to make capital improvements that will attract more people, bring in additional shows and events, and generate more economic impact of the west side of the city,” Connell said.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is currently a popular destination for local Jacksonville residents as well as people throughout the southeastern U.S. The facility often opens its riding arenas to the public, and the Olympic-sized swimming pool, miles of trails, golf course, and recreational park that surround the center are available year-round. On weekends, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center is bustling with horse shows, dog agility competitions, 4-H events, or concerts. Along with its impressive outdoor amenities on 80 beautiful acres in Jacksonville, Florida, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center features a massive 123,000 square foot indoor coliseum and horse barns with over 400 permanent stalls.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is actively seeking additional donors to make further capital improvements, including an open-air covered area, two additional rings, a schooling area, and a livestock cover.

For more information about the Jacksonville Equestrian Center or how you can help the facility impact the northeast Florida community, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call Penny Gorton at 904-255-4227.

For more information about FRVTA, call the association at 813-741-0488 or visit www.frvta.org.

For more information, contact:
Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Penny Gorton 904-255-4227
PGorton@coj.net
13611 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32221

Jacksonville Equestrian Center Helps Hope Therapy Riders Prepare for Florida State Special Olympics

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Davenport.

Jacksonville, FL (July 6, 2016) — Ever since mother and daughter duo Marianne and Rebecca Davenport founded Hope Therapy in Middleburg, Florida 15 years ago, they have been working tirelessly to improve the lives of children and adults with special needs by using equine-assisted activities and therapy. This spring, the Davenports turned to the nearby Jacksonville Equestrian Center for help with preparing their riders for the Florida State Special Olympics Equestrian Championships.

“Before going to the Special Olympics, we wanted to get the riders and horses familiar with a big facility like the one we would be going to for the competition,” said Rebecca Davenport, the Occupational Therapist and Program Director at Hope Therapy. “At the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, we were able to set up a trail course and expose them to the different environments and things they would see. Being able to practice with a covered arena was also helpful. The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is a beautiful facility.”

The Special Olympics provides sports training and competition opportunities to athletes with intellectual disabilities around the world. When it came time for Hope Therapy riders to compete in the Florida State Special Olympics Equestrian Championships, their training paid off well.

“Our riders collectively earned a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal. We were really excited,” said Davenport. “The whole weekend was wonderful, but the best part was seeing the smiles on the faces of the riders when they held up their medals! They were so excited, just grinning from ear to ear. It was great seeing how happy and proud of themselves they were.”

Hope Therapy is a leading hippotherapy program in Northeast Florida, and is the area’s only Premier Accredited Center of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.). The organization is committed to providing high quality services and excellence in programming, and plans to use the facilities at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center again in the future to provide children and adults with therapeutic riding experiences. Hope Therapy also provides several programs for active duty, disabled, and retired service men and women.

Hippotherapy uses horses as therapy treatment for people with special care needs. The movement of the horse encourages muscle action and can improve balance. Additionally, positive psychological, social, emotional, and behavioral effects can be seen in people who use hippotherapy.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center was thrilled to host Hope Therapy students and instructors as they prepared for the Florida State Special Olympics. The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is home to a state-of-the-art, 123,000 square foot indoor coliseum, multiple outdoor arenas, barns with over 400 stalls, and trails for equestrians to enjoy. The 80-acre facility is also part of a recreational park that features an Olympic size indoor pool, an 18-hole golf course, and regulation softball fields.

Located just off of I-95 in Jacksonville, Florida, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center hosts recreational, sporting, and community events year round. For more information about the facility, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call Penny Gorton at (904) 255-4227. For more information about Hope Therapy, please visit www.hopetherapy.org.

For more information, contact:
Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Penny Gorton 904-255-4227
PGorton@coj.net
13611 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32221

Wild Horses Transformed in Extreme Mustang Makeover at Jacksonville Equestrian Center

Marsha Hartford-Sapp and her Mustang partner Freedom (Photo courtesy of SDPhotography) 

Jacksonville, FL (May 13, 2016) – This past weekend, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center was host to genuine American Mustangs and their trainers as they showcased their newfound partnerships to a packed house. The Extreme Mustang Makeover, which is designed to test both human and horse for their ability to learn quickly and make the most out of a small period of time, was presented by the Mustang Heritage Foundation. Each participating trainer had just 100 days to transform a wild mustang into a star performer that would impress the judges and the crowd. Spectators then had the opportunity to bid on a piece of America’s equine heritage at the end of the competition.

Youth competitors adopted their Mustang partners before the event, and showed off how far they had come together in 100 days. Adult competitors auctioned off their Mustangs at the end of the Extreme Mustang Makeover weekend. The competition included classes such as Handling and Conditioning, Trail, and Freestyle. Adult competitors all vied to be selected to compete in the Top Ten Freestyle Finals that took place directly before the Mustang auction. A first place prize of $25,000 and a custom-made Gist belt buckle was at stake for the winner. Alongside nine other spectacular performances, Marsha Hartford-Sapp and her Mustang partner Freedom brought the crowd to their feet with a bridleless riding exhibition and other impressive acts. Hartford-Sapp and Freedom were named winner of the Extreme Mustang Makeover.

The Extreme Mustang Makeover is a unique event produced by the Mustang Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization. Kyla Hogan, the director of marketing for the Mustang Heritage Foundation, explained, “The Mustang Heritage Foundation’s mission is, with the help of the Bureau of Land Management, to increase the rate of adoption of excess mustangs that are in holding facilities. We had 24 adults and 16 kids competing at the Extreme Mustang Makeover in Jacksonville.” This means 40 more wild Mustangs were transferred from holding facilities to good homes.

Dan Russell, who was onsite representing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), explained, “The Extreme Mustang Makeover events show people that Mustangs are good horses. Mustangs are the horses that the original cowboys rode in the 1800s. There are roughly 50,000 horses on the range right now and an almost equal amount being cared for in holding facilities. They’re taken off the range into holding facilities for different reasons – forest fires, droughts, over-grazed land – and we’re just looking for somebody to give them good homes.”

Taylor McIntosh and Sonora (Photo courtesy of JRPR)
Taylor McIntosh and Sonora (Photo courtesy of JRPR)

Taylor McIntosh, the 2014 Extreme Mustang Makeover champion from just outside of Auburn, Alabama, made it into the Top Ten Freestyle Finals with his assigned Mustang, Sonora, at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center’s competition. McIntosh shares in the Mustang Heritage Foundation’s admiration of the strength of Mustangs’ spirits. “At first I did this to gain exposure, but now that I’m doing this for my third year I can really say it’s all for the love of the Mustang,” McIntosh shared. “Sonora is a smart horse – and that can be both a good and a bad thing – but she’d tried so hard at everything I asked her to learn. I love that about her.” McIntosh and Sonora’s Freestyle performance included McIntosh standing in the saddle, and Sonora lying down.

The youth trainers at the Extreme Mustang Makeover were as excited about the Mustangs as the adults, and also delivered impressive performances. After Ruthann Strickland competed with her adopted Mustang, two-year-old Battle Beau, she explained, “I did this because I wanted a challenge. I’ve never trained a horse before. I really like him, but he can be a handful! I love his personality. He’s a goof and can be very sassy – we’re working on that,” she laughed.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center was thrilled to host the Extreme Mustang Makeover to help bring awareness to the public about the wild Mustangs and Mustang adoption. The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is known as a family-favorite destination for equestrian and recreational events all year long. The 80-acre facility is easily accessible from major highways in Jacksonville, and features an enormous indoor arena, outdoor arenas, and over 400 stalls. There are also miles of riding, hiking, and biking trails accessible from the Jacksonville Equestrian Center.

For more information and to find out about other upcoming events, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call Penny Gorton at (904) 255-4227.

For more information, contact:
Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Penny Gorton 904-255-4227
PGorton@coj.net
13611 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32221

Team Roper Wins a New Dodge Truck at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center

Photo courtesy of SDPhotography.

Jacksonville, FL (May 5, 2016) — For the 11th year, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center proudly hosted the National Team Roping League (NTRL) Truck Roping Competition in Jacksonville, Florida. The fan-favorite event encouraged team ropers from all over the southeastern United States to compete for the chance to win a 2016 Dodge 3500 Dually (four-door edition). The event paid out $150,000 in prizes over the course of three days of competition. In total, five hundred teams entered. Denver Ivester of Clarksville, Georgia with his horse Nova earned the most points and was able to drive the new truck home.

John Johnson, President of JX2 Productions, the company that produces the NTRL Truck Roping competition and multiple other western events, values the centralized location of the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. “It is a good location to draw the southeast and Sarasota and Miami area. It is a great draw for people on the Atlantic seaboard, and now is a great time of year here because it is not so hot.”

Team roping tests the teamwork of two horse and rider combinations as they work in tandem to lasso a steer. At the NTRL Truck Roping competition, the 55 fastest teams out of 500 entries roped to win the new Dodge truck. The final two teams then returned for a third time for a tie-breaking round. Riders could enter up to 20 times each. “We then go through and take each person and, depending on how many times they rode and where they placed, we total up their points. Then the person with the most points is the one who wins the truck,” explained Johnson.

This year, the winner of the truck was Denver Ivester of Clarksville, Georgia. Ivester, with the help of his new mare Nova, competed twenty times in the competition and accumulated enough points to earn the brand new truck. “I just got Nova about four or five weeks ago,” said Ivester. “I have been roping for twenty years, and she is already the best roping horse that I’ve ever had!”

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center was happy to congratulate Ivester on his win, and to host all horses and riders throughout the competition. The facility has developed an outstanding reputation for hosting family-friendly and exciting events all year long, which are open to the public. Events range from team roping to dressage to dog agility competitions and more.

The month of May will continue its excitement at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center this weekend when the Extreme Mustang Makeover comes to town. The Extreme Mustang Makeover tasked participating riders to transform a wild Mustang into a well-trained horse in just 100 days. The competition is designed to test both human and horse for their ability to learn quickly and make the most out of a small period of time.

The competition will take place on Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7. The winner of the Extreme Mustang Makeover will win a $25,000 grand prize and a custom made Gist belt buckle, and all Mustangs will be available for adoption after the event.

To see the excitement yourself or to adopt one of the competing Mustangs, head to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center this weekend. Preliminary classes (all day Friday and on Saturday until late afternoon) are free to watch. Tickets for the Top 10 Freestyle Event on Saturday evening ($16.50) are available here.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is a favorite destination for equestrian and recreational events. The 80-acre facility is easily accessible from major highways in Jacksonville, Florida, and features an enormous indoor arena, outdoor arenas, and over 400 stalls. There are also miles of riding, hiking, and biking trails accessible from the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. For more information and to find out about other upcoming events, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call Penny Gorton at (904) 255-4227.

For more information, contact:
Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Penny Gorton 904-255-4227
PGorton@coj.net
13611 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32221

Tickets Available Now for the Extreme Mustang Makeover at Jacksonville Equestrian Center

Jimbo Albritton and Penney (Photo courtesy of SDPhotography)

Jacksonville, FL (April 25, 2016) — With less than two weeks to go until the start of the Extreme Mustang Makeover at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center on May 6-7, Mustang trainers like Jimbo Albritton of Penney Farms, Florida are preparing for action.

Each trainer participating in the Extreme Mustang Makeover has been tasked with transforming a wild Mustang into a very rideable, outstanding performer in just 100 days. The Extreme Mustang Makeover is designed to test both human and horse for their ability to learn quickly and make the most out of a small period of time.

The competition at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center will begin with an opportunity for spectators to meet the trainers and the horses on Friday morning, before competitors gather in the main arena for show prep. Next, each trainer and Mustang duo will compete in several classes. Friday’s classes will include Handling and Conditioning, Youth Classes, and an Adult Trail Class. On Saturday, coffee and donuts will be provided in the morning before further Mustang exhibitions and award ceremonies.

Spectators can enjoy free admittance to the event on Friday and until 4:45 pm on Saturday. After 4:45, the competition will really get serious. The top 10 Mustang and trainer pairs will be announced, and they will head into the Top 10 Freestyle Finals – where they can strut their stuff and show off what they learned in their own personal style. The Extreme Mustang Makeover Freestyle Finals are known for jaw-dropping performances; past Freestyles have featured riders standing in their saddles, roping, obstacles, and more.

As competitors work to put a few more days of training on their assigned Mustangs, participant Jimbo Albritton feels lucky that he and his Mustang mare, Penney, hit the ground running. Albritton says, “It was the luck of the draw that I was assigned Penney.” Even from the beginning, the sweet-tempered mare seemed to act more like a puppy dog than a fiery Mustang.

But despite Penney’s sweet disposition, she’s had a lot to learn these past couple of months. “Everything is going right and it’s been a dramatic change since the first day,” Albritton commented about Penney’s progress. “She’s a lot more quiet and we’re going places. Her skill level has drastically increased.”

As Albritton prepares for show time, he’s now focused on perfecting those skills. “I really want to refine a couple of things,” he said. “I want to make lead changes more solid. I’d like her to be a touch quieter and a little more solid in her overall performance.”

On the line – for Albritton and everyone competing in the Extreme Mustang Makeover challenge – is a $25,000 award and custom-made Gist belt buckle for the winner.

But even as Albritton vies for the flashy reward, he plans on keeping things simple and sticking to the basics. When asked about his plans if he qualifies for the Top 10 Freestyle Finals, he said, “My main plan is to do simple things great, instead of doing a lot of complicated things not so great. We’re going to stick to a reining pattern – some spins and stops – and see if she’ll lay down for us.”

At the end of the day, whether Penney nails her spins or her stops, Albritton is grateful for the time he’s spent with his lucky little mare and, most importantly, he hopes that his work with Penney leads to her finding her forever home, as all Mustangs will be available for adoption after the event.

To see the excitement of the event yourself or to adopt one of the competing Mustangs, head to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center for the May 6-7 events. Preliminary classes are free to watch. Tickets for the Freestyle event ($15.00) are available here.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is a favorite destination for equestrian and recreational events. The 80-acre facility is easily accessible from major highways in Jacksonville, Florida, and features an enormous indoor arena, outdoor arenas, and over 400 stalls. There are also miles of riding, hiking, and biking trails accessible from the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. For more information and to find out about other upcoming events, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call Penny Gorton at (904) 255-4227.

For more information, contact:
Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Penny Gorton 904-255-4227
PGorton@coj.net
13611 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32221

Wanda Wiggins Inducted into The Dressage Foundation’s Century Club

Wanda Wiggins and Dusine (Photo courtesy of Maria Croft)

Clinches Adult Amateur High Score at Jacksonville Equestrian Center

Jacksonville, FL (April 1, 2016) – Wanda Wiggins just accomplished one of the rarest feats in equestrian competition. With her long-time equine partner Dusine, Wiggins joined The Dressage Foundation’s Century Club – a club of horse and rider pairs whose combined age totals 100 years or more. A true role model for equestrians of all disciplines, Wiggins and Dusine competed with elegance in their Century Ride at the recent Northeast Dressage Association (NFDA) Freestyle Challenge and Warm-up for DOTFC competition at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center in Jacksonville, Florida. In addition to completing their Century Ride, their score of 75.313 percent earned the pair the Adult Amateur High Point award at the show.

In her 71 years, Wiggins has lived a full life for which she had three goals: to become a flight attendant, to meet her prince charming, and to own a horse. This year, she celebrated her 50-year wedding anniversary with her prince charming, whom she met while working as a flight attendant. Her prince charming had then bought her a horse.

It seems as though Dusine was destined to become Wiggins’ horse. “It was such a miraculous thing that I even got her,” explains Wiggins. Wiggins had been on a business trip to New Orleans when she discovered Dusine. “We fell in love immediately.” After making an offer to purchase Dusine, Wiggins learned that another person had already entered into a contract for the beautiful mare, who Wiggins describes as her “own Black Beauty.” Thankfully for Wiggins, the other buyer wasn’t able to complete the purchase. That was nineteen years ago. The rest is history – a beautiful story of horse-and-rider bonding, dressage shows, and a happy ending – though reaching this happy ending hasn’t been easy.

A three-time cancer survivor, Wiggins has relied on the now 29-year-old Dusine through each recovery experience. Wiggins spoke of the bond she developed with Dusine during those trying times, saying, “It is a motivation to keep going when you have these awesome animals that expect you to be there and expect you to take care of them.” And so Wiggins has been there every day for Dusine, despite all odds.

As Wiggins’ and Dusine’s ages now total 100, they embarked on the journey toward their Century Ride at the Northeast Florida Dressage Association’s recent show at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. To join the Century Club, a horse and rider must perform a dressage test of any level in front of judges. The rider must first submit an application to The Dressage Foundation, and The Dressage Foundation will send a ribbon to be presented to the horse and rider during their Century Ride. An award bearing the pair’s names is then presented to the Century Club Team to forever immortalize the newest Century Club duo.

Wanda with her husband Dennis. Photo: Teri Rehkopf/HorsesintheSouth.com
Wanda with her husband Dennis. Photo: Teri Rehkopf/HorsesintheSouth.com

Unfortunately, in the days before Wiggins and Dusine arrived at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center for their Century Ride, Dusine began showing real signs of feeling her age. Wiggins was unsure if they would be able to compete, but Dusine began feeling better just in time. Right before Wiggins and Dusine entered the show ring, the president of the North Florida Dressage Association read one of Wiggins’ favorite Bible scriptures, Isaiah 30:15, aloud. “When she read that, I felt such a calm and a peace,” says Wiggins. “I was praying that we would mount up on eagles’ wings and float through the test. I have to tell you, that is what we did. Dusine performed wonderfully – she felt like my horse from ten years ago.” When the test finished, Wiggins could tell her partner shared her pride in their combined accomplishment.

To commemorate the momentous occasion, the North Florida Dressage Association presented Wiggins with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and Dusine with a lovely neck ribbon. “They went out of their way to make that a special time,” says Wiggins.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center was happy to host Wiggins’ momentous Century Ride in its spacious indoor stadium. The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is a multi-use facility that hosts events such as hunter/jumper shows, barrel races, dressage shows, horsemanship clinics, and more. Even for non-equestrians, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center makes sure to keep something on the calendar for everyone, with canine shows, concerts, and community events regularly taking place. For more information, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call Penny Gorton at (904) 255-4227.

For more information, contact:
Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Penny Gorton 904-255-4227
PGorton@coj.net
13611 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32221