Barbara Borg and Quinn, Nick Skelton, Laura Kraut and Mary K Schaughnessy and Java. Photo by Sue Weakley.
Wellington, FL – March 9, 2017 – Barbara Borg and Mary K. Shaughnessy looked like they were having the time of their lives. They were all smiles as Olympic gold medalist Laura Kraut led them through a series of exercises including flat work, ground poles and jumps. But more important, the three equestrians were doing it for a good cause: The Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center located in Loxahatchee, Florida.
Kraut and seven-time Olympic athlete Nick Skelton offered up a clinic, including a barn tour and lunch, as a fundraiser for the 30th Annual Vinceremos Benefit Dinner and Auction in February. As the bidding heated up during the live auction, Kraut and Skelton graciously offered TWO clinics and Borg and Shaughnessy were the winning bidders for one day while Angi Holtgers won the other day, netting $40,000 in donations for the two clinics to the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center. Vinceremos serves children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities in Palm Beach County through unique equine partnerships and Borg and Shaughnessy are fans of the non-profit.
“Mary K. and I are good friends and we did this three years ago,” Borg said. “We were at the benefit and it was available again and we looked at each other and said, ‘Can we do it again?’ I love Vinceremos and they do so many wonderful things. What better way to contribute to it? I just had a tour of Vinceremos last week, so this was perfect.”
She and her 10-year-old Brandenburg gelding Quinn took the jumps in stride in the South Florida humidity. “It was fabulous and so much fun,” she said.
“It was great,” Shaughnessy echoed. “Working with horses is a benefit for children and adults and this combines everything: caring about people and caring about horses.” She loves that the charity is local, allowing visits and volunteering opportunities. She and Borg used to ride together until they branched off into different disciplines but they have remained friends. Borg is competing in the hunter ring while Shaughnessy concentrates on flatwork and jumping exercises on her Hanoverian, Java.
“I was lucky enough to have been in a clinic with these two a few years ago,” Kraut said, laughing that she counts on them as her faithful buyers who won’t leave her standing on a stage at a charity auction without “purchasing” her. “It was really fun. Both of them are on different horses this time and they’re both wonderful riders. They’ve really got great eyes and they see the distances well. We just tried to work on some of the fine points of strength and concentration.”
In fact, Kraut schooled both riders on getting more energy out of their horses. “One of the hardest things to learn in riding is getting a reaction,” she said. She also had them work on asking for accuracy and establishing straightness. “A very important thing is to feel the horse is straight before you ask him to move laterally. In hunters, a correct straight approach is everything. If your horse is crooked or off balance, you also have a better chance of getting a rub.”
Kraut was as equally enthusiastic about helping Vinceremos as she was the riders. “It’s an honor to get to do something for such a great cause,” she said. “It’s the least we can do.”
Susan Guinan, Director of Development for Vinceremos, was on hand to watch the clinic. “I’m thrilled that Laura and Nick and so many are willing to support the efforts we make at Vinceremos, because it absolutely does enrich the lives of all those children and all those adults. For these kids and adults, holding the rein translates into holding a spoon or a crayon. It makes a difference in their everyday lives.”
For information about how you can help, call (561) 792-9900 or email Vinceremos at email@example.com.