Lauren Fisher for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
The USET Foundation Holiday Fundraiser, presented by SUCCEED® and Wellington Classic Dressage, was a great success as spectators had the opportunity to experience the one-of-a-kind equestrian event featuring performances, exhibitions and team competitions with Olympians and many top equestrian stars. A benefit for the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation, the fundraiser was held at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, on December 11 and 12, 2009.
Through generous donations, silent and live auctions, and ticket purchases the event raised $20,853 to help support the USET Foundation’s high performance programs. The USET Foundation is preparing to send teams to the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Kentucky next fall, and will help provide funding for the competition, training, coaching and travel of America’s elite horses and riders in partnership with the United States Equestrian Federation. The money raised from the holiday fundraiser will help support this country’s high performance programs.
“We are so grateful to Lyndsey White, John Flanagan and Noreen O’Sullivan for organizing this fabulous holiday event to benefit our U.S. equestrian teams,” said Bonnie B. Jenkins, Executive Director of the USET Foundation. “It was lots of fun for everyone involved and a great way to get in the holiday spirit!”
The USET Foundation Holiday Fundraiser festivities got underway with a Bridleless Musical Exhibition performed by Lynn Palm and her famous horse Rugged Painted Lark followed by an exciting demonstration by German vaulting champion Kai Vorberg. Next on the program was the Pony Club Mounted Games with Gina Miles and Hawley Bennett’s team that included members of the Ocala and Alligator Creek Pony Clubs taking home the coveted USET Fundraiser Mounted Games Trophy. Cathy Wieschhoff, Kate Levy, Samantha St. Jacques and Jeanne Lambrecht also participated and will be aiming to steal the trophy next year. Karen O’Connor and Gamal Awad officiated.
The games were followed by a dressage Pas de Deux featuring Monty Roberts (the man who listens to horses) and Courtney King Dye (2008 Dressage Olympian); a Freestyle Dressage to Music presentation by Pierre St. Jacques riding Lucky Tiger; a showcase of reining and Join-up from the saddle featuring Monty Roberts; dressage Commentary by Rolex World Cup Dressage winner and 2008 Olympian Steffen Peters, featuring demonstration riders Kim Gentry and Stephan Kiesewetter; a book signing by renowned bestselling suspense author Tami Hoag; a Small World Showcase featuring miniature horses and Shetland ponies; “Finding the Courage Within” presented by Jeanne Lambrecht; a showjumping jump-off featuring Kate Levy and 2008 Olympian Samantha St. Jacques, that saw Kate Levy take home a bottle of champagne for her efforts; and a Grand Finale featuring four-in-hand champion Chester Weber driving the surprise celebrity equestrian Santa’s, David O’Connor (Friday evening) and Pierre St. Jacques (Saturday evening). Chris Stafford was the emcee for the fundraiser.
Along with the exciting equestrian performances, the Holiday Gala featured a catered VIP dinner and bar along with a fundraising auction with many one-of-a-kind high dollar items. Live auction items included a custom made saddle by Richard Castelow (former Master Saddler to Queen Elizabeth); bridles by Schleese Saddlery; a Day of Training with Chester Weber; a week of Dressage training in Germany with Stephan Kiesewetter, and a Monty Roberts goodie bag. The Jim Brandon Equestrian Center also hosted a special shopping village with many unique vendors and products. VIP’s in attendance included: Mason Phelps President of Phelps Media Group, Olympic Eventer Darren Chiacchia, Bruce Duchossois, USDF President George Williams, Mary Phelps, Margaret Duprey and the President of the International Polo Club John Wash. The participating riders all had a wonderful time and remarked that the event was unique in bringing so many top competitors in various disciplines together.
The USET Foundation will continue to raise money to support the teams for the 2010 WEG by hosting a World Equestrian Games benefit this February. Celebrating the United State’s Equestrian Team’s “Road to Kentucky”, the benefit will be held on Friday, February 5, 2010, beginning at 7:00 p.m. The evening will feature cocktails, dinner, and a live auction at the International Polo Club in Wellington, FL. For more information, please visit www.uset.org.
For further information on the USET Foundation Holiday Fundraiser, please visit the fundraiser website www.succeedevent.com for details.