Will jump for food

Will jump for food

Ridge Riders 4-H Group puts on horse shows to help feed local kids

On May 17, Ridge Point Stables, located on Firetower Road near Lake Hatchineha, hosted the second Ridge Riders 4-H Charity Horse Show.  The proceeds of the horse show went to kidsPACK of Polk County.

Last year, the leaders of the Ridge Riders 4-H Group, Kathy Daniel, Jody Grant and Meredith Gallagher, came up with the idea of running a charity horse show.  The group chose to present and run these shows to help feed the kids of Polk County.  Their first attempt was October 26, 2013 and they successfully raised $1,375 for their cause.

The use of the facility was donated by Ridge Point Stables and the 4-H group requested donations to cover the cost of putting on the show.  Everything collected before and during the show (except for the cost of a judge, ribbons, awards, and food) went back to kidsPACK.  As a result of sponsor donations and competitors, the second event netted over $3,000 for kidsPACK!

Twenty-six horse and rider combinations competed in 18 classes, starting with a Leadline class and culminating with a Speed Jumper class.  Marylu Gallagher served as judge and announcer, Emily Everett performed paddock master duties, and several kids from Lakeland Christian High School Equestrian Club and Ridge Point staff served as jump crew.

Pre-show sponsors included Surgicare of Brandon; Friends of Whiz Bang; Friends of Bach; Twisted Arts, LLC; First Fleet/Shelnik Transport; Summerlin Fence, Feed and Garden Center of Davenport; Lake Wales Car Wash; Linda Stetler; Jim Staiano; Curlew Construction; Sam Lovering; Polk County Commissioner Justin Troller; Cypress Gardens Walmart; Vinnie’s Smoking Grill; Jennings Resort; Southern Roots Salon; and Carlton’s Music.

While the horse show continued near the stables, several of the dads and non-riders competed in a fishing tournament on one of the small lakes on the property.  Cane poles and casting rods with various baits spread out among the steep banks of the Horse Shoe Pond, but the fish were not cooperating.  Instead, the contestants were allowed a final chance as they “fished” for a lucky number out of hat.  Sam Grant drew the lucky number and was awarded a $50 gift certificate, donated by Cypress Gardens Walmart.

During lunch anyone who hadn’t brought a picnic found freshly grilled hamburgers and hotdogs being served for any donation.  Everyone took time to cool off in the shade of the barn aisle and enjoy an ice cold drink of their choosing with their lunch.  After an hour break, the first class of the afternoon began and the classes moved along smoothly thanks to all the volunteer help.

The final event of the day was an added feature to the event: the Horseless Horse Show, which was inspired by a favorite activity of all children who ride and jump ponies.  Participants pretend to be half pony and half rider and jump a designated course of eight jumps on foot.  Before the Horseless Horse Show began, Mr. Tony Staiano challenged anyone over 25 years old to compete.  He announced he would personally donate $10 for every participant, and 11 adults accepted the challenge.  April Dorta-Duque served as judge for the Horseless Horse Show with assistance from Marylu Gallagher.  The first class was a hunter class with style to count.  First place in the Adult Hunter Style Class went to Heather Wilson.  The Junior Hunter Class was won by Hanna Quinn.  The Pairs Hunter Class was won by Kathy Daniel and Storey Quinn.  The next class was a twisty turning jumper course with speed the determining factor.  Olivia St. John was the winner with a blistering time.  The Horseless Horse Show concluded with a High Jump Class with 20 entries.  Each pretend horse and rider jumped one fence starting at a height of 18 inches.  After each round, the jump was raised three inches.  If a competitor had a knock down, they were eliminated.  The High Jump winner was Tony Staiano, who cleared 3’9” with room to spare.

Dinner was prepared by Chef Mike Gallagher.  His smoked chicken, sausage and ribs was accompanied by several covered dishes including fresh picked Florida peaches and blueberries and topped off with graduation cake for our graduating senior, and Ridge Rider 4-H President, Miss Abby Grant.

When the Ridge Riders 4-H leaders came up with this project, they didn’t realize the impact it could have on the club.  Not only did the members organize and run a horse show, but their eyes were opened to a charity that is helping feed hungry kids every day within their own county.  The Ridge Riders 4-H group and the Ridge Point Stables “family” look forward to watching the horse show grow, with the benefit of helping out charitable causes.

Everyone agreed that the event was a great way to spend their Saturday.  The announcement of the $3,000+ donation was received with a cheer from everyone who was still enjoying dinner and fellowship.  As people departed for their homes, their thoughts were on the fun events of the day and the Polk county kids that would receive their food filled backpacks because of what was accomplished.  Thanks to Ridge Point Stables, Ridge Riders 4-H, and all our sponsors for making this show and the next one possible.

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