Equestrian of the Year 2010 - Northern Exposure

Equestrian of the Year winners Ariel Matisse and Nancy Later held their second annual Dressage and Reining fundraiser to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, September 11th 2010, at Oak Hill Farm in Pepperell, MA. The Equestrian of the Year Competition is a project that was started several years ago by Mary Ann Grant in Wellington, Florida. Mary Ann's inspiration for the event came from the courage that she saw in her fellow cancer patients during her battle with Lymphoma years ago. This competition encourages horse enthusiasts to raise donations for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. At the end of the designated time period the Equestrian that raises the most money will be the Equestrian of the Year. Mary Ann's dream was to have the fundraising spread to different parts of the country after being launched in Wellington, FL. The Dressage and Reining Event is the first of what they hope to be many more. The Equestrian of the Year Campaign is planning two events in Florida. In January there will be a Prix Caprilli Competition at the Players Club in Wellington, FL. The annual cocktail party will be held at Grant Farm on February 10, 2011, also in Wellington, FL, where the Equestrian of the Year will be announced.

This year the Dressage and Reining Fundraiser had demonstrations in driving by Stacey Ux and Linda Roth of All in Stride, Hollis, MA. Together with Eileen Halloran commentating, Stacey and Linda showed off their exquisitely turned-out horses going through typical driving maneuvers, including cones and transitions.

The dressage was well represented with a fantastic FEI pony freestyle by Hope Cooper, and a beautiful Grand Prix freestyle by Jane Karol both of whom are from Bear Spot Farm in Concord, MA. In addition Ariel Matisse and Mary Lauritsen, both from Harvard, MA, performed a touching Pas de Deux tribute to 9-11 at the Prix St. Georges level.

The crowd was introduced to reining with the help of Chris Allen and Jayne Mount, while Michelle Osbourne explained the maneuvers and the judging. Both horses were exciting to watch and having Michelle explain what to look for made it a learning experience as well.

The demonstrations ended with a fun "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" Pas de Deux with Jayne Mount and Nancy Later dueling it out with all the spectacular movements in both sports. After quite a show, they called it a draw and everyone agreed that both sports have a lot to offer the spectators!

This event was sponsored by Cunningham and Cunningham Livestock Insurance of Harriman NY, Old Frog Pond Farm of Harvard MA, and MLS Sheet Metal of Nashua NH. Without these sponsors this Fundraiser would not be possible. There was free food donated by Mark and Linda Spengler of Oak Hill Farm, Fihlo's Cucina, The Groton Market, Acu-4-Life Acupuncture, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Ariel Matisse, and Nancy Later.

There was also a fantastic silent auction, face painting, pony rides for the children, and a crafts table sponsored by Jane Batley, where party-goers were encouraged to write notes and make gifts for the children currently undergoing cancer treatment.

Up to this date Ariel and Nancy have already raised close to $17,000 for this year's campaign. Please donate by making a check, payable to LLS and mailing it to Nancy Later, 32 Yorktown Rd. West Boylston, MA 01583. For information about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, go to www.leukemia-lymphoma.org or call 1-888-478-8550.

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