By Holly Rosenau, Equestrian Center Manager
On Saturday, February 11, Montverde Academy held its 2023 Spring Equestrian Showcase. We first celebrated our seniors, Victoria Vivaldi and Mariella Malabad, who entered the program shortly after Coach Ashley and I came into the picture. They have spent countless hours at the barn, devoting their time to a variety of horses and activities.
Victoria Vivaldi has been riding for 14 years and has been in our program for four years. She rode Caramel Macchiato, aka “Macho,” and he is her favorite horse in the barn. Victoria’s favorite activity to do with the horses is to give them bubble baths. She has competed successfully up to one meter. Victoria hopes to attend the University of Florida in the fall to study equine science, and her goal is to become a professional rider and reach the Grand Prix Level. Victoria is currently one of our team captains and has been a great asset to our program.
Our other senior, Mariella Malabad, has been riding for 12 years and has been in our program for four years. She rode Sugarbrook Copper Penny, aka “Chloe.” Ella’s favorite activity is to take the horses on trail rides. She has successfully competed up to 2’6” with hopes to compete the 2’9” before graduation. She was also a 2’ Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion in both the Open and Child Divisions at the World Equestrian Center in 2022. Ella is planning on attending Florida Atlantic University in the fall to study large animal veterinary care. Ella is currently our ACL representative for the school and has played an active role in bringing our teams together and bringing awareness of our sport across campus.
2’6” Jumpers Ride
Jana Huet rode her horse Gasparilla Captain, aka “Captain.” Jana is the 10th grade and has been riding at MVA for 5 years, with another 5 years of experience before that. Captain was Jana’s first horse, but this year she had the incredible opportunity to also take on another younger horse named Lord with whom she has goals of showing one meter later this semester. Her favorite MVA horse is Cody – our most senior, well-loved lesson horse.
The second rider was Naomi Hajjar who rode Mickey So Fine, aka “Mickey.” Naomi has come to us from Ukraine and Canada and has been riding for 10 years. Her favorite horse in the barn is Mickey. While she is currently moving up to compete in the 2’3” division, her next goal is to move into the 2’6” heights. Naomi has successfully shown Bianca and Mickey this year and has proven to be a very moldable rider. She will be joining us for the first time at the World Equestrian Center in March and will be competing in the 2’3” division.
Next was Kat Fontana riding Faline. Kat has been riding Faline for one month. Faline is a four-year-old mustang, meaning she used to live in the wild. Kat has done a fantastic job helping us to teach Faline how to jump and is looking forward to their first show together in just two weeks. Kat is in 8th grade and has only been riding for two and a half years. Kat’s goals for this year are to compete in the 2’3” division and continue to train Faline. Her favorite activities are jumping and galloping up the hills in our side field. Kat has accomplished showing successfully at the World Equestrian Center and at Grand Oaks in the 2’ divisions.
Kayla Gherghel rode her personal horse Tellestial, aka “Telly.” Kayla and Telly are still very new to each other and have been working hard to form their bond and increase their training level. Kayla is looking forward to their first show together at the Tampa Fairgrounds in March. Kayla is in 8th grade and has been riding for four years, two and half of those years being in our program. Her favorite activity is to give her horse baths and groom him. Kayla has shown successfully on MVA horses at the 2’ divisions at the World Equestrian Center and Tampa Fairgrounds.
Ashlyn Cunningham, who rode Mickey, is in 10th grade and has been riding for about 6 years. Her favorite horse in the barn is Tolly, and her goals are to be able to ride Dressage with him and show the intro level tests 1 and 2 at a competition. Ashlyn’s favorite horse activity is taking trail rides around Montverde. Ashlyn has successfully shown in dressage at the Florida Horse Park, as well as jumpers at the World Equestrian Center and Tampa Fairgrounds.
Arena Drag and Reset to 2’3”
Showing first for our 2’3” jumpers was Kara Brauman riding Whoopsie Daisy, aka “Daisy.” Kara has been riding for four years, three of those years being with MVA. Her favorite horse in the barn is Daisy, and they love to go on trail rides together. Most recently, Kara was the 2’ Open Division Reserve Grand Champion at the World Equestrian Center. Another large accomplishment this year was being able to jump a meter fence on Kablis. Her next goal for her riding career is to move up to compete in the 2’6” division on Daisy. Kara will also be competing in two weeks on Daisy in the 2’3” division.
Taylor Hill rode Tango who is a relatively new horse to our program. Taylor has been assisting us with his training this semester and hopes to compete with him in the 2’3” jumpers at the Tampa Fairgrounds in March. Taylor has been riding for just three and a half years and is new to our program as of this school year. Her favorite horse in the barn right now is Tango. Taylor’s goals are to continue to improve her equitation and move up in height as time and skill allow. Taylor has shown successfully in Wellington and the Tampa fairgrounds.
Kinsley Sayer rode her personal horse Annie Oakley, aka “Oakley.” Kinsley is also riding a mustang that lived in the wild for two years and has found her way to civilization and lives a very plush life with us. Kinsley is in 6th grade and has been riding for just two years, both years having been in our program. Kinsley’s current riding goals are to master competing in the 2’3” height. Kinsley loves jumps and looks forward to it every week. Kinsley has successfully shown this year at the World Equestrian Center and Grand Oaks. She is looking forward to another week at the World Equestrian Center in March.
Isabella Liberti rode her personal horse Raya. Bella has been riding for four years and has been in our program for three years. She has been successfully competing in the 2’ and 2’3” divisions this year. Her goal is to move into the 2’3” divisions and master that height. Her favorite things to do with her horse are hacking around the property and jumping. Bella has shown at the World Equestrian Center and Tampa Fairgrounds and is looking forward to competing at the World Equestrian Center again in March.
Rowan Bayer rode DJ Frosty, aka “Frosty.” Rowan has helped us train Frosty to be a jumping pony, and she has done a great job with that challenge. Rowan is in 7th grade and has been riding for four years, all of which have been at Montverde Academy. Rowan started competing with us two years ago. Her current goal is to continue to train Frosty to have confident rounds and clear the 2’3” height. Her favorite pastime at the barn is cuddling with Frosty.
Two New Riders
Our two newest team riders have not competed yet but are both looking forward to their first competition in just two weeks!
Olivia Coughenour is our youngest team rider and is currently in 4th grade. Olivia is riding Ella Enchanted, aka “Ella.” Olivia has been riding for three years. She started riding with us when she was in 3rd grade. Her favorite horse at the MVA barn is Ella. Her favorite activity to do with the horses is to practice her jumping skills, and her future goal is to win a first-place ribbon at a competition.
Sabrina Kelly rode Code of Silence, aka “Cody.” Sabrina has been riding for just two years, one of which has been at MVA. Sabrina has been preparing all fall to be able to compete with us this semester. Sabrina’s favorite horse is Mickey, and she loves practicing her jumping skills. Sabrina has successfully jumped a 2’3” jump in the past and is looking forward to the day she is able to successfully jump one meter.
We would like to thank all of our riders for joining us in this adventure this year. You have all worked so hard and knowing you all, you may not ever stop!