The evening began with wine, beer, and a delicious and extensive selection of hot and cold
hors d'oeuvres. Babsi set the tone for the occasion with an earnest, well-documented description of the paradox facing the Para Equestrian discipline today. Briefly stated, the United States Olympic Committee and the competitive Equestrian organizations have cut off all funding for Para Equestrians because, despite very creditable performances, they have not produced medal-winning results. Para Equestrian competition at home and abroad is expensive but necessary in order to compete for medals so the riders need extensive private support. She also hoped to raise awareness of the Para Equestrian competition as parallel to able-bodied Dressage, not to therapeutic riding or the Special Olympics.
Babsi's inspiring and enthusiastic introduction set the stage for video presentations highlighting Rebecca and Margaret's equine experience and involvement in the Para program. The videos served as a very intimate but succinct introduction to two remarkable women. After the videos, Rachel Gross, Assistant Trainer at Blue Hill Farm, helped Rebecca and Margaret answer questions in a brief "Meet and Greet" session.
The overarching intent of the organizers was to establish an on-going community of both financial and emotional support, hopefully creating a wave of energy and enthusiasm to carry these riders to the World Equestrian Games in Normandy and beyond!
As a delightful post script and just one example, among many, of the enthusiasm Babsi and Martha envisioned, Sharon Clark and Liz Collard of Rigbie Farm in Darlington, MD were able to organize shipping the Para horses to Florida courtesy of D.J. Johnson Horse Transport!
Many thanks for their remarkable generosity, to the Clarks and Thomases and the community of local businesses and horsemen who are making this project an overwhelming success!