Edited Press Release
Question: Why are Aaron Vale, one of America’s top winning Grand Prix riders, and Don Stewart, legendary hunter trainer, spending time at Tomorrow’s Equestrian in Ocala?
Answer: Aaron Vale is schooling Kent Guinn, the Mayor of Ocala and Don Stewart is training Lori Conrad , member of the Marion County School Board, in preparation for The Black Stallion Challenge Cup: A Salute to Literacy, to be held at The World Equestrian Center Monday, January 30th at 6pm.
Both the Mayor and Conrad are non-riders, but both, under the expert guidance of Vale and Stewart, have taken to riding and are looking pretty confident in the saddle after just a few lessons. The competition which includes all five members of the Marion County School Board, the Superintendent of Schools, Dr Diane Gullett, the Mayor of Ocala, Kent Guinn, and Sheriff Billy Woods will all take to the saddle to compete in the Black Stallion Challenge Cup.
All but one of these Marion County officials are non-riders…or at least they were when lessons began with top trainers in the equestrian industry such as Karen O’Connor, John Rannenberg, Lauren Barwick, Jacinto Vasquez, Abby Fuller and Pat Parelli. Who will capture the coveted Black Stallion Challenge Cup? Not sure, but The Mayor intends on bringing the trophy back to City Hall and John Rannenberg and Dr Gullett has stated they are, “in it to win it.”
The event is designed to highlight The Black Stallion Reading Project, now in all 31 elementary schools in Marion County, Florida. In the program championed by The Ocala Horse Alliance, all 4th grade students receive a copy of The Black Stallion book to keep. During three weeks of in-classroom instruction, students read the book and have lessons on language arts, math and geography related to the Black Stallion book. The curriculum is approved by the Florida Department of Education and teaches skills identified for 4th grade. Horses are great motivators and relatable to all ages. Each elementary school is paired with an equestrian farm partner who will add more information on horses, horse careers and answer students’ questions.
The Ocala Horse Alliance has stated that this community comes together for our students. “ These are our children, this is our community, and this is the future of the horse industry in Marion County. “
The Black Stallion Challenge Cup; A Salute to Literacy
January 30th at 6 PM ET
World Equestrian Center, Arena One.
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