Johnatha Gorin is approaching her 70th birthday as she competes at the Winter Equestrian Festival and she’s not the only member of her generation still in the saddle. “They’re all lovely ladies,” she said of her fellow competitors in the crossrail classes. “We laugh and talk. We’re very encouraging of each other.”
The south ring mixes Baby Boomers with Generation Alpa as they compete in equitation and crossrails, short stirrups, and rusty stirrups – that both say what they are on the tin. It is a phenomenon that you might not expect at the USA’s showcase horse show, but it is a welcome addition to the grounds since it was launched in 2018.
“The south ring is a safe environment for all of us,” said Karen Lucian, a lady of a certain age. “It’s apart from the main show and they make sure that the warm-up ring is not used by other riders. That’s why I like coming to WEF. They don’t have a setup like this at other shows [in the US].”
Karen has been off for a year due to injury, but is looking for a horse to start up again: “As soon as I get a horse, I will be back competing.”
Karen’s commitment to the sport of riding is illustrated by her weekly commute from California to Florida in order to compete. “I usually take a red-eye after work on Wednesday,” said Karen, who has had a longstanding career as a financial advisor in Newport Beach.
Johnatha sat out for 12-and-a-half years, before taking up the reins again just over three years ago. “My daughter was showing and it was more important for her to have all the horses,” she explained.
Now that she’s back showing, Johnatha is partnered with a well-known, nationally successful hunter who she acquired in June, Touchdown – who was on the cover of the Hampton Classic last year.
“We’re doing cross rails, and we’re very happy,” she said. “I’ve shown four times. I won some ribbons, second-week reserve, eighth-week champion. It was good.”
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