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City Slickers Youths to Compete at The 2003 Winter Equestrian Festival

Wellington, Florida – January 13, 2003 -- The combination of children from the rough and tough, inner cities of Connecticut competing at the most prestigious horse show venue in the United States sounds like the stuff of a Hollywood movie. But that’s what’s going to happen when seven youngsters and five horses from the City Slickers Equestrian Program arrive at The 2003 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington for the month of February.

City Slickers is a non-profit organization which provides inner- city children in Connecticut, ages 11 to 17, with year-round horse- and farm-related experiences. Careers within the horse industry are offered for the older participants. According to Ruth Fried, director of City Slickers, many of these children would be “dropping out of school, having babies, doing drugs and joining gangs” if it were not for this program. City Slickers attempts to take these children out of a world mired in hopelessness by showing them the horse world, an environment rich in love, caring and personal responsibility.

Children become eligible to join City Slickers in the sixth grade. Selection is based upon an essay written by each child, parental permission and the number of openings. Once a child begins with the program, he or she usually remains for three or four years.

In addition to teaching how to ride and take care of horses, City Slickers builds upon academics taught in the classroom. There are regular, required essay assignments and math exercises, such as determining the perimeter of a riding ring. The participants also develop interpersonal and teamwork skills and learn anger management.

Through the generosity of Eugene R. Mische, President of Stadium Jumping, Inc., The Festival’s producer, the five City Slicker horses will be provided with complimentary stabling, feed, hay and bedding, with the seven riders receiving free entry to any of the competition classes. But the elbow grease will be provided by the City Slickers riders themselves -- they will be responsible for the mucking, feeding, riding and grooming. Jet Blue will furnish the airline transportation.

The City Slickers horses and riders will be seen competing in the junior jumper, hunter and equitation classes against some of the top junior horses and riders in the U. S. Their participation will not only enhance the level of performance, but will enrich and elevate the overall spirit of The Festival.


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