AVON PARK — Riders of all ages competed in the Special STARS Equestrian event on May 19 at Heartland Horses & Equine Activities in Avon Park.
Astyn Welch, 5, was the youngest rider in the event and he won first place in the children’s division. This was his first year to compete in equestrian so volunteers assisted in leading the horse while Welch gave the commands.
“Whoa Shorty!” Welch shouted firmly as he pulled on the reins to get his horse to stop in the square in the arena. As he waited for a few seconds, he commanded his horse to “Walk on!” and he finished his course.
“I did it!” Welch claimed as he climbed down off the saddle. Although it seemed like a small feat for some, it was a huge accomplishment for this pint-size cowboy who was at first very intimidated by this huge four-legged animal two weeks ago in practice.
“I’m going to do it by myself next year,” Welch claimed.
There were two different divisions of children competing in the horse show. One class was for those needing assistance and another class was for the more advance riders who could lead the horse independently.
Another star in the show was 9-year-old C.J. McCall-Chandler who took first place in her division. She competed independently in her division with no volunteers assisting her. Her riding coach Victor McNeil gave her last minute pointers as she focused on the arena.
Other kids competing were Eva Reichenbach, Kyle Belcourt, Sapphire Denz, Gadge Denz, Samara Chandler and Andrew Moses.
Amber Fallo of Lake Placid was a shining star in the adult division winning first place. She also presented the American flag during the opening ceremony with Kyle Belcourt who presented the state flag.
Other adults competing were Sara Canali, Bill Wheeler, Bobby Paradise, Rose Tilley, Jack Garnett., Bethany Biller, Angie Luft, Nicole Lewis, Cheryl Moore and Elizabeth Jordon.
Trophies were presented to all the winners and they enjoyed a cookout after the show.