Discover Dressage Joins COTA to Advance Dressage while Fighting Breast Cancer

When Challenge of the Americas (COTA) organizer Mary Ross approached Kim Van Kampen, the founder of Discover Dressage, to join in COTA’s fight against breast cancer, Van Kampen thought it was a great idea.

The March 9 Challenge of the Americas features teams of top international dressage riders competing in Grand Prix freestyle quadrilles to benefit breast cancer research, and Discover Dressage is a non-profit organization with the mission to inspire American youth to discover the sport of dressage and support healthy competition.

“When Mary talked to me about ideas for the Challenge, I told her I had a quadrille ready to go,” said Van Kampen, owner of Hampton Green Farm, known for the breeding and promotion of the PRE horse. “For USPRE week, held recently in Wellington, Florida, the girls put together a quadrille on four great geldings and had a lot of fun. I thought adding them to the exhibition line-up before the competition would be an excellent way to support the Challenge. Our all-female musical quadrille made up of talented young women will help create awareness among young people about breast cancer.”

Team members include Kerrigan Gluch, Sarah Roda, Elena Schiefele and Sophia Schults.

The team of Kerrigan Gluch, Sarah Roda, Elena Schiefele and Sophia Schults will ride their own PRE horses or those owned by Hampton Green Farm. They are coached by Maria Lithander.

“It’s very different to ride as a team and it presents unique challenges, but it’s also really fun and rewarding,” Elena Schiefele said. “Since one in eight women develops breast cancer, I think breast cancer research is important not only to those whose lives will be saved, but also to their families and everyone else affected by it.”

Team member Sophia Schults agreed. “Having the opportunity to participate in such an amazing event is unreal and being able to help support such a great cause is a huge honor. The support that both the sport of dressage as well as breast cancer research gains from this event makes a huge difference and I feel very lucky to be a part of both causes.”

Rider Kerrigan Gluch said they had fun creating an entertaining routine and she’s excited to perform it for a worthy cause. “This is my first time being involved with something like the Challenge, so I am very eager to see how it goes. This sport is mostly geared towards competition, so I think it’s great to associate it with breast cancer research. I think good riding, entertaining music, great people – all for a good cause, makes for an awesome night.”

Team Winged Foot Poised to Fly High for the 2018 Challenge of the Americas

Ruth Hogan Poulsen directs riders Ilse Schwarz and Bridget Hay like a conductor directing a symphony during a Team Winged Foot practice.

Team Winged Foot, formerly known as Team International in The Challenge of the Americas (COTA), has a new name thanks to its generous sponsor, but it remains populated by Grand Prix dressage riders from around the globe.

The Challenge of the Americas features five teams of top riders competing in Grand Prix quadrilles set to music, all to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through Play for P.I.N.K. The 2018 COTA will be held Friday, March 9 in the International Arena at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival show grounds in Wellington, Florida.

Team members include Marco Bernal, who hails from Colombia, Raúl Corchuelo, also from Colombia, Susanne Hamilton, a U.S. citizen originally from Germany, Bridget Hay from the United States, Yvonne Losos de Muñiz, who grew up in Kenya and rides for the Dominican Republic, and Ilsa Schwarz from Australia.

Raúl Corchuelo and Marco Bernal practicing the pattern.

Sponsored by Kathleen and John Dunagan of Winged Foot Enterprises, the team is under the direction of coach, choreographer and musical freestyle creator Ruth Hogan Poulsen.

“I am so pleased to have Kathleen and John Dunagan and their Winged Foot Enterprises sponsoring our very international team,” Hogan Poulsen said. “The time and support that everyone has shown for such an important cause proves that people from all walks of life and countries can work together to accomplish great things.”

The Dunagans didn’t hesitate when asked to sponsor the team.

“The combination of supporting such a magnificent event that also benefits a cause about which we are passionate made the decision for us,” Kathleen Dunagan said.

The weekly practices by the dedicated team of Grand prix dressage riders results in an outcome like this blast from the past at a previous Challenge of the Americas. Photo by Meg McGuire.

The couple met Hogan Poulsen in 2010, the same year they attended their first COTA performance when it was held at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

“It was such a fun event, unique in its delivery and very beautiful,” Dunagan said. “With the riders and organizers who worked tirelessly and devoted so much time and effort to creating this living work of art, you couldn’t help but feel the passion and good will that filled the air. It made for a magical evening.”

Susanne Hamilton will ride Lord Locksley, Margaret Stevens’ Trakehner stallion, at the 2018 Challenge of the Americas.

The 2018 Challenge will mark its first year at the Global Dressage Festival facility at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington. The riders are thrilled to compete in the venue known for world-class dressage throughout the world. Other firsts include a team from Holland competing via video and live feed of the competition, on Chronicle TV.

VIP tickets include the Challenge Gala with ringside seats for the opening ceremonies, exhibitions, and the quadrille challenge with hors d’oeuvres and drinks followed by the Challenge Gala featuring dinner and dancing. General admission tickets for the performance are $20 at the door. To purchase VIP tickets, visit www.challengeoftheamericas.com.

“It is a great honor to be a small part of this year’s Challenge of the Americas,” Dunagan said. “Fortunately, there are now many sporting events that help in raising needed money for Breast Cancer Research and awareness but, to us, there are none as unique to the exquisite art of dressage that present the sport so poetically as this great COTA evening. In combining the passion of riding with a cause so worthy, we hope this event truly goes global!”

Team Winged Foot members Susanne Hamilton, Yvonne Losos de Muñiz, Bridget Hay, Ilsa Schwarz, Marco Bernal, Coach Ruth Hogan Poulsen, and Raúl Corchuelo. Photo by Sue Weakley