Marlene Whitaker Volunteers Custom Freestyles to Make a Difference

Marlene Whitaker, owner of Custom Freestyle Inc., became involved with the Challenge of the Americas years ago when she was able to spend a full winter show season in Wellington, Florida. She enjoyed attending rehearsals, interacting with the riders, seeing the project evolve and watching the final outcome of the competition. Due to family elder care needs, she was unable to commit to the weekly rehearsal schedule the Grand Prix Quadrille Challenge teams adhere to, but she remained committed to the cause by creating individual or duo pieces when asked by her participating clients.

This year, Team Wright Dressage and Patti Thompson Dressage needed music and two of the team’s quadrille riders are her clients, so Marlene was happy to lend her expertise. Since Diane Creech, Vanessa Creech-Terauds and Patti Thompson are volunteering their coaching skills and leadership to the team, Marlene thought working long distances might work.

“I couldn’t help myself and drove the 1,550 miles to attend one rehearsal,” said the Asheville, North Carolina, resident. “It was fun to see everyone’s efforts developing the program and so worth it!”

Marlene has a personal reason she is involved in the Challenge of the Americas: her best friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and had a subsequent mastectomy. Marlene asked her friend to the March 8 Challenge of the Americas to help lift her spirits.

“To know I am working for something greater than any of us individually is fundamental,” Marlene explained. “I have been involved with Wellington dressage for 33 years, so I have watched this project evolve in size, scope, location and consequence. Hats off to Mary Ross for her diligent, effective efforts to honor her mother and, thereby, benefit us all.”

Marlene’s choreography and music have been featured at (and garnered medals from) some of the top dressage competitions in the world including the Olympic Games, the World Equestrian Games, World Cup, Pan Am Games, Asian Games, North American Young Riders Championships, European Young Riders Championships, and U.S. national and regional championships.

“Whatever the issue or project, I enjoy meeting the people and seeing their special relationships with their horses and I hope my clients know they can depend on me,” she said.