In December last year a new type of horse show emerged. A show that would be fun, exciting and very different! Horses Got Talent was created by Rose and Rodney Cushing of Cushing Media Productions to draw spectators in and introduce them to new and exciting things with horses that they likely hadn’t seen before. “I wanted to do an event that would enchant and entertain our audience,” said Rose Cushing, Vice President of Cushing Media Productions. When you think about spectator driven classes a long list comes to mind with everything from Roman Riding to obstacle courses for horse and wagons.
After careful deliberation the list was shortened to five classes. The Liberty class which has gained popularity with all age groups is a routine done between trainer and horse with no tack, halter, or rope. The horse is choosing to follow the leader. This is a great class in that any age person can do it, and it is useful to give horses that may not be sound to ride, a job. Also a great educational tool for young horses. This class brought out all ages and types of performances. The winner in this class is Lauryn Zepeda and her Mustang Gringo. Lauryn also won high point Mustang Only Class with Gringo.
The Free Style class was open to all disciplines and breeds. This could be multiple horses, multiple riders pretty much anything you wanted to do, choreographed to music. This class brought out all ages and types of performances which our audience loved. “In working with all types of riders and disciplines we realized that often if you don’t make the top 10 nobody ever sees your freestyle performances, so we wanted to give these talented horsemen and women a forum to showcase this,” said Rodney Cushing, President of Cushing Media Productions. The winner in this class was Bill Minchew of Bills Equine Solutions in Goldsboro, NC.
We got a small taste of vaulting and drill team competitions here and there so the organizers felt that this would be something spectators would also enjoy. Equestrian Vaulting is gymnastics on horseback basically. This class features a horse and handler with single or multiple vaulters. The audience was treated to several excellent vaulting teams and individual vaulters which came from as far away as Charlotte and South Carolina. The winner of this competition went to Myrtle Beach Vaulters out of Myrtle Beach South Carolina. This talented group of folks does vaulting and therapeutic riding at their farm in Myrtle Beach and are always a pleasure to watch.
Drill Teams are basically made up of multiple horse and rider units that perform in precision and rhythm with each other, some liken it to synchronized swimming. Their performances are also done choreographed to music and when done well looks like an elegant dance routine throughout the performance. The winners of this competition was the Light up Drill Team from Shea Rose Farms with Carol Land from Charlotte, NC. Carol Land has worked with students performing on her Drill Teams and Vaulting Teams for many years and has traveled the world in competitions.
Our final competitive event was a class that was added to make sure that everyone who wanted to compete had an opportunity to do so. This was a fun category which included everything from a funny routine with some 4H kids to Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer to trick riding just like you would see at a Wild West Show. The winner of this competition was Heather Bradford and her Rocking Riders. They presented a carefully designed performance depicting restoring the balance between horses and mankind done to Star Wars theme featuring multiple horses and riders and on the ground performers with a great set of props.
That in itself would have been a remarkable show, but the entertainment did not stop there. The show also included demonstration performances by some other really cool horsemen and women that just don’t see all the time. Our first demo was done by six year old Filleigh Kay Jordan and her pony Squirt followed by loyal companion Aural the donkey. Filleigh Kay wanted to show that spirits are happy when they leave their bodies and shine on forever within our hearts. Filleigh Kay designed and choreographed her routine all by herself.
We were then treated to a demo by Stampede of Love which is a group of volunteers in AAT/Animal Assisted Therapy adventures with our team of Miniature Horses-Leo, Lola, Taz andes Kiwi. Based in Raleigh, NC these volunteers and miniature horses demonstrated to the audience their versatility, athleticism and ability to heal. After all who can help but smile when they see these guys!
Ashley Pletcher from Winston Salem, NC thrilled our audience with her feats of standing in the saddle, the death drag and more. Ashley is a professional entertainer and teaches trick riding.
Another amazing demonstration performed by 6 de Marzo and Association De Charros. The English meaning group of cowboys rooted in Mexican style training of horses and preservation Mexican Ranch heritage. They show us a celebration of ranch culture, roping skills used in cattle work and advanced horsemanship. Horses are even taught to “dance” which is comparable to Dressage maneuvers. These Charros are based in Middlesex, North Carolina and are headed up by Jesus Torres.
We were also treated to a parade of the Saddlebred breed ridden by Cashlyn Lovell from Cash Lovell Stables in Winston Salem, NC. This majestic horse is considered the “peacock” of the equine world with its natural gaits and carriage truly a joy to behold.
Our featured performer of the evening was Mary Miller Jordan and her herd of Mustangs. Mary Miller-Jordan (MMJ) lives with her family on Be Life Farm. Mary Miller Jordan and her first Mustang partner 'Lindsay's Faith' were featured on a reality TV show and won the National title “America’s Favorite Trail Horse”. Lindsay’s Faith has since been immortalized as a Breyer Model horse. Jordan has published two children’s books, Silver Mane & Be You Lenny, both featuring the wild Mustang - Lindsay's Faith. Jordan and her then '100 day from the wild' Mustang, Silver Lining, performed a completely “tackles” freestyle and won Supreme Extreme Mustang Makeover Reserve Champion in 2012. In 2013 MMJ's wild horse gentling techniques were featured on the National Geographic Wild TV Show “Mustang Millionaire” as she gentled and trained a new wild horse - Flying Colors. Jordan’s Extreme Mustang Makeover challenges inspired her to produce a horse show of her own design. Thus a horse show called LOPE was born, it is a unique Liberty, Pattern & Obstacle Event - where the reward is in the relationship and all levels of horse - human teams are encouraged to join in the fun. Jordan and her Mustangs always produce a tender moment to savor the bond of human horse relationships, the trust, the love, the magic.
This wonderful event would not have been complete without a visit from the North Pole as Santa Claus paid us a visit riding in on a horse drawn wagon provided by Allan Harper, of Harper Landscaping and Dixie Carriages out of Stantonsburg, North Carolina.
Due to the tragic devastation that our state, particularly Robeson County suffered during Hurricane Matthew the event was changed from a paid admission to a food and toy drive for area residents. Admission was 5 cans of food or an unwrapped toy. The event was a huge success and raised 35 boxes of nonperishable food and over 100 toys that were distributed to hurricane victims the following weekend. “Horses Got Talent will be a fund raiser in 2017 for the Cushing Media Foundation, established in 2016, which will provide opportunities for media boot camps, grants to allow horsemen and women further training in their respective fields and growth of the equine industry as a whole,” said Rose Cushing.
This year’s event will be held on December 9, 2017 in Lumberton at the Southeastern Agriculture Center. You can find information on becoming a sponsor for this great event, a competitor or a vendor at our website www.CushingMediaProductions.com. Competitors will be limited to 100 so get your applications in early.