After one night in Vero Beach, where we did indeed lay our eyes on the ocean (just before promptly proclaiming it was “darned cold”), we ventured out to former Technical Advisor to the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons’ Knoll Farm in Chuluota. (“Chuluota” means “Isle of Pines”—just a little Florida trivia for you.) It was a terrific afternoon spent looking at Anne’s amazing collection of photographs taken over the years and talking dressage, as well as visiting the barns and meeting some of the horses in residence.
We capped off the day by taking in the Arabian Nights Dinner Attraction in Orlando, where we were impressed by the quality of the riding and the general appreciation the performers showed their horses, with the occasional pat or stroke after a job well done, even while in the spotlight. The evening ends with a terrific “act,” where the “horse performers” are turned out loose in the arena, and the audience is invited to venture down to watch their antics and meet the riders. We so enjoyed seeing the equine crew having a good roll, a little tussle, and just basically being allowed to be “horses.”
Mark Miller, owner and CEO of Arabian Nights, was kind enough to introduce himself and tell us a little about his family’s breeding business—Al-Marah Arabians—as well as the Horse Tales Literacy Project (formerly the Black Stallion Literacy Project), which he formed with his friend Tim Farley (son of author Walter Farley). Horse Tales Literacy Project is composed of both school-based and community programs where activities are developed around Walter Farley’s books and other classic horse literature, and since its inception in 1999 has inspired 600,000 first and fourth-fifth grade children to read—obviously, a cause we whole-heartedly support! Visit horsetalesliteracy.org to find out more about the program and how you can become involved.