Chomping at the Bit
Area equestrians gallop into the Big Time
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Rick Wallace, foreground, rides his trusted, prize-winning horse, SeaQret, on the farm he owns just outside of Monticello. Rick’s protege, Briggs Surratt, joins him on his horse, SeaQuest.
Hidden in the tranquil countryside of North Florida is a community of elite athletes who are quietly gaining national and international attention.
Bounded by our famous canopy roads, the area’s hilly terrain and green pastures are the training ground for some of the country’s top ranked equestrians and their horses.
From foxhunting and polo, to western, show jumping, eventing and dressage, there are local equestrians ranked among the country’s very best and a slew of young riders to watch in the future.
Among those equestrians are two teams, in different disciplines that combine beauty and athleticism with incredible results.
Elisa and Simply Priceless (Johnny) were alternates for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
Team Wallace comprises a father/daughter pair, Rick and Elisa Wallace. Both were considered for the Olympic Eventing Team at different times. Elisa almost rode in last summer’s Olympic Games and then was the highest finishing American at a prestigious event in England. The Wallace’s protegee, Briggs Surratt, is a young man with a passion for horses and his own dreams of competing internationally.
Team Pink, contrary to its name, is not a bunch of girly girls playing with pretty ponies. These equestrians have, through grit, determination and perseverance, risen through the ranks and racked up victories on this year’s dressage show circuit.
Team Pink, led by Destin trainer Jodie Kelly, had two horses take Horse of the Year honors and win championships in their levels in 2016.
Kelly says of the local horse community, “The people are here. There is such a huge group of horse lovers in this area that I really think it is very understated. We are all here and have a lot going on. I have some young riders who are the top young riders in the country. I have jumper kids who went on to top competitions in the country.”
“We’re not just riding around in our backyards. We’re really doing it,” she says.