Horse riders from throughout Georgia attended the 12th annual Ticket to Ride Benefit Horse Show at Wills Park the weekend of July 19. Proceeds from the show helped women's shelters in the metro area. JONATHAN COPSEY. (click for larger version)
Marietta rider Lilly Ferguson, 10, rides Farnley Tap Dancer, or "Tappy," at Wills Park. She rides at Jennifer L. Buck Stables in Marietta. JONATHAN COPSEY.
Rider Sammy Barton, of Athens, rides her horse Ray during the Ticket to Ride Benefit Horse Show at Wills Park July 20. JONATHAN COPSEY. (click for larger version)
July 29, 2013ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- The Wills Park Equestrian Center in Alpharetta was filled with humans and horses, trucks and trailers last weekend, July 19-21 for the 12th annual Ticket to Ride Benefit Horse Show.
Started by Black Horse Productions in 2002 to support Texas-based Sunshine Kids, this year the selected beneficiaries are here in Georgia. The recipients of the estimated $10,000 raised are No One Alone (NOA's) Arc servicing Dawson and Lumpkin Counties, Gateway Domestic Violence Center in Hall County, and Forsyth County's Family Haven.
Robert Aiken, senior vice president and managing broker for the Forsyth/Lake Lanier office of Harry Norman, Realtors has been involved in this equestrian fundraiser since its inception.
"Our role here is to support the show so that we can increase the income to benefit the homes for battered women. We feel that giving back to the community is something Realtors should do," Aiken said.
The producers of the show asked Aiken for help, and he gladly responded.
"The charity effect we bring changes the whole atmosphere. It's a family event; young kids, old kids, adults and professionals. They understand that their entry fees as exhibitors are going to help a good cause, a cause that we think needs more focus, that is, the homes that are provided for battered women."
This show was Georgia Hunter Jumper Association and Southern Hunter Jumper of Georgia rated, meaning that they ride strictly in English tack. Some of the 200 classes in the show were for speed, similar to the Olympics, but in most classes exhibitors were judged for their technique.
Aiken reported that some equestrian athletes take their riding to advanced levels, riding on equestrian teams in high school and college, giving them an opportunity to earn college scholarships or become professional instructors and trainers.
For more information about the Ticket to Ride Horse Show, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/tickettoridehorseshow.
This article appeared in the July 31 issue of the Milton Herald.