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Wellington The Magazine, LLC Featured Articles

Hilda Porro Takes A Holistic And Mindful Approach To Practicing Law

Hilda Porro Takes A Holistic And Mindful Approach To Practicing Law

Wellington attorney Hilda Porro has worked hard to cement her reputation within the community as a professional who approaches all types of legal matters with compassion, allowing her clients to understand the law and how it will affect both themselves and their families.

Specializing in holistic law, Porro chooses to focus on the whole person and their unique legal situation. For some, holistic law may be an unfamiliar term. Holistic law is an approach, or style, of practice that focuses on the individual in their entirety and how their distinctiveness as an individual influences their legal situation. The approach then seeks to find sustainable and positive solutions based on that individual’s needs and conditions.

“I chose to practice holistic law because I felt that it was a perfect combination of my values and the practice of law,” Porro said. “[Holistic law] acknowledges our shared humanity, first and foremost. The main goal is to smooth over conflicts and to aid the client in maintaining communications and show a willingness to have full conversations based on the client’s situation.”

This approach to law differs from traditional practices where the focus is generally on the facts of a client’s situation. However, her unique approach comes as no surprise, since, when not assisting clients at her legal practice, Porro also offers services as a certified life coach and shaman.

It is this unique blending of professional skills that has allowed Porro to create a practice that has not only benefited from her legal expertise, but has also maintained a small town, personal feel appreciated by many Wellington residents. Porro concentrates in three areas of law: estate planning; probate and trust administration; and real estate transactions.

Porro brings almost 30 years of experience to assist with the sale or purchase of real estate, including contract-to-closing representation in residential and commercial transactions, including review and preparation of contracts, title-related documentation and all closing documents. She also has extensive experience with both year-round Wellington residents and the seasonal equestrian community. This knowledge allows Porro to have a deep understanding of the concerns of each.

Buying and selling a home, or even an investment property, can easily become stressful, as the legal system often encourages an adversarial approach, even when all parties have the same goal in mind. Porro’s goal is to completely represent her clients while also assisting in mitigating possible disagreements or conflicts that may arise. As a licensed title insurance agent, Porro has successfully handled a wide assortment of issues over the years.

“I am passionate about supporting my clients, and I am very invested in the success of their endeavors,” Porro said. “Addressing important legal needs, such as buying and selling a new home, is worth conscious focus and attention. I’ve designed my practice to address my clients’ unique concerns so that their legal needs are addressed, and they experience peace of mind as well.”

This approach comes as a refreshing surprise to many new clients, as it is not typical. Porro utilizes her training as a life coach to support clients in navigating the stressful times of transition, such as buying or selling a home, through mindfulness to move from and into a physical space that is clear and supportive.

“Having an attorney provides assurance that your specific interests are protected; that you’re not being overcharged or held responsible for something beyond your contractual obligation,” Porro said. “This is especially important as a buyer so that title is reviewed and confirmed clear with no errors in closing documents. Life coaching skills help in navigating the time of transition, for both sellers and buyers. Our homes often create a feeling of security. Moving is stressful on a deeper level than is often acknowledged.”

Aside from her practice in Wellington, Porro is also an integral part of the recently opened Triad Wellness Center in Jupiter. At Triad, her main objective is to aid clients in discovering true wellness through a holistic approach to wellness, which involves self-inquiry into all areas of her clients’ lives, including one’s physical body, physical surroundings, social life/relationships, career/self-expression, spirituality, finances, rest/relaxation, and, in her opinion, the most important and often overlooked component, fun.

“Professionally, I am a life coach, lawyer and shaman,” Porro said. “My goal in each role that I play is to support individuals in finding and living their own truth. By doing so, one can experience wellness, living life as the blessing that it is. Each one of us is unique. It’s easy to lose sight of what is essential, caught in the bustle of the day-to-day. It takes time and attention to become consciously aware of what is most important. It requires clearing away untruths that we’ve adopted along the way and deeply listening. By slowing down, we can begin to learn and develop our own language, and experience the support that I believe is there for every one of us. Willingness to look at all aspects of our lives can open doors to receiving the support that we need.”

In order to make a change toward wellness, Porro feels that people need awareness, an action plan, accountability and, in some cases, professional help. Through her life experiences, Porro believes that true wellness is holistic, since when one part of life is out of balance, the whole is affected. Her purpose is to help her fellow neighbors find that security within their lives.

To learn more about Hilda Porro’s law practice, visit www.hildaporrolaw.com.

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GPL Tournament Returns This Month for 10th Anniversary Event

GPL Tournament Returns This Month for 10th Anniversary EventOn and off the field, the International Gay Polo Tournament, hosted by the Gay Polo League in Wellington, keeps getting bigger and better, and the upcoming 10th anniversary celebration is maintaining that tradition.GPL founder Chip McKenney had a vision, and it has given way to something unique.

This year’s four-day extravaganza is highlighted by the return of the festive “GPL Polotini Presents Wigstock!,” an over-the-top pre-party for a purpose on Friday, April 5 at the members-only Mallet Grill at International Polo Club Palm Beach, followed by tournament games featuring the coveted Senator’s Cup and the famed tailgate competition on Saturday, April 6 at IPC’s Isla Carroll field.

“From the beginning, I dreamed that the GPL’s International Gay Polo Tournament would evolve into a destination event for LGBTQ polo players,” said McKenney, who has played every year since the event’s inception. “I believed the concept was unique and would be embraced by the LGBTQ community as something different and special. That said, I never dreamed the event would attract the attention and support of people outside the LGBTQ communities. Nor did I envision that the non-polo, social aspects of the event would evolve into what they are today.”

Several professional polo players, including Joey Casey, Charlie Muldoon, Sugar Erskine and Tiffany Busch, donate their time and skills, quarterbacking the teams.

“Through their involvement, these professional players give the GPL tournament a legitimacy of sport, and their participation helps to elevate awareness of the GPL tournament to the global polo community,” McKenney said.

Casey, who owns the Palm City Polo Club in Boynton Beach, was instrumental in helping McKenney get the event going.

“I read about the GPL and reached out to Chip 10 years ago and brought them to Florida,” said Casey, a fourth-generation polo player.

In that article, McKenney expressed a goal to one day bring the GPL to Wellington because it is the epicenter of polo in North America.

“Joey sent me an e-mail expressing his support and willingness to help make it possible for GPL to come to Florida,” McKenney said. “He offered to organize pros and ponies for our group. Since our initial contact, Joey and his team have been instrumental in the shaping and growth of the league. His club embraced GPL members without hesitation, and we are grateful for his involvement.”

Former 6-goaler Muldoon helped Casey run a polo clinic for GPL players, and that’s where he met McKenney.

“I loved the idea of promoting how inclusive our sport is,” said Muldoon, another multi-generational polo player. “It has been an honor and pleasure to be a part of it. It’s also crazy fun.”

Muldoon said the level of polo has progressed because the original group has improved so much due to Casey’s coaching, as well as the addition of so many new international GPL players.

McKenney began playing polo in 2006 after retiring from show jumping. Schedule permitting, he practices and plays polo three times a week at the Palm City Polo Club. When he began, he only played arena polo. Now he primarily plays on the grass in 6-goal tournaments and an occasional 10-goal tournament.

“My understanding of polo is probably the area I have improved the most,” McKenney said. “Understanding the strategy, the rules and how to contribute as a team member has opened up the game for me. When I first began, I simply ran to the ball and tried to hit it, often failing. Once I understood the offense and defense sides of the game, I enjoyed the sport much more.”

While the action on the field has improved, it is the colorful sideline activities that provides the flair of the event.

“The level of enthusiasm and support non-polo players, gay and straight, demonstrate for the event is remarkable,” McKenney said. “Everyone who has attended our event is thrilled by the tailgate competition, which has become a huge part of the event’s culture, and significantly contributes to the overall experience. Tailgates encourage interaction between all the people who come to the tournament, so our event is inclusive and engaging in ways other events are not.”

Every year brings a new layer of quality to the event, McKenney added, who explained that the biggest difference between the first year and now is the level of play.

“Our first year, most of us were new to the sport of polo, so the matches were a bit slower and less competitive,” McKenney said. “Now, many of our players are solid in their polo skills, which has significantly resulted in more advanced polo matches. To non-polo players, probably the biggest difference is the growth in the number of attendees. The first year, we had approximately 900 people come cheer us on. This year, we anticipate close to 5,000 people who will share the day with us.”

Every year, the GPL chooses a charity partner. This year, the not-for-profit partner is Sage, the nation’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to serving and advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors.

“It is a great feeling to be able to use our event to raise awareness and much-needed funds for an organization that provides services to a segment of our community that is often overlooked, underserved and relatively invisible,” McKenney said.

From the beginning, the tournament was a team effort, with dozens of volunteers and committees organizing the biggest party of the polo season.

“I had the good fortune to align with great people who shared my vision of creating and producing a high-end sporting event within the LGBTQ space,” McKenney said. “Over the past 10 years, so many people have contributed to turning my dream into a reality, and I am well aware that the current success of the GPL tournament is a shared success and the result of a shared vision.”

Tickets for the 10th annual International Gay Polo Tournament and its festivities are currently on sale at www.gaypolo.com/tickets.

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Growing List of Sponsors on Board To Support International Gay Polo Tournament

Growing List of Sponsors on Board To Support International Gay Polo Tournament

When the 10th annual Land Rover Palm Beach International Gay Polo Tournament, presented by RSM US, returns to Wellington from April 4 through April 7, it will bring with it a growing list of sponsors helping to make the event a success.

Land Rover Palm Beach continues its longstanding commitment to the community as the title sponsor of the event for the third year.

“Participating in the annual International Gay Polo Tournament gave us a chance to promote our support for equality actively,” said Matt Adkins, general manager of Land Rover Palm Beach. “We’ve enjoyed working with [Gay Polo League founder] Chip McKenney in the past, and when he approached us about getting involved in the GPL tournament, something we knew was significant to him, we felt honored to take part.”

Whether it’s supporting local high school athletics, the area Boy Scouts council, or the dealership’s strong ties with Furry Friends Adoption Clinic and the Ranch Humane Society of Greater Jupiter/Tequesta, Land Rover Palm Beach enjoys supporting the community.

“The annual GPL tournament is unlike any other event we participate in throughout the year,” Adkins said. “It’s a chance to use our creativity as a company to celebrate diversity in an inclusive and fun way. GPL quickly became our favorite — and most talked about — community event of the year, and it’s one we look forward to every spring. Land Rover has always been a fantastic supporter of polo globally, and this was another way to support the sport locally in Wellington.”

No stranger to equestrian events, Land Rover is a longtime supporter of equestrian sports, with decades of show jumping and event sponsorships. Land Rover Palm Beach’s 2019 status will further solidify its pre-eminence in the equestrian sphere. As an elegant luxury brand, Land Rover Palm Beach aligns perfectly with the vision of the Gay Polo League’s flagship tournament, and the capabilities of Land Rover’s vehicles equally match the rigors of equestrian sport.

GPL is also thrilled to welcome back RSM US LLP — a leading provider of audit, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market — as the event’s presenting sponsor.

“At RSM, we demonstrate our core values of respect, integrity, teamwork, excellence and stewardship every day through our interactions with one another, with our clients, and with our communities,” said RSM’s Kerensa Butler, partner, southeast private equity leader and national pride employee network group leader. “We’re honored to be a part of the Gay Polo League.”

RSM’s goal is to deliver the power of being understood to clients, colleagues and communities. Initially introduced to GPL through a major wealth management client, RSM’s support has grown tremendously over the years, as has the firm’s commitment to the LGBT community.

“Our decision to sponsor GPL started out of support for an organization that one of our clients was passionate about,” said Mike Lin, a manager with RSM Wealth Management. “Over time, our relationship with GPL grew as we learned more about its charitable mission and the potential to align with our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

Meanwhile, Cherry Knoll Farm returns as the tournament’s VIP tent sponsor. Located at midfield, VIP guests will experience excellence from the ground up, feel the power of the ponies as they race toward the goal posts and be front and center for all the action. The royal treatment includes tableside service throughout the day with a full open bar and a gourmet lunch buffet catered by the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Cherry Knoll Farm, located in West Grove, Pa., operates on the philosophy of “quality over quantity.” This is true for its great success throughout the Angus industry, as well as high-performance equestrian sports, such as show jumping, dressage and para-dressage. Cherry Knoll Farm owns some of the most esteemed high-performance Grand Prix dressage horses and show jumpers in the industry today.

“Our sponsors represent organizations that proactively support and advance equality and diversity. It is important that we recognize the importance of our LGBTQ allies — the people, brands and companies who enthusiastically embrace and support our community, namely our wonderful sponsors,” McKenney said. “To these people and companies, we extend a heartfelt thanks. We are proud and grateful to be associated with you.”

Other sponsors include Black Hound Sports, Celebrity Cruises, Cedar Crest Stables, Chervo, Consign & Design, David Lerner Associates, Discover the Palm Beaches, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, GJ Racing, Goshen Hill/Caroline Moran, OutClique Magazine, the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, Patricia Quick, RBC Wealth Management, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, Sperry Tents Miami, Stefano Laviano, the Tackeria and Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

Tickets for the 10th annual International Gay Polo Tournament and its festivities are currently on sale at www.gaypolo.com/tickets. The Gay Polo League is still offering sponsorship opportunities at different levels for the tournament. For more information, contact Chip McKenney at chip@gaypolo.com.

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Miss Rodeo Florida Cara Spirazza Got Her Start In The Wellington Area

Miss Rodeo Florida Cara Spirazza Got Her Start In The Wellington Area

Little did Cara Spirazza know how far her love of horses would bring her. Born and raised in Palm Beach County, Spirazza, now 24, recently competed for and won the title of Miss Rodeo Florida 2019.

The Miss Rodeo Florida competition was based heavily on horsemanship, as well as appearance, personality, interviews and knowledge of rodeo. These are all things Spirazza honed during her time competing in the Wellington area.

Spirazza started riding horses at the age of three and competed in equestrian events throughout her life. As team captain of the University of Central Florida Western Equestrian Team, she helped lead her team to the state championship in 2015.

“My reining trainer taught me so much,” Spirazza recalled. “When we were faced with high-pressure competitions, he would tell us to ‘just ride!’ and have fun. That was helpful advice. It was my trainer who first introduced me to Rodeo Queens.”

As Miss Rodeo Florida, Spirazza has volunteered to be the state’s official representative of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Miss Rodeo Florida travels throughout Florida and the country to promote rodeo and the western way of life. Spirazza takes tremendous pride when she rides into the arena carrying the American flag, and also when she rides “fast fly-bys.”

“We need to be able to ride any horse,” she explained. “You never know the temperament of the horse you will be riding. There are no practice runs — we just ride.”

Hospital and school visits, parade participation and community events are just some of the responsibilities of Rodeo Queens. Spirazza is especially compassionate about visiting children at hospitals and often asks rodeo cowboys to join her.

“The rodeo community is very supportive of one another,” she said. “We want to see each other succeed.”

Being raised in a medical family, Spirazza grew up with the satisfaction of helping others. She helped raise and train service dogs for disabled veterans through Paws for Liberty and derived great satisfaction from assisting hippo-therapists, especially when it involved treating disabled children. Spirazza enjoyed the time she spent volunteering locally at the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center.

Spirazza’s other unique experiences include being in charge of 32 horses at Rocky Springs State Park and giving trail rides, as well as serving as a volunteer firefighter for the Notasulga Volunteer Fire Department when time allows. Her first assignment was to be propelled down an abandoned well shaft to rescue a dog.

Spirazza’s innate altruism and love for animals has led her to rescue many animals and nurse them back to health, and she decided early in life that she wanted to become a veterinarian.

“I am often asked, ‘How do you handle school and rodeo?’ As a second-year veterinary medical student at the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine in Tuskegee, Ala., I have a very vigorous schedule. I must stay organized. I take my homework on the road… time management is important,” Spirazza said. “I am fortunate that my school is supportive and accommodating of my rodeo schedule, and I am fortunate that the Miss Florida Rodeo Association is equally supportive of my veterinary school schedule and workload. My passion for both veterinary medicine and rodeo is what keeps me going.”

Spirazza plans on becoming a large animal veterinarian with a focus on equine sports medicine after graduation.

At the end of each year, all of the state rodeo queens compete for the title of Miss Rodeo America in Las Vegas, in conjunction with the National Finals Rodeo. The competition has all the glitz and glamour of the Miss America Pageant, but with a western twist — formal colorful gowns with cowboy boots and hats, dazzling crowns and beautiful belt buckles. You won’t see rodeo queens sing and dance. Their true talent is horsemanship.

After graduation, Spirazza said she would “love to get back to barrel racing and one day be a professional barrel racer. It’s such an amazing part of rodeo.”

Her suggestion for young equestrians is to “follow their passion while serving others.”

You can follow her journey on Facebook at Miss Rodeo Florida Association. She’s always willing to help young equestrians and welcomes them to reach out to her.

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Future Polo Star Hope Arellano Aims To Be The Best She Can Be

Future Polo Star Hope Arellano Aims To Be The
Best She Can Be

Polo player Hope Arellano, a rising 15-year-old star who regularly competes with men and women, has been busy making a name for herself in the sport since winning the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship in 2017. She was the youngest player ever to win America’s top prize in women’s polo.

“I’m going to keep striving to be the best that I can,” said Arellano, who has been heralded as a shining example of the next generation of polo players who are blazing a trail promoting the sport worldwide.

Born into a true polo family from Wellington and Aiken, S.C., Arellano played in her first match prenatally. “I was [still] in my mom’s tummy, and the other team said that we were cheating because there were actually five girls on the team, not four,” Arellano explained.

Hope is the daughter of Julio and Meghan Arellano, and sister to Agustin and Lucas Arellano. The whole family participates in the sport. “My dad is a professional polo player, and my mom used to play, but when my brothers started playing, she gave them her horses,” Arellano said. “My mom and my dad are very supportive of my polo career. Since I started competing in tournaments at age 11, my mom even traveled overnight with my horses from Wyoming to Santa Barbara to give me the opportunity to play in the highest-rated tournament on the West Coast.”

Proficiently swinging a mallet at age six, Arellano bypassed the transition from competing as a junior competitor to playing with adults because she began playing in adult tournaments when she was so young. Despite her mature talent, Arellano’s current string of horses gives a hint to her age. She named off the current mounts: “Hot Diggity Dog, Milkshake, BB, Bumble Bee, Cha Ching, Goosebumps, Got Milk, Jackson and Wild Flower.”

In addition to winning the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship in 2017, Arellano said other times on the field also stand out as highlights. “Winning the 12-goal Pete Bostwick Memorial with my two brothers and my dad,” she recalled. “Last year, I got to substitute for the Daily Racing Form team in the 20-goal season.”

Arellano enjoys the comradery of the sport. “The opportunity to play with players at this level was amazing for my learning experience, and they were so kind to me,” she said. “My favorite thing about polo is the horses… But I also love that polo is an extended family. Wherever you go, you’re welcomed.”

Arellano is currently homeschooled by her mother because it allows her to travel while still getting a great education. “Polo is a traveling sport, so I enjoy the opportunity to go back and forth from Aiken to South Florida,” she said.

The well-organized teenager makes efficient use of her time to balance schoolwork with the equestrian lifestyle and the game of polo. “I’ve always had to multitask, and we had a lot of family animals, like baby sheep, horses, racoons, etc.,” Arellano explained. “I always wanted to get up early to take care of the animals. This created an environment where I’ve never really had to not work hard.”

Currently Arellano is focusing on a new position as well as improving her playing prowess. “I am very excited to be partnering with U.S. Polo Assn. and being one of their global brand ambassadors,” she said. “I am also very focused on trying to learn and become a better player at all times. These two things are of great focus to me right now.”

Being the newest member of U.S. Polo Assn.’s growing roster of global brand ambassadors, she’ll be outfitted in company gear on and off the field. Arellano will post regularly about her polo-related and other daily activities on social media and engage in interviews. The goal is to boost awareness of the sport of polo among young women like herself.

Arellano described some of the goals she holds for women in the sport.

“Women in polo is growing every day, not only in the U.S. but globally,” she said. “Sunny Hale, a pioneer in the game, paved the road for women and created playing opportunities. I’m excited to be playing in this year’s U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship, which was recently moved to Wellington. It’ll be exciting to see the women come together to build awareness.”

Arellano is also featured in a “Women In Polo” digital and television show. “I also recently participated in an upcoming documentary-type show with Palm Beach County and U.S. Polo Assn., covering women in the sport and their lives on-and-off the field,” she said.

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Juan Matute Jr. Was Born To Compete, Following In His Father’s Footsteps

Juan Matute Jr. Was Born To Compete, Following In His Father’s Footsteps

In sports, great athletes achieve success with hard work, dedication and a passion to win. It takes guts and courage, too, to be successful. And, at times, it helps to have great bloodlines. Such is the case with Juan Matute Guimon, also known as Juan Matute Jr.

Matute Jr. has emerged in recent years as one of dressage’s best young talents. His family moved to Wellington from Spain in 2008. If you look at the career of his father, Juan Matute Sr., it’s clear that the younger Matute was born to follow his father’s accomplished footsteps, whose first big victory was at the 1982 Young Rider World Championships. During the elder Matute’s career, he won six Spanish National Dressage Championships and had three Olympic appearances for Spain.

Currently, Matute Jr. is living in Spain where he’s competing in dressage and going to college at Madrid’s Universidad Camilo Jose Cela. He moved to Europe last year in pursuit of new challenges and experiences, both as an athlete and in academics.

“I am pursuing a degree in business, but next year, I will change to international relations,” Matute Jr. said. “The winter circuit in Wellington has served as a launching pad for my career as a dressage rider. Over the years, I have gained a lot of experience as a competitor, and this has enabled me to grow as a rider from Juniors to Grand Prix. It was time for me to fly the nest and get out of my comfort zone to continue evolving in all aspects.”

Balancing an athletic career with college is not easy, but he’s making it work. “It’s challenging psychologically and with time management,” he admitted.

Matute Jr.’s most recent competition was a second-place finish in Doha, Qatar in February and a fifth-place finish at the World Cup in Lyon, France last November.

According to his accomplished father, Matute Jr. is a better competitor now at age 21 than he was at age 21.

Right now, Matute Jr. is ranked in top five dressage riders in the world rankings of riders under age 25, and in the world’s overall top 60 riders.

“He is the best at his age. He has a special sense of determination,” Matute Sr. said of his son. “He has a magical touch with the horses.”

Matute Jr.’s career started in 2012, when he competed for the first time in a CDI Juniors while riding Don Diego. He eventually won that division’s gold medal at the European Championships in 2015 while riding Dhannie Ymas. In 2016, Matute Jr. had a banner year. In Wellington, he competed on 36 occasions, and he won 17 of them. That summer, he won the bronze medal at the Under 25 European Championships in Germany, aboard Don Diego.

In 2017, Juan won a bronze medal with Quantico at the Under 25 European Championships in Austria. And in 2018, he won a bronze medal with Quantico at the senior Spanish National Championships and participated with the Spanish national team at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C.

The greater dressage world offers high praise for Matute Jr.

“He’s honest, hard-working, and he’s had good guidance in life,” Olympic judge Gary Rockwell said.

“He’s a real talent, following in his father’s footsteps,” German dressage rider Christoph Koschel said.

“He’s a wonderful young man, and he’s very committed to the sport,” added Allyn Mann, director of strategic partnerships for dressage sponsor Adequan.

During his early days in dressage, Matute Jr. maintained a family tradition. In 2014, he wore his father’s 30-year-old tailcoat in competitions. The tailcoat experience was short-lived. “It was a huge honor and privilege to wear his tailcoat,” he recalled. “I wore it for one year. I simply outgrew it.”

As Matute Sr. reflects on his competitive days, one of his fondest memories was coming out of retirement and participating at the 2013 Nations Cup in Wellington, where his two children were his teammates and his wife Maria was the team chef. The Matute triumvirate won the bronze medal.

As for his future in dressage, Matute Jr. explained that his dad has given him great advice. “He constantly reminds me to keep a broad perspective and to remain patient with my ambition to one day become one of the best in the sport,” he said. “Success in our sport depends on the human-horse partnership, and it takes years to form a powerful bond.”

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Teddy Vlock Balances Schoolwork, Training & Moving Up In The Horse World

Teddy Vlock Balances Schoolwork, Training & Moving Up In The Horse World

Teddy Vlock is no stranger to a busy schedule. As a full-time student at Yale University, co-founder of T&R Developments and an up-and-coming young rider with a busy competition schedule at the Winter Equestrian Festival, 21-year-old Vlock knows how to manage his time.

With Vlock Show Stables, based in Wellington, the young athlete devotes half of his week to competing in Florida, and commutes to spend the other half at college in Connecticut. A psychology major, Vlock is in his sophomore year at Yale and has learned how to balance studying for his classes while also maintaining a full show schedule every winter in Wellington.

“I’m in classes all day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday doing school work. When I fly back to Wellington on Wednesday nights, I try to focus on just my riding,” Vlock explained. “I do what I have to do to get my school work done — I study on the plane a lot.”

While many top competitors have been training since childhood, Vlock began riding at the age of 13 thanks to a summer camp that offered equestrian activities as a part of its program. As the summer camp drew to an end, Vlock’s interest in horses was just beginning.

That initial intrigue has developed into more than just an enjoyable pastime. Vlock now competes regularly in FEI classes around the world with some of his current top horses, including Charly Brown, Gaspar Van Den Doorn and Cristobar, a horse that took Vlock from the 1.20m jumpers to international competition at the 1.50m height.

Some of Vlock’s most memorable moments in his career include placing third in the CSI2* final of the Longines Global Champions Tour Saint Tropez in 2018, and more recently placing in the top 10 of the $36,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup CSI3* during Week Six of WEF. “I don’t judge my success on winning all of the time. To finish in the top 10 of a Grand Prix, alongside the top riders in the world, is a great success in my mind,” Vlock said. “I try to compare myself to the people who are at the top in this sport, knowing all of the amazing things they have accomplished.”

Vlock began his competitive career in the junior hunters. With the help of an exceptionally special horse, Grey Street, the pair dominated the junior hunter division in 2016, collecting championship honors during the WEF circuit and the prestigious Devon Horse Show in Pennsylvania, finishing the year with a championship win at the historic National Horse Show in Kentucky.

Thanks to the team at Vlock Show Stables, in addition to one of his trainers, Irish show jumper Darragh Kenny of Oakland Stables, Vlock’s transition from the hunter ring to the jumpers was seamless. Working with Kenny, currently ranked 20th in the world, has proven to be a vital part of Vlock’s progression. “Teddy has progressed very nicely in the past few years. He has a great team behind him helping to work toward his goals. We made a plan that we all believe in, and Teddy has worked very hard to be more competitive at the higher levels,” Kenny said.

Kenny and Vlock have now worked together for three years, and Vlock credits much of his success to the Irish athlete, along with his entire team at Vlock Show Stables, including his other trainer Stephen Moore.

“I think we have a very good balance on my team with Stephen Moore and Oakland working together,” Vlock said. “I have a lot of respect for Darragh as a rider and a really amazing teacher.”

While both are based in Wellington during the winter season, the two have formed a dynamic training relationship that works throughout the remainder of year, often while Kenny is campaigning throughout Europe for his own competition schedule. “When Darragh isn’t here, he always watches all of my rounds, wherever they are, and then calls me after the class so we can talk about it,” Vlock said.

As the equestrian season ends in Wellington, Vlock is looking toward preparing for traveling North America and Europe with his team. His competition schedule will take him to Lexington, Kentucky and Calgary in Canada, as well as Europe to compete in various legs of the Longines Global Champions Tour, where the young rider is a member of the Scandinavian Vikings team.

All the while, Vlock will continue studying at Yale and balancing management of T&R Developments, an elite equestrian, residential and restaurant property business.

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Hometown Girl Victoria Colvin Accumulates Victories In Wellington

Hometown Girl Victoria Colvin Accumulates Victories In Wellington

At only 21 years old, Victoria Colvin’s list of victories in equestrian sport is already longer than many seasoned veterans, having earned championships and awards in prestigious competitions across the country since she was a child. Though Colvin’s reign has extended to multiple states, she rode to many competitive highlights in her hometown of Wellington, adding more sweetness to her success.

Boasting titles in the hunter, jumper and equitation rings, the young professional is a frequent sight in the winner’s circle at South Florida’s top horse shows, and she has already added more trophies to her growing collection since the beginning of the 2019 season.

“It’s so amazing to have grown up in Wellington as an equestrian. Though I may not have realized it when I was younger, I had access to some of the best horses and trainers that the country had to offer, all at my backdoor,” Colvin said. “Now as an adult and a professional, I’m lucky to be able to drive down the street to some of the best horse shows and venues in the country, while so many people travel here from across the world.”

Thanks to her natural talent and consistent eye, Colvin set herself up for industry success following a highly productive junior career as one of the winningest young riders in history. She claimed titles in the 2012 and 2014 annual George Morris Excellence in Equitation Championships, both held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, which instigated her subsequent command of equitation classes, during which time she topped the podium in almost all of the country’s major finals.

Since aging out of the equitation divisions, she has rallied in the hunter and jumper rings, now also training her own students to follow in her footsteps.

Colvin has solidified herself as a formidable force, and some of her best showings have been on home turf. In 2019 alone, Colvin triumphed aboard Brad Wolf’s Private Practice in the hotly contested $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular at WEF, her fifth time winning the flagship event, and subsequently rode Meralex Farm’s El Primero to the top prize in the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby during the Palm Beach Masters Series’ Deeridge Derby, where she defended her title as the reigning champion.

“This winter show season has been an incredible one for me. After our team’s achievements in 2018, to be able to return in 2019 and repeat some of those successes has affirmed our efforts,” Colvin said. “Last year, we had one of our best show seasons in Wellington to date, so that set a high bar for this year, but I’m proud to say that we have been able to continue our success.”

During the 2018 WEF, Colvin was awarded the status of WEF Overall Hunter Rider after navigating 18 horses to champion or reserve champion honors 29 times in a variety of hunter divisions. In the jumper ring, she raced to the top in the $25,000 Hermes U25 Grand Prix Team Event as the only double clear in the irons aboard John and Stephanie Ingram’s I Love Lucy, and later won the $25,000 CP National Grand Prix with Neil Jones Equestrian’s Clochard, despite having only recently sat on the horse for the first time.

“Some of my best memories have happened in Wellington, including some of my big horse show firsts. As someone who makes her living as an equestrian, there is no place better to build a business and grow in your career,” Colvin said. “More than just my hometown, Wellington is where I have grown as an equestrian and ridden to a number of achievements, so it will always be a special place for me.”

Colvin aptly made her debut appearance in Grand Prix competition in Wellington. At the young age of 13, she navigated Rivers Edge’s Monsieur Du Reverdy to the lead spot in the victory gallop in the $25,000 ESP Spring 6 Grand Prix ahead of 30 other seasoned competitors as a rookie to the class. Since then, the 21-year-old has been a contender in many more upper-level classes in Wellington, sometimes besting counterparts more than double her years from countries across the globe.

As a thriving competitor and trainer, Colvin has made a name for herself on the international stage, all from her hometown. With so many local and national opportunities for greatness at her disposal and a long list of victories bolstering her career, she has certainly taken advantage of all that Wellington’s equestrian scene has to offer.

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Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show Brings Tradition, Family Fun To Wellington

Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show Brings Tradition, Family Fun To Wellington

The inaugural Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show was held Feb. 8-10 at Wellington’s Crab Orchard Equestrian Estate, donated for the weekend by Frank and Monica McCourt. Founded by Victoria McCullough, the event was a marriage of her passion for draft horse breeds and her love of Wellington. A change from the sport horses that usually frequent Wellington, the world-class Clydesdales, Percherons and Belgians flocked to the show to exhibit their power, agility and beauty.

The show was a weekend of fun and excitement with families traveling to Wellington from all over the United States and Canada. A true family affair, most participants showcase generations of family and teamwork, whether they groom the horses, drive in competition or are responsible for standing at their heads while they are evaluated by the judge. The joys of being in the South Florida sun were echoed all weekend by exhibitors and was a welcomed change from the sport’s usual northern venues. The three-day weekend saw tough competition and stand-out performances as teams vied for valuable points to qualify for the finals in the fall.

Draft horse competition may be new to Wellington, but it has a loyal following across North America. The weekend was held as part of the North American Six-Horse Hitch Classic Series, comprised of more than 60 qualifying competitions. Started in 1987 as a way to bring awareness to the draft breeds, the series is now a well-recognized event, with locals coming back each year to cheer on their favorite teams when they come to town. Although it had humble beginnings, the series has grown to offer generous prize money and travel funds for those accepted to the final. Now considered the “triple crown” of draft horse competition, the sport is well followed within the equestrian community and is a welcomed addition to Wellington, which boasts the best in equestrian competition during the winter show season.

As a highly respected philanthropist and horsewoman, McCullough also focused the weekend on giving back to two charities that are close to her heart — the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches and the Equus Foundation.

The Young Singers of the Palm Beaches is an award-winning community children’s choir based at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. The group put on an exciting show during Saturday’s intermission and gave exhibitors a taste of the set list for their upcoming performance at the Kravis Center in May featuring familiar Broadway tunes.

“Being able to work with Victoria, what comes through to me is her love of animals and her love of children,” said Shawn Berry, Young Singers co-founder and artistic director. “It’s obviously evident in what she does with her foundation, but also through her actions.”

He was honored to be involved with the Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show. “We’re finding more and more these days that boys and girls need more ways to connect,” Berry said. “Victoria sees the pride on their faces and watches the boys and girls grow from year to year when she attends our concerts. So, for Young Singers, I feel very, very fortunate that we have made a connection with her.”

The Equus Foundation is the only national charity fully dedicated to ensuring the welfare of America’s horses and fostering the bond between humans and equines. By focusing its efforts on empowering equine charities, inspiring horse lovers and educating the public, the foundation’s mission is to protect America’s equines and strengthen the connection between horses and people.

“The Equus Foundation is honored and thrilled to have been chosen as a beneficiary of the inaugural Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show in Wellington by renowned equine advocate Victoria McCullough,” Equus Foundation Vice President of Engagement Valerie Angeli said. “Victoria is not only a lifelong, expert horsewoman, and now owner of world champion competition Clydesdales, but there is no one more committed to the welfare and rescue of America’s horses.”

Equus Foundation representatives were in the spotlight during Sunday’s intermission, including Angeli along with EquuStars Jessica Springsteen and Clementine Goutal. The three brought rescued mini pony Teddy, now owned by Georgina Bloomberg, as a shining example of how a horse or pony in need can find a second chance.

The Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show invited exhibitors to learn about a sport that was new to many of them. With classes ranging from the Classic Eight-Horse Hitch to the Unicorn Hitch, the teamwork and versatility of gentle giants were on display as they pulled both four-wheel wagons and two-wheel carts in teams of two, four, six and eight. Talented female drivers were showcased with two classes dedicated to women drivers and their hitches. The Express Ranches team of Percherons had a successful weekend, winning the Ladies Cart class as well as the Classic Six-Horse Hitch and Eight-Horse Hitch classes. Zubrod Percherons were another strong force, earning the blue in the Percheron Six-Horse Hitch, the Four-Horse Hitch and the Unicorn Hitch classes.

The dedication of each team was on display through the beautifully adorned manes and tails of their horses, hitched with polished tack to each team’s unique wagon. Braided into their manes and tails were special draft horse accessories that featured mane rolls matched to the team colors, along with shiny flights that made each horse look uniform to the next. The feeling of family and community was apparent, bringing the crowd together to celebrate the passion and love for these gentle giants.

“I am overjoyed at the response from the weekend and that everyone felt it was wholesome, relaxing and family orientated,” McCullough said. “It was so exciting for everyone to get to experience something different in Wellington, and it makes me happy that everyone involved enjoyed it.”

McCullough was happy to help support the Equus Foundation and the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches. “I am so proud to have had them involved with the weekend,” she said. “I am also so thankful for the generous support of our sponsors. It was a beautiful collaboration from the community, and everyone wanted to help, which is greatly appreciated.”

The Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show would not have been possible without the generous support of Express Ranches, Hunting Creek Farm, Anderson Farms, Burger Barn, and Frank and Monica McCourt, who donated their stunning equestrian estate, which is currently offered for sale. McCullough looks forward to welcoming the draft teams back next year to Wellington and making the event a prominent stop on the calendar.

Visit www.naclassicseries.com to learn more about the North American Six-Horse Hitch Classic Series.

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Kids, Charity, Community & Golf A Winning Foursome For Wellington’s Martinez Family

Kids, Charity, Community & Golf A Winning Foursome For  Wellington’s Martinez Family

For Wellington residents Gil and Jennifer Martinez, supporting the nonprofit organization Clinics Can Help (CCH) and its upcoming sixth annual Golf Classic on April 26 at the Wellington National Golf Club has become a family affair.

The tournament will benefit CCH’s Kinder Project, which provides free medical equipment and supplies to families with children who have special needs and serious medical conditions.

Little did Gil and Jennifer know when they first got involved with the local nonprofit that it would someday help two members of their own family and engage the entire Martinez clan, including Gil’s father, retired Major League Baseball player Dennis Martinez.

Jennifer first met Owen O’Neill, the founder and CEO of Clinics Can Help, when both worked at Hospice of Palm Beach County in the early 2000s. Jennifer worked in communications, and Owen served as a registered nurse.

It was while Owen was providing end-of-life care that the spark of an idea for Clinics Can Help first ignited. He became keenly aware of the painful reminder home medical equipment represented to families after a loved one had passed. To alleviate his clients’ distress and help them unload the equipment that no one else would take, Owen began hauling hospital beds, wheelchairs and nebulizers in his pickup truck and storing them in his garage.

He quickly discovered that the items were a godsend to local clinics for the underserved. Their clients needed medical equipment for at-home care but were uninsured and could not afford to buy them on their own. Soon, word got out about the hospice nurse offering free equipment, and demand skyrocketed. Owen realized he had uncovered a significant unmet need in Palm Beach County. By 2005, he saw the opportunity to help thousands of people by turning his idea into a charity called Clinics Can Help.

Thanks to funding from local foundations and donors, Clinics Can Help has grown and expanded to a 5,000-square-foot facility in West Palm Beach and six staff members. In the last 10 years, the agency has helped 10,120 clients and donated more than $5 million worth of medical equipment and supplies. In Wellington alone, 343 children and adults have received medical equipment and supplies during the last five years.

Clinics Can Help is the only organization of its kind in Florida and one of the largest in the U.S. providing free durable medical equipment to help people with mobility challenges.

Jennifer, now the president of her own PR firm, JLM Communications, has supported Owen every step of the way by helping him share CCH’s story with the community. She never thought she and Gil would someday turn to the charity to help their own family.

In 2011, their nephew Sebastian suffered a devastating spinal stroke at the age of two that left him partially paralyzed from the waist down. Gil’s brother Dennis and his wife Maritza did everything they could for their little boy. A long-awaited visit to Shriners Hospital for Children finally became a reality, but a wheelchair would help Sebastian’s trip tremendously.

That’s when CCH sprung to action. They provided a wheelchair that was perfect for Sebastian’s needs, tailored for his size and capabilities. To Gil and his family, the wheelchair represented so much more than a piece of equipment — it meant hope, dignity and more independence for Sebastian.

“Remembering some of Sebastian’s challenges, it boosted his confidence and mental state — it affected all of us,” Gil said. “He’s 10 now, and to see his excitement about having his own wheelchair blew me away. He has such great spirit.”

The impact that CCH had on Sebastian drew Gil into becoming an active volunteer as a member of the golf tournament committee. His other family members have all supported the event, helping it raise more than $100,000 over the last five years. But it was Gil’s father who added to the celebrity element that golf great Dana Quigley had created. By attending and bringing along other pros, including fellow Venezuelan player Andrés Galarraga, they were helping to generate added awareness and funds to support the grassroots organization.

“My dad is a huge advocate for kids, education and sports,” Gil said. “Any time he has the opportunity to help, he’s all for it. After seeing what CCH did for Sebastian, he’s even more grateful to be involved.”

Gil is excited to bring the tournament to his hometown of Wellington for the first time. He sees the course as a major driver for attendance and funding because of its exclusivity, course design by the legendary Johnny Miller, and its ranking as one of the nation’s Top 75 Private Golf Courses by Golf Digest.

Also sure to draw attention and players is CBS 12 morning anchor Matt Lincoln, who is serving as this year’s event chair, and longtime CCH supporter Quigley, who is serving as honorary chair. The tournament features a 1 p.m. shotgun start, prizes for closest to the pin, longest drive, a putting contest and hole in one. Following the game, players and attendees are invited to enjoy delicious food, a silent auction and an awards ceremony.

“We have great leaders at the helm of this year’s annual Golf Classic,” Owen said. “Our committee and our new location at Wellington National have put our tournament on the map. We expect to have a very successful event to raise funds for the children of our community.”

More than 6,200 children in Palm Beach County live with special needs, and that doesn’t include those who are stricken with a serious illness or are involved in accidents. With his prior training as a nurse, Owen understands just how important the right medical equipment is to help a child improve mobility.

“Items like adaptive strollers can make all the difference in allowing a child with cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy the chance to ride the bus, see his classmates at eye level and participate in schoolyard activities,” Owen said. “We believe that no matter what their abilities, kids should be able to just be kids.”

The Clinics Can Help sixth annual Golf Classic will be held at the Wellington National Golf Club (400 Binks Forest Drive, Wellington) on Friday, April 26 with a 1 p.m. shotgun start. For more information, call (561) 640-2995 or visit www.clinicscanhelp.org.

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