On Sunday, September 8, we kicked of the USPA Rossmore Cup and honored our military, veterans, and first responders with a special ceremony. We warmly welcomed all military families, veteran support groups and charities who work hard to support our veterans in the community. Among them were Horses Joining Forces, a therapeutic riding program for veterans with PTSD. President of Horses Joining Forces, Former Major Glenn Cunningham, described the program and it’s benefits, giving the audience great insight what horses can do for our mind, body and heart.
Tens of thousands of our young combat veterans are unemployed, underemployed, homeless, in support programs, and or despondent due on no small part to the cause and effects of PTSD and combat trauma. Vets 360 invites recently separated combat veterans and their families into an on-going program of engagement, education, employment, and healing. Their goal is to help them understand that asking for support is a sign of strength… NOT an inability to cope. We were thrilled to have Vets 360 involved with our annual Salute to Military event.
The day kicked off with a match between Twin Palms/San Fernando and Star Meadow/Monteverde. Diego Velarde started off hot, leading Twin Palms/San Fernando with 3 goals in the first chukker and2 more in the second. Gaston VonWernich also put a couple through in the first and fourth chukkers. Star Meadow/Monteverde started slowly, building momentum in the third chukker. At half time, the score was 5 to 4, Twin Palms/San Fernando in the lead. In the fourth chukker, Graham Bray scored two and Martin Ravina one for Star Meadow/Monteverde. In the 5th chukker, they did the same: Bray with two, Ravina with one. Twin Palms/San Fernando fell back in the second half to play defense. They weren’t able to score on the opposing team in the 5th and 6th chukkers. Star Meadow/Monteverde came out victorious, 11 to 6.
During intermission the Poway Valley Vaulters, consisting of 6 girls, 2 trainers and a 13-year old Percheron/Welsh pony, showed us their talents. Equestrian Vaulting is a unique International sport that combines elements of gymnastics and dance on the back of a moving horse. And is a wonderful and fun way to develop coordination, balance, strength, flexibility, teamwork, harmony and creativity.
Vaulters of all ages and abilities showcase their talents in compulsory movements and choreographed freestyle routines set to music, with up to 3 vaulters on the horse at a time. Vaulting’s history is said to have begun thousands of years ago in ancient Minoa as ‘bull vaulting’. In fact, every horse culture around the world practices a variation of this sport. The sport’s most modern ancestor was as a cavalry training tool for horse-mounted soldiers, and it was also a recognized Olympic sport in the early 20th century. It is one of the FEI’s 8 recognized sports, and is a regular feature of the World Equestrian Games.
Our Salute to Military Ceremony was led by emcee and polo announcer Steve Lewandowski. Steve welcomed Glenn Cunningham, president of Horses Joining Forces on to the field to speak about the therapeutic riding program and services for veterans with PTSD. A representative from Congressman Duncan Hunter’s office presented certificates to many groups and people who made the event possible, and also gave a special flag to Steve Lewandowski for his exceptional effort during the planning of this event, and also to the San Diego Polo Club for hosting the event. These special flags were once flown above the capital and considered a honorable gift. Veterans and active military were invited on to the field for the recognition ceremony.
Team Hanalei Bay and Team Adeptus battled it out on field one in front of the crowd. Ashton Wolf, who fell and had to get face stitches on Friday afternoon, scored the first goal of the match for Hanalei Bay, followed by teammates Mariano Fassetta and David Samaniego. Jesse Bray and Dan Juarez of Adeptus scored one each in the second chukker and an additional 3 in the third chukker. By half time, the game was tied up 5 to 5.
Krista Bonaguidi and Ashton Wolf scored for Hanalei Bay in the 4th chukker, and Jim Wright was able to score one for Adeptus. Jesse Bray scored 2 in the 5th chukker and teammate, Dan Juarez scored another for Adeptus. Mariano Fassetta was able to get through Adeptus‘ defense to score two for Hanalei Bay in the 5th and 6th chukker, but it was Dan Juarez’s last goal that lead Adeptus to victory.
Trophies were presented by the nieces of founding member and owner of Daou Vineyards, Georges Daou.