COMING SOON: Toys Are Given Away At Chiefland's
Distribution of Toys For Tots
USMC (Ret.) Sgt. Bill Cummings and his wife Maxine Cummings were some of the
volunteers whose family members also helped Tuesday (Dec. 17) in Trenton. The
Cummings couple were jined by many other volunteers who delivered gifts to more
than 400 children in Gilchrist County. For more photos and the whole story,
please visit the COMMUNITY
by Jeff M. Hardison
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Hours after the unmanned Chang'e 3 space probe touched down on the moon,
China's 'Jade Rabbit' moon rover began to explore the lunar soil this past
weekend. While this picture is not enlarged enough to see the Chinese robot, it
does show a view of the moon through an ornament on Hathaway Avenue (U.S. Alt.
17) in Bronson near the Dogan Cobb Municipal Building on Monday night (Dec. 16)
just before the start of the Bronson Town Council, which began at 7 p.m.
Colorful lighted ornaments decorate Hathaway Avenue, which is one of the main
roads through the seat of government for Levy County. As for the moon, China's
space program heralds it as becoming the third country to complete a lunar soft
landing - which does not damage the craft and the equipment it carries - after
the United States and the former Soviet Union. The first human-made object to
reach the surface of the Moon was the Soviet Union's Luna 2 mission, on Sept.
13, 1959. The United States' Apollo 11 mission marked the first manned mission
to land on the moon on July 20, 1969. There have been six manned U.S. landings
(between 1969 and 1972) and numerous unmanned landings on the moon. There were
no soft landings happening from 1976 until Dec. 14, when China touched down
with its vessel named for the mythical god of the moon, and its rover. The
actual full moon of December is tonight (Dec. 17). It will rise at 4:35 p.m.,
reaches fullness at 4:28 a.m. and sets at 7:16 a.m. EST, according to the U.S.
Naval Observatory. The full moon of December is also named the Cold Moon, the
Long Night Moon and the Moon Before Yule. In this photograph on the night
before it becomes full, the moon over Bronson on Monday night is tagged 'Highly
by Jeff M Hardison
Roofers are seen working on a house in Chiefland on Monday (Dec. 16). These men
and many other volunteered to help two families by repairing roofs without
Photo by Jeff M.
For the Story and More Photos
Please visit the COMMUNITY PAGE
N. American Endurance Ride
heralds a first for
Black Prong Equestrian Center
The splendor of the opening ceremonies is breathtaking.
by Bill Kilborn
By Jeff M. Hardison © Dec. 13, 2013
LEVY COUNTY -- For the first time in
recorded history, the countries of Canada, Mexico and the United States of
America have teams competing in a particular four-star FEI event at Black Prong
Equestrian Center, which is bordered by Goethe State Forest.
North American Endurance Team Challenge included about
80 registrations from an international field of riders.
Riders are participating individually and are on teams
from the United States (five teams), Canada (two teams), Mexico, Colombia,
Chili, Great Britain, Italy, Qatar and Romania. The opening ceremony was at 4
p.m. Wednesday (Dec. 11).
Among the most famous Canadian Endurance riders -- Nancy Beacon (left)
-- goes on a mission Friday afternoon (Dec. 13) as Alycin Hayes, a musician and
horse enthusiast from Gainesville, assists the organizer from Canada. Beacon
said the Canadians have been preparing for this ride since
Photo by Jeff M. Hardison
The ride started Friday Dec. 13, and the last rider
must be back by Saturday morning at 1 a.m.
All of the horses are thoroughly checked by veterinarians in addition
to being given water and a little rest during mandatory holds between loops.
The welfare of the horses is a primary consideration in the sport of endurance
Photo by Bill Kilborn
Helen Koehler, the ride organizer and the
essential founder of endurance rides in Goethe Forest, said the FEI event is
part of the U.S. Equestrian Federation's preparation for the World Equestrian
Games, which are slated to be in Normandy, France in 2014.
Kimberly Woolley riding Schakka Khan and Wendy Benns riding Flirt With
Fyre, both from Canada East Team.
Fédération Équestre Internationale (commonly known as
the FEI) or in English, the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, is
the organization that oversees international events like this. FEI headquarters
are in Switzerland.
The opening ceremony was led by Spanish Conquistador
re-enactors, a group of Florida cowboys and mounted Goethe State Forest
rangers, all on Florida Cracker Horses. This opening ceremony reflects part of
the Viva Florida 500 celebration in recognition of 500 years since Ponce de
Leon discovered Florida.
Koehler said she was glad to see the Cracker Horses
getting along with the horses used for the endurance ride.
Eric Rueter of Lenoir City, Tenn., accepts results from Jill Heppleston
of Jupiter, Fla., to post on the Leader Board.
Photo by Jeff
This endurance ride consists of a 100-mile journey through
15- and 20-mile loops in the Goethe State Forest with stops for refreshments
and health exams every loop. As one endurance enthusiast said, the welfare of
the horse is paramount.
The riders average a speed of about 14 m.p.h. during
the ride that started at 7 a.m. on Friday, and they must finish by 1 a.m. on
Saturday, 18 hours.
Some horses were taken out of the competition, because
after veterinarians tested them, the vets decided to take them out.
Many of the horses were not transported to the
Black Prong Equestrian Center from other countries. They were leased to be
ridden from United States interests by people representing those other
countries in the competition.
In addition to the United States, Canada and
Mexico as the North American competitors, riders who represented Great Britain,
Qatar, Romania, Italy, Colombia and Chile participated as individuals in the
Competitors and interested onlookers enjoyed a new
dimension. A giant leader board showed placement during the ride. Eric Rueter
of Lenoir, Tenn., designed the program to show how teams and individual riders
were performing in the ride.
Helping bring veteran riders and novices together from
the 15 Canadians, with 11 on Canada East and four on Canada West, was Nancy
Beacon – the first recipient ever of Endurance Canada’s All of Fame
Yvette Minton and Wendy MacCoubrey of Levy County are
also of Canada and they were among the riders. Bob Gielen of Levy County is a
rider representative of Levy County who was riding for Canada.
The big screen leader board
The top person who has been at the forefront of
bringing endurance riding into Mexico is Mary Jane Gagnier, said Robin Schadt
of Chicago, a member of the support team for Mexico’s riders. Not only is
Gagnier the organizer for this team, but she is a rider as well. She and her
son Gabriel Gagnier and Mariana Guzman are the riders for Mexico in this North
“Some people forget that Mexico is part of North
America,” Mary Jane Gagnier said.
Schadt said Gagnier has been tireless in her efforts
to have more Mexican riders participate in the sport of endurance rides.
All of the North Americans – from the United States,
Mexico and Canada appeared to be having fun while focusing like laser beams on
what needed to be done for the horses and riders.
Participants who arrived early before the Wednesday
opening ceremonies were treated to a trip to Cedar Key by the Levy County
Levy County Tourist Development Director Carol McQueen
said Koehler has brought this sport to Levy County.
“One of the most exciting things for me during the
opening ceremonies on Wednesday, “McQueen said, “was the number of
international visitors who are here for this event.”
This event is good for tourism, she added.
“I believe a lot of these people will be returning
here, not just for horses,” McQueen said. “This is their first experience of
North Florida. It gives them a different perspective of Florida. When people
from other countries think of Florida, they often picture only South Florida
with large attractions.
“For them to see the Goethe State Forest,” she added,
“with the hardwood trees, they are seeing nature at its best. Many of them
might be amazed that Florida is so diverse.”
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