Crimson Acres’ Glory Riders shine at Equine Affaire

  • The Glory Riders, from left, Levi Toto riding Kodiak, Abby Istnick on Tulsa, Madelyn Robertson on Jake, Mady Hurlburt on Rohan, Maura Gannon on Bambi, Alexia Matuszko on Twilight, Jillian Bastine on Addie, Jaimelee Matuszko on Spittin, Addie Chinian on Harper, Lizzy Hardy on Indy and Arial Anderson on Rose. Standing is coach Philip Whitmore.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Members of the Crimson Acres Glory Riders of Orange perform their popular Patriotic Drill during the Fantasia show at the Equine Affaire in Springfield earlier this month. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Addie Chinian of the Crimson Acres Glory Riders and her mount, Harper, presented the American Flag during the singing of the National Anthem to open the Fantasia show at the Equine Affaire in Springfield earlier this month. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/28/2019 2:05:18 AM

ORANGE — The Glory Riders of Crimson Acres equestrian center recently entertained 6,000 people for three nights during a rare opportunity to perform next to top equine professionals from around the country.

The drill team of advanced riders was asked to perform Nov. 7 through Nov. 9 in the Fantasia show at the Equine Affaire in Springfield.

According to Glory Riders coach Sandy Whitmore, the four-day event is “sort of a home show, only it’s for the horse community with clinics and hundreds of vendors.”

Fantasia, “the musical celebration of the horse,” is performed for three nights with some of the top names in the U.S. and other countries, and tickets sell out easily, Whitmore said.

Her son, Philip Whitmore, has been the Crimson Acres Glory Riders’ assistant coach for five years.

“We do choreography using the whole arena and we do a lot competitions,” he said of the drill team. “It’s a team event where you’re judged based on the neatness of it and horsemanship, riding in a ring to music.”

He said the Glory Riders were asked to participate in the Fantasia show.

“We’ve done competitions and demonstrations locally,” Sandy Whitmore said. “The farthest we have traveled to is Alexandria, Kentucky in a national competition. This is the first time we were ever asked to go at this level.”

The Glory Riders, 11 of them with one substitute, range in age from 14 to 40 and are from Orange, Athol, Petersham, Pepperell, Fitchburg, Lancaster and other towns.

The riders are Levi Toto (riding Kodiak), Abby Istnick (Tulsa), Madelyn Robertson (Jake), Mady Hurlburt (Rohan), Maura Gannon (Bambi), Alexia Matuszko (Twilight), Jillian Bastine (Addie), Jaimelee Matuszko (Spittin), Addie Chinian (Harper), Lizzy Hardy (Indy) and Arial Anderson (Rose).

Although the Glory Riders did not receive payment for their performance in Fantasia, they were provided with camper sites, hotels and housing for their horses.

“It’s an honor in itself to be asked,” Sandy Whitmore said.

Sandy Whitmore, who will turn 70 in December and received her first horse at age 13, said they started a drill team about 25 years ago as an extra activity for the farm. She said last year the Glory Riders rode in four drills and won them all, and she thinks that’s how the Fantasia organizers heard about them.

Philip Whitmore said the team was also picked to put on a three-minute presentation to open Fantasia and had 30 minutes to practice. A member of the Glory Riders, Addie Chinian, presented the American flag as someone sang the National Anthem. The team presented the opening act and the main performance on all three nights of the event.

“We ride for God and country,” Philip Whitmore said. “Our music is patriotic and it was nice to see the reception of that.”

He described the ride as “eight minutes performing at a very fast speed with intertwining parts.” He said that like during a NASCAR race, a lot can go wrong.

Some of the team members are involved in school sports and had to commit to riding twice a week instead of the usual once a week to prepare for their Fantasia performance.

“There were a lot of sacrifices going into this,” Philip Whitmore said.

A lot of the people at Equine Affaire “were the Michael Jordan of the horse world,” he said, “at the top of their craft with very expensive horses under them.” He kept telling the team it might be the only time they’d have that opportunity in the spotlight, and said he can’t say enough about the teamwork of the Glory Riders.

“They rocked the house,” he said.

Videos and pictures of the Crimson Acres Glory Riders can be found on their Facebook page.


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