By Jan Westmark-Allan
When 14-year-old Jack Lube created his video for the Sidelines Magazine Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) Exclusive Showing Vacation Contest, he had no idea that it would change his life. The Orlando, Florida rider had never competed at WEF or any rated show, but it was definitely a dream he had in mind when he made his video.
The Sidelines WEF contest gave one rider the chance to compete in Wellington, Florida, at the world-renown show, all expenses paid. Riders from all across North America sent in videos and wrote essays for the contest, but it was Jack who ultimately captured the prize.
Jack was thrilled when he learned he was the grand prize winner and said the countdown to week 11 of WEF, the week he would show, was a long one. Jack, his sister Claire and mom Kelly made the trip to South Florida. As part of the winning package, Jack and his family stayed at the beautiful Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach, near Worth Avenue – on the same weekend that movie star and musician Queen Latifah stayed at the luxury hotel.
Jack had the opportunity to ride and train with Sean Jones of the Palm Beach Riding Academy and compete in the Low Children’s Hunters and the 12-14 Equitation on a gorgeous bay gelding named DaVinci, owned by Sean and his wife Christina. “Jack is a talented young man and has a tremendous natural feel for a horse. But, more importantly, he has a sincere hunger for knowledge and a true desire to excel in this sport,” Sean said.
“It would be a dream come true to show at an A-rated show,” Jack said, on the video he submitted for the contest. “I would love to meet with top trainers in the country such as Missy Clark, Frank Madden and George Morris himself.”
Dreams do come true, because Jack’s whirlwind weekend included meeting a “who’s who” of famous riders and trainers, from George Morris and Reed Kessler to McLain Ward, Frank Madden, Missy Clark and Ben Maher. Jack not only had the opportunity to meet all of these riders and trainers, but appeared on Sidelines TV with George Morris. Reed Kessler invited Jack and his family to the ingate after competing in the $100,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Final. (Reed was fourth in the class.)
Thanks to Jack’s mother and her unwavering support, Jack has been riding for three years, competes on an Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) team and his long-term goals include competing in the Big Equitation classes. Prior to competing at WEF, however, Jack’s showing was limited to competing at local shows on a pony his mom bought for his sister off of Craigslist. She also bought a used saddle and used jacket for Jack from Craigslist.
While Jack knew his prize package offered a great weekend, he was shocked at the many “additional perks” included. On his first day at the show, he was treated to a complete new outfit, including boots, breeches, show shirt, show coat, thanks to Ariat, Hadfield’s and Beval, as well as a new Charles Owen helmet. The shopping spree wrapped up at Voltaire Design, where owner Brice Goguet presented the up-and-coming young rider with a brand new saddle.
Meg Krueger, Vice President of Sales & Sponsorship for Equestrian Sport Productions, the company that produces WEF, was equally thankful to have helped provide Jack with a life-changing experience. “It was wonderful to see how Jack’s confidence built as the weekend progressed. I hope he will be inspired by these great memories and experiences to continue building his riding career,” Meg said. “I am also so very thankful for our sponsors for making this such a once in a lifetime opportunity for him to shine.”
Jack added, “I was really excited when I got all the wonderful surprise gifts. The clothes and the saddle were so unexpected. I enjoyed working with Sean Jones and loved riding DaVinci. Showing and winning two ribbons was pretty cool. Also, meeting George Morris, Frank Madden, Reed Kessler and numerous other famous people. The hotel was awesome and the VIP table was great to watch the grand prix and equitation classes. The entire weekend was so much fun!”
Jack’s mom echoed her son’s statement, “It was truly a dream. Jack works so hard and takes his riding seriously. It was amazing to see him looking so handsome in his new show clothes, beautiful Voltaire Saddle and riding an incredibly fancy horse. But, the best part was seeing the huge smile on his face when he finished his courses. It made me so proud to see his hard work paying off. The entire weekend was like a fairytale. It was truly magical. I think what was most touching about the entire weekend was the kindness that everyone showed us. Every person we met along the way was so friendly and seemed so happy and excited to have us experience a weekend at WEF. The people were just amazing. I still get teary-eyed thinking about how kind and generous everyone was.”
Suffice it to say, many tears were shed throughout the weekend and through it all Jack remained humble and thankful – a true testament to his attitude that helped him win the contest in the first place. “Thank you to everyone involved for this wonderful experience. It was a dream come true to show at WEF,” Jack said.