Terri Kane took an idea she imported from Europe to spread breast cancer awareness and ended up coloring the US Dressage Finals pink.
Several years ago, horse show organizers in Odense, Denmark, chose to highlight breast cancer awareness month by providing pink polo wraps to the horses in the awards ceremonies at the dressage show.
“It was so cool,” said Kane, the co-owner of Diamante Farms with her daughter Devon. “I wanted to do that here!”
Diamante Farms is located in Wellington, Florida, and since the United States Dressage Federation’s Region 3 Championships were held in South Florida and Diamante Farms was sponsoring the Grand Prix classes, Kane asked show management if she could provide pink polo wraps for the Grand Prix awards ceremonies. They agreed.
“People were very moved by it,” Kane said.
Kristy Lund, a small animal vet in the South Florida area, won several classes at the regional championships and loved the pink polo wrap idea. As she prepared to head to the 2017 US Dressage Finals in Kentucky, she Facebook messaged Kane and asked if she could take the pink polo wrap idea to finals.
“When she told me she was taking my idea to championships, it made me cry,” Kane said. “It was cool that it went farther and I was really excited about it. Several years ago, I lost a cousin to breast cancer. She left behind three young children. I wanted to do it for her and all of my friends and family who are survivors.”
Lund and her friends from Region 3 made sure that every horse from the region in the awards ceremonies at championships wore pink polo wraps.
“Every awards ceremony actually had at least one rider with pink wraps on,” she said.
Additionally, announcer Nicho Meredith made sure to remind spectators the reason for the wraps at every ceremony.
It turned out that Lund and Gaffney placed fifth and six in the Grand Prix Freestyle at finals and, instead of going single file in the awards ceremony, they chose to ride side-by-side.“What’s even more interesting is that I was approached several years ago about my Grand Prix horse I had done everything with,” Lund said. “The trainer said she had a client who was a Stage IV breast cancer survivor and on her bucket list was to earn her gold medal. She asked if I would be willing to lease my horse to her. The rider is a veterinarian like me, Dr. Jeni Gaffney. Fabio is a sensitive horse but they were a very good match.”
Both of the horses had been ridden by Lund’s trainer, John Zopatti, in the Challenge of the Americas, a fund-raiser for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in which top trainers compete in intricate quadrilles set to music. Zopatti and Betsy Steiner traditionally hold hands when they are paired side-by-side in the quadrilles, so Lund on Akvavit and Gaffney on Fabio held hands going down the long side of the arena during the Grand Prix Freestyle awards.
“It was symbolic,” she said. “She is so grateful for having that horse and she ended up going to CDIs at Dressage at Devon with it and it was her third year to go to finals. She went way beyond just getting that gold medal.”
Lund won several classes at finals, but what she remembers most about the November event is riding side-by-side with Gafney in the awards ceremony.
“Everybody has been touched with somebody in their life who has had breast cancer,” Kane said. “That was my main reason to do this—to celebrate those lives that are still here and to bring awareness that breast cancer still kills women every day.”