WELLINGTON, FL (WFLX) - Most teens don't spend their Saturday night representing their country in a World Cup, but these teens, competing in the Hollow Creek Farm Nations Cup at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, are far from ordinary.
"Every time after school, I ride until night," said Maria Mirabal from Venezuela. "You can't go to parties or stuff. You have to limit yourself for this sport."
Mirabal began riding at 3 years old. "When you go into the ring, you feel nervous a lot. But, then, you jump the first jump, and everything just goes away. It's you and your horse."
Mirabal, however, will have some competition from Nikki Walker and her team from Canada. "I competed with Yummy today [Saturday], and I have one other, and it's all been great so far."
It was all smiles for Walker making it obvious she did well in her first round. "I was clean, and Canada's in the lead right now."
Wellington's own Liza Finsness is on the USA team. She's hoping her experience thus far will lead her to the NCAA next year while attending college. "All last year, I did the young riders, and I did the high juniors. This year, we jumped into the grand prix," Finsness said. "It's a little more pressure. But, again, the young riders [class] is pressure because it's a team thing."
There was also another type of pressure in the air as Chip Lubeck with Little Smiles and Virginia Lang with WILD 95.5 were hoping to raise a lot of money for their charity, Little Smiles. "We are so excited because the folks at the International Equestrian Center invited us bring Jason from our morning show and have Jason do horseless jumping," said Lang. "For everyone that he clears, he makes $1,000, and it's all going to our charity, Little Smiles."
"We are all about the kids. We work with children, hospices, hospitals and shelters – anywhere where there is a nurse, a social worker," explained Lubeck. "We basically grant wishes for those children that they might need."
Wanting to get out of the cold, I stepped into The Gallery where I found the artist Josee Nadeau. "I'm mostly focused on commissions of doing people's horses. This is one of the largest equestrian centers in the world, so it's such an honor to be right across, 20 feet away, from the international arena. And the gallery to be the size of half a football field," said Josee.
She recently attended a fundraiser where she painted to live music. "It was unbelievable to have the sound of the violin play to a 95-piece symphony," she described. "I did two paintings, 8 feet by 8 feet, in one hour."
Headed back out to my red carpet, I met some girls who didn't seem to mind the cold. "We got face paint over there. We went to the pet zoo, went on the merry-go-round, go in the bouncy house, saw a magic show and got balloons," informed Sophia.
That's one way to wear the kids outs. "It's a great event. It's perfectly organized," said Eugenia. "The kids are having fun, adults. Everyone should be coming here to have fun."
You have until Saturday, March 30 to enjoy Saturday Night Lights at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
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