MIAMI, Fla. — It was a weekend that exceeded expectations as a sold-out group of 160 exceptional student riders from grades 8 to 12 traveled from as far away as Hawaii to participate in the College Preparatory Invitational (CPI) at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in Palm Beach, Fla.  

Two local riders came home with divisional high point titles.

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Anne Russo, of Cranford, N.J. was the intermediate division champion and Hannah Smith, of Bronx, N.Y. was the novice winner.

According to her CPI resume: Russo, who will graduate in June, 2019 has been riding for seven years. She started in the equitation and hunters and later also started competing in jumpers, eventing, and dressage. “At a young age, I had the privilege of working with many different types of horses from rescues to OTTBs alongside my trainer, Alexis Pornovets. Then at 13, I trained my first project on my own, a pony with a stubborn streak, and nasty buck. After a few momths under my training, he is now teaching kids to canter, and showing in Mini and Short stirrup with young riders. I show the pony at novice level in eventing, and have jumped him up to 3'6, despite him only standing 13 hands. I have gotten the opportunity to ride with several famous riders such as Marilyn Payne, Gigi Nutter, Lucinda Green, Nona Garson and am currently a working student for Nona Garson at the Ridge Farm,” she wrote.

She plans to study business management in college.

Smith is also the class of 2019.

The weekend was packed with activities including a mounted clinic; a horsemanship practicum, educational lectures, a College Fair and an IHSA style horse show judged by the legendary Kip Rosenthal.

Judge Kip Rosenthal made certain that student riders had an educational experience as she met with riders to answer questions at the end of each day.  She allowed riders to view her Judge’s cards and even provided a poster with a legend to explain her scorecard shorthand.

CPI Florida course designer Sherry Cashman of West Point incorporated tests in the courses that included a halt and a trot fence in some divisions.

Overall points were tallied at the end of each division and High Point Riders were determined. Each of the class winners received gift certificates from Equestrian Team Apparel and Southern Equestrian and Divisional High Point Riders received a gift certificate from Dover Saddlery.

At the start of the weekend all CPI competitors were placed on one of eight teams for the inaugural Team Challenge sponsored by GGT Footing.

CPI Team Challenge

Designed to mimic the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) model of team competition, riders participating in the CPI Team Challenge presented by GGT Footing were placed on teams and designated point riders had their performance tracked on a special event leaderboard throughout the weekend of competition. It was Yellow Team who emerged victorious on Sunday after earning 32 points - the most overall.

Cynthia Brewster Keating was on hand to award special ribbons and GGT saddle pads for the Team Challenge winners.

College Fair

The CPI College Fair featured more than 30 colleges and universities who sent representatives from their admissions and equestrian programs to meet with student riders and share information about their schools.

CPI Mounted Clinic

The young riders had an opportunity to participate in a mounted clinic with instruction by Michael Dowling of Centenary University on Friday. Dowling worked with the students on their equitation, catch riding skills and techniques for adjusting strides. During the jumping phase of the clinic, riders had the opportunity to break down courses that included rollbacks and bending lines.

Educational Seminars

IHSA Founder and Executive Director Bob Cacchione delivered an educational lecture and was on-hand over the weekend to meet student riders and talk to them about the collegiate competition organization, now in its 51st year.

Piper Klemm, Publisher of popular magazine The Plaid Horse gave a terrific interactive presentation about seeking and maximizing entrepreneurial opportunities.

Andrew Ryback of Andrew Ryback Photography discussed careers in the equestrian industry and Randi C. Heathman, author of Horses for Courses: The Definitive Guidebook for the Prospective College Equestrian, offered her expert advice for choosing the right school. 

CPI President Lindsay Martin issued a welcome, thanking sponsors, her staff and the horse providers.  She addressed the student riders with her characteristic enthusiasm and encouragement, wishing them a great weekend of learning and competition. Martin was thrilled to unveil the date and location for a brand new CPI event, The College Spotlight, which will be held Sept. 28-30 at Albion College, in Albion, Michigan.

Always looking forward, she announced that the next CPI event will be held on Sept. 15 -16 at The Ridge in Asbury, N.J.. More information is available on the CPI Web site.

About the College Preparatory Invitational

The CPI is a three-day event designed to educate student riders about the different formats of college equestrian competitions and provide riders with resources to help them create their desired college equestrian experience. Riders in grades 8 through 12 have a chance to win scholarships in hunt seat equitation competition and participate in educational presentations throughout the event. In an effort to encourage academic excellence and embed social integrity as a lifelong commitment to the equestrian sport, the CPI Scholarship and Educational Fund also awards riders the opportunity to win scholarships for academics and community service. To learn more about the CPI, please visit

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Facebook: @CPIHorseShow

Instagram: cpi_horseshow

Twitter: @CPIHorseShow

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