Girls compete in 6-week equestrian show

Chronicle Staff

Mavis Spencer ’09 and Paris Sellon ‘10 left school to compete for six weeks in the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. The competition offers more than $3 million in prize money to competitors from all over the world.

The festival provides exposure in the highest quality of competition, Spencer said. Spencer will participate in  hunter, jumper, and equitation events.

“Hunter is judged on the horse, how they jump, move and equitation is on position and how well you ride,”  Spencer said.

Sellon and Spencer are sharing a condo near the festival with Sellon’s mother. The girls have been riding at the same barn, Meadow Grove, since Sellon was 10.

“Having her here with me definitely makes it much easier to adjust, and she’s fun to have around,” said Sellon.

Although Sellon is unsure where riding will take her, Spencer plans to ride in college and professionally. Both athletes expressed the hope that this opportunity could possibly lead to a place on the 2012 Olympic team.

“The selection trials to make the team are [at the festival] this year, so I’ll have a better idea of what I’m up against,” Spencer said.

The team consists of five riders, including one alternate.

Sellon credits a new independent learning system for the ability to finally leave school for the competition. She wanted to participate since she began visiting the festival, but balancing the school curriculum with international competition was daunting.

However, with a tutor who teaches two classes of each subject every week, she has finally been able to compete.

Sellon will not return to school but will instead continue schooling with private tutors. Her home schooling is part of the Oak Meadow program, which grades her tests and formats her curriculum.
Spencer is continuing with the school curriculum during the six weeks she is away, and plans to return for fourth quarter.

She keeps up with the school’s courses and will take regular tests with her tutor, who is working with Harvard-Westlake.