WELLINGTON, FL - February 7, 2011 - Equestrians from all disciplines gathered on Friday, February 4, 2011, to enjoy the Equestrian Idol Musical Talent Show presented by Tiffany & Co. Palm Beach Gardens where the top prize of the evening was awarded to Robert Orthwein. Six talented performers vied for the crown, but Orthwein's unique and incredible performance won over the judges to earn him the 2011 title. Equestrian Idol, co-chaired by Catherine Herman and Patricia Keenan, was the first event to be held in the "new" Grande Pavilion at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. Guests had the opportunity to enjoy cutting edge culinary catering trends and the latest in food styling by the newly formed International Polo Club Catering Company.
The EQUUS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation that seeks to educate the public on the significant impact of horses in our everyday lives and award grants to charities that use the horse for the benefit of the public, promote horse welfare, and advance the equestrian sport. The Foundation has awarded over $1.5 million in grants, thanks almost entirely to events like Equestrian Idol.
Mason Phelps, Jr. emceed the 5th year of the event, kicking things off by thanking everyone for attending and acknowledging the many wonderful sponsors. In addition to title sponsor Tiffany & Co. Palm Beach Gardens, other generous sponsors include Buick and GMC, the Official Vehicle Sponsor of The EQUUS Foundation. Gold Medal sponsors include: Mr. & Mrs. Michael Carpenter, the Ann T. D'Addario Family Foundation, Equestrian Sport Productions, Britta Lippert and Caroline Moran. Silver Medal sponsors include: Jennifer Burger & Meredith Lipke, and Visse Wedell. Bronze Medal sponsors include: the Adikes-Hill Family Foundation, Patricia Adikes-Hill & Rosalind Schaefer, Bobbie & Derek Braun & Split Rock Farm, Jane Forbes Clark, Louisburg Farm, Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Orthwein, Chris & Jessica Pasmore, Quiet Corner Farm, the Steeple Chase Farm Foundation, and Jenny Wren Sutton
The evening's live auction featured a polo lesson with Kris Kampsen and Brandon Phillips, a dog training session with Companion Dogs and Philip Levine, a woman's watch from Tiffany & Co, a man's watch from Tiffany & Co, and finally a beautiful diamond pendant also from the evening's title sponsor Tiffany & Co.
Following a new format for 2011, three former Idol winners teamed up with this year's contestants for some incredible collaborative performances. To kick off the show, Jenna Wyatt and 2010 Idol winner Brian Lookabill took the stage to perform the Rolling Stones, "Honky Tonk Women," followed by 2008 Idol winner Ki-Juan Minors and Teaghan James for Lady Gaga's, "Just Dance." Taylor Blauweiss, the first Idol, was next, pairing with Susan Muench to sing Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart". Lookabill took the stage again, this time with Casey Hodges to sing Sugarland's "Stand Up". Ki-Juan Minors was up next with Robert Orthwein. The two got the crowd on their feet with their version of Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Run This Town". Taylor Blauweiss returned with Hilary Dobbs to sing Katy Perry's "Waking Up in Vegas". Three contestants moved to the finals, and were voted on by the audience's live texting.
This year's judges included the three former idol contestants, Taylor Blauweiss, Brian Lookabill and Ki-Juan Minors. Another new feature this year included one judge selected from the audience, where eleven-year-old Gabriella Duval won the "Join The Judges" raffle.
Of the six contestants vying for the title of 2011's Equestrian Idol, only three were called back for the final round from the crowd. Casey Hodges, Jenna Wyatt and Robert Orthwein were selected to perform during round two of the night's competition.
Casey Hodges was first to compete, singing Adele's, "To Make You Feel My Love". Jenna Wyatt put all of her cards on the table, singing Martina McBride's, "Broken Wing", which showcased her talent and range of voice. However, Robert Orthwein dominated the judges and the crowd with his performance of Cage of the Elephant's, "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked".
Ki-Juan Minors sang his comment to Orthwein, singing, "They ain't got nothin' on you, ain't got nothing on you!" Blauweiss noted, "That was great entertainment, you played to the crowd and everyone loved it!" Gabriella Duvall added, "I want to see you rap against Eminem!" Brian Lookabill noted, "You seemed so comfortable with that song, it really fit you. You had the crowd going and you nailed it!"
At the end of the night it was Robert Orthwein who was named the 2011 Equestrian Idol. "I have been rapping since I was about 18, and I'm 26 now," he commented. "I wasn't sure when I was in school if I wanted to do music or horses, and I was in a band in college. I'm glad I stuck with the horses, but this was really fun for me. I performed a lot of shows in college, and liked it but my passion was always for the horses too. I was really nervous tonight, especially since I had to go last in the second round. I didn't think everyone was going to be this good, but this is such a great event and so much fun. I'm excited to win, and thankful to Lynn Coakley, the President of The EQUUS Foundation for asking me to participate this year."
Robert Orthwein is a three-goal polo player who competes at the International Polo Club Palm Beach and is based out of the Port Mayaca Polo Club in Okeechobee, FL. The Orthwein family has been playing polo for three generations and has been intimately involved in developing polo in south Florida.
"I've ridden my whole life, and as a horseman I really wanted to help out the cause since EQUUS is such a great foundation," stated Orthwein. "They do incredible work for horses and the community all over the United States, so for me to rap and do something fun like this to help them out is great all the way around. Thanks to EQUUS for this opportunity and for all that they do for the horse community."
For additional information on The EQUUS Foundation, Inc., visit the EQUUS website at www.equusfoundation.org or contact The EQUUS Foundation, Inc., telephone (203) 259-1550, email email@example.com.
Catherine Herman, Robert Orthwein, Patricia Keenan, and Rebecca Brewer Photo Credit: Alyson Sanderford/PMG. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.