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Lenore Threlkeld


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The Real Story: Seasoned and Sexy Amoeba Challenge at Poplar Place Farm

When EN heard about the Seasoned and Sexy Amoeba Challenge scheduled to debut at Poplar Place Farm’s February schooling show, we were amused and intrigued. Then we learned EN writer Leslie Threlkeld’s mother, Lenore Threlkeld, would be in attendance to deliver a large supply of liquid courage cheer for her friends. We armed her with a camera, fedora and a counterfeit press pass and, in the company of Chinch, sent her off to get the scoop. 

“So … do you come here often?”

Pictures have been posted, results tabulated and everyone has gone home. But the real story is about to be told. Launa DesPortes and Mikki Johansen have singlehandedly created an entirely new and powerful eventing community: the Seasoned and Sexy! 

The idea took hold on a Women & Wine ride (a wine tasting on horseback) hosted by Mikki Johansen at Big Bear Farm–an amoeba level three-phase for those 35 or over who hadn’t competed in forever and ever. And that was all it took. Launa offered the Seasoned and Sexy Amoeba Challenge at Poplar Place Farm’s first schooling show of the season this past weekend. Forty-four women and men accepted the challenge and decided to enter. 

Friday evening, the horses were presented during a formal jog to the Ground Jury of Kate May, Marjolein Geven, Billy Jackson and Susan McCoskey. Many of the riders were in costume; others dressed to the nines. Teams included the Foxy Mamas, Hot Flashes, Gone with the Winded, The Socialites and The Royal Dames. All horses were accepted. The Hot Flashes were the eventual best-scoring team, but let’s be real. Every rider there was a winner. 

Joan Keegan and Comet. Photo by Lenore Threlkeld.

The next day’s competition began at 8 a.m. sharp and from the beginning it was clear this was no ordinary group of competitors. The camaraderie, encouragement and support were palpable and extended to all from all. 

Not a single horse left the dressage arena too soon. Stadium was a joy to watch — who cared if you and your horse trotted, cantered or walked the course, carefully stepping over each jump? No one, that’s who. There was applause for all and there was more than one big grin and fist pump through the finish line. 

Heidi Platt and G-Five. Photo by Lenore Threlkeld.

Cross country was equally as exciting. And if you needed a bit of help finding your way around the course, there were supporters there to assist. Maybe the jump judges noticed; maybe they didn’t. 

Mikki observed many of the competitors already knew each other from long ago competitions or years of show parenting. But this time it was all about them. She said, “It gave me a chance to focus on myself and motivated me to get on a horse again. I’ve not been on a horse in 30 years.” This time, her daughter Mikensey served as groom and cheerleader.

Mikki Johansen getting ready for cross country. Photo via Facebook.

Carrie and Lydia Kennedy also experienced a total role reversal, with a twist! Lydia is a two-star rider and for years Carrie has been the horse show mom. Carrie had vowed to put more adventure in her life in 2018 and on what was pretty much a dare from Lydia, decided to enter this event. 

But first Carrie had to learn to ride. 

Beginning the first week in January, Carrie got started. Once a week, she would drive down to Poplar Place from Chattanooga and have an afternoon riding lesson with resident trainer Werner Geven, spend the night with Lydia, lesson in the morning and drive home. Her trusted mount was Subtle Dream Unveiled, whom Lydia competed to the one-star level years ago. For this show, Carrie was the competitor and Lydia was the support team. Carrie said, “I really enjoyed this. It was fun. Equestrians make it look easy and it is not.”

Carrie also won the internet with her elegant presentation at the jog:


The jog for the Sexy and Seasoned Amoeba Challenge at Poplar Place Farm!! SO MUCH FUN!!

Posted by Shelley Howerton Page on Friday, February 23, 2018

Launa and Mikki took this idea to the next level and decided to make it a benefit. All proceeds from the Seasoned and Sexy class — which totaled over $3,300 — would be donated charity. Begin Again Farms, a local equine rescue, fit into the theme. 

Rhonda Jackson, president of Begin Again Farms, Inc., was surprised and thrilled to be a part of this and said they were honored to be the first recipients chosen. Begin Again was on site with a booth and rescue volunteers to support the event and provide information about their mission. Many folks also donated feed and other items to the shelter. 

This new group of eventers are so motivated, energized and enthusiastic, there’s talk of an End of Year Championship. There is no doubt this event has inspired many who never thought they would compete again, including yours truly. To quote Valerie Little, who had never done a three phase, “I completed it. I’m pretty proud!” So, thank you, Launa and Mikki.  Thank you very much!