Marquis Farrier Service
2003 State Champions

“The Arcadia Whip Crackers”

Drilling Up  “Championship” Attention

for Desoto County!


Saturday November 15th and 16th of 2003 may have been an ordinary day in Arcadia but for a group of six horseback riders Mike Marquis, Karen Coleman- Triana, Emily Anderson 12, Kortney Norris 14, Missy Darr 15, and Kyla Zahorniak 15 and their” Ground Crew” the butterflies were swarming!

The Arcadia Whip Crackers a local Mounted Drill Team made up of six riders from Desoto and Charlotte County were at their State Competition at the Florida State Fair Grounds in Tampa, Florida. We have been working hard all year to get to the “Big Dance” said Mike Marquis head coach for the Whip Crackers, and you know what “…WE DANCED! “

The Team came home with the Championship Trophy in the Open Division! This was the big one to win said Marquis; we went up against the best in the state. A total of 5 teams competed in the open division including last year’s champions. Some of these teams had as many as 12 riders, and have been together for years, so it was a great victory!

These teams are made up of excellent riders and to their credit they made us work hard this year to beat them!” The Whip Crackers also came away with the reserve champion title in the adult division and second place in over all high scores for the weekend.

A surprise came when they also won “Best Costume” for the ride they preformed on Saturday! The entire team including the family members and friends were over come with emotion when our name was announced as “Champions” said Kerri Doncom team parent.

            Drill teams ride horses in precision maneuvers to music while in costume. It’s like “Dancing on Horseback” said Laura Marquis Assistant Coach. We come up with an idea or theme, and then we choreograph a routine on horseback and add music to go with it. Each year we have two themes we compete with. This year we chose a “Fairy Tale” routine and a “Southern Down Home Hospitality theme”.

We try to find a theme that is entertaining and reaches the audiences emotions”. The Fairy Tale theme has detailed colorful costumes, with a storyline of “Good over Evil” complete with battling Fairies on horseback”. While the Southern Theme has  “good ol’ toe tapping “feel good” music” and the traditional “Western Dress” including Cowboy Hats & Chaps. It was a ride that was really fun said Marquis.

            The Arcadia Whip Crackers have been together about 3 years and have been competing statewide for about 2 of those years. This was their second trip to state competition.

They have also preformed at the 75th Annual Arcadia Rodeo, the 2003 Kix”s Country Festival, the S.W. Florida Cracker Festival, and the recent Bon Secours International Fall Festival at the Charlotte County Fair Grounds where they put on a hour show for a large audience including demonstrations on horse training and showcasing some of their talents such as ring jousting, relay racing and flag racing.

This was the first year during one of our shows that we had audience participation, “We try to make it fun for the audience and the team during these shows” plus the team learns to relax and enjoy themselves in front of an audience said team parents Don & Cathy Norris.

            This team has been through a lot of transitions since it was first founded by Mike of Horse Creek Stables where the team practices. We have had a few riders’ come and go. It takes a lot of dedication and commitment to be a part of a drill team” said Richard & Betsy Anderson (team parents).

You have to think like a team instead of an individual since everyone is affected by one person not showing up for practice or having a bad attitude. It works like a domino effect, so we need positive riders with great attitudes and that’s what we have! We couldn’t have won a championship without the diehard spirit of our team”.

Several weeks before competition we had 3 riders have bad falls, horses having soundness problems and when it seemed like all our hard work was for nothing, these girls pulled it together and made it happen, they really worked hard to bring a State Championship back to Arcadia “THE HOME OF THE ARCADIA WHIP CRACKERS MOUNTED DRILL TEAM!”

            We were practicing two to three times a week to make the lost time up! These girls gave up their weekends for several months to make this happen and they really impressed us with their work ethics. It really says a lot about their character and the way their families have raised them to have such a strong commitment and dedication to each other and their team.       

We really couldn’t have done it without our parent support & the financial support of our sponsors, and the help from the community when we had fundraisers! We would like to thank several of our sponsors! Such as Don & Cathy Norris from Dreamscape Landscaping in Punta Gorda, Richard Zahorniak from High Tech Diving in Pt. Charlotte, Brad from Rainbow Dive Co. in Arcadia, Joy, Lum & Carrie from Lowe's Livestock & Feed in Punta Gorda and all who helped us by purchasing discount cards and donating at the fundraisers that we have had through out the year! We are in need of more sponsors for the up coming new year in 2004. We would just love to promote our local businesses in Arcadia and have them as a team sponsor!

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