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Horses, Riders Dance to Fight Breast Cancer

This weekend's Dancing Horse Challenge will raise money for breast cancer research.

Two Union Bridge residents will be dancing with horses this weekend to raise money for the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center.

The Ride for Life and Dancing Horse Challenge fundraiser will take place in Prince George's County Saturday.

The Potomac Valley Dressage Association (PVDA) Ride for Life is a family event that raises funds for breast cancer research and to improve the lives of those affected and their loved ones. The event, first held in 2004, has raised $410,000 according to a the event website.

The fundraiser coincides with a licensed horse show sponsored by the PVDA. Saturday's Dancing Horse Challenge will blend dance, music, lights, man and horse in a theatrical performance.

Julio Mendoza of Union Bridge will be be performing with his horse Ivan in the show. Mendoza is an internationally recognized trainer known for his dramatic costuming and horsemanship. He was born and raised in Ecuador, South America and started riding when he was 6-years-old.

This will be Mendoza's second year performing in the Dancing Horse Challenge.  

This year he is bringing two new acts to the Challenge. The first is a Pas de Deux.  It is a Spanish inspired act in which Julio and his wife Jessica, will perform to traditional dramatic Spanish music.

Michele Welman co-owns and manages By Chance Farm LLC, a horse boarding and training facility in Union Bridge. She is the chair of this year's Dancing Horse Challenge.

She said she's thrilled to be a part of this event.

"Our money directly supports the training of doctors who have an immediate impact on the lives of women and men affected," Welman said. "It also goes to create retreats for metastatic breast cancer patients who are working to find closure with their families and selves during the last days of their lives." 

The 9th Annual PVDA Ride for Life will take place at the Prince George's Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro this weekend on both Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The Dancing Horse Challenge will take place Saturday, tickets available at the door for $25.

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