Aiken’s Lance Marquette made the successful transition from football to the show ring.

And although he’s lived around horses and ponies his entire life, it wasn’t until he was 8-years-old that Lance decided to ask his father, Rex Marquette, who’s a horse trainer, to learn how to ride.

Lance’s combination of athleticism and natural ability has served him well during the nascent stages of his career in the show ring, but his parents didn’t want to push him, they wanted Lance to make the decision on his own, said Annika, Lance’s mother.

“He had trail ridden at home, but until two years ago, he hadn’t trotted, he had just walked,” said Rex.

However, it has been a pleasant surprise to see how well Lance has acclimated to the sport, said Rex.

“We’re lucky,” said Rex. “There’s a long way to go. We’ve only been doing this a short amount of time.”

Saturday found the Marquettes at the Progressive Show Jumping Just for Fun Show at Highfields Event Center. Lance rode Monroe, or Dot as she’s known around the barn, and took home blue ribbon honors in the 2 foot, hunter under saddle class.

“She’s a new ride, her owner lives in Wellington, Fla, and he’s still bonding with the horse,” said Rex.

One of the short term goals for Lance and Dot, would be for the rider/pony combination to qualify for the Devon Horse Show.

“It will be a challenge, it’s seemingly unattainable because Dot came with no points, and it takes so many points to qualify for Devon,” said Marquette. “We’re going to take a little run at it, and see where we go. We’ll show here in Aiken, and pick a few other places through the winter.”

The long term goals are to qualify for pony finals and the indoors, said Annika.

“He’s worked really hard at it,” said Annika.

Lance enjoyed a strong season in 2013.

“This last year, he was 16th over fences at pony finals, on a green horse he made himself,” said Rex.

The rider is continuing to evolve and will have a catch ride in January during the Aiken Winter Festival.

“As a trainer, I want other people to bring their ponies to us, and for him to get one,” said Rex. “Last year, he wasn’t ready for that, but this year he is. He can figure one out.”

Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004. Among the awards Baugh has won include the 2003 Raleigh Burroughs Award as the turf writer making the most impact on the Florida Thoroughbred Industry. Baugh is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, worked for North America’s leading Thoroughbred breeder Adena Springs in Ocala, Fla. And interned at Thoroughbred Racing Communications in New York, N.Y.