A Brief History of the beginning of Western Dressage in Florida
(This has been put together from our firsthand accounts, and dates have been confirmed. There may be additional key events during this timeline that we are unaware of and encourage that information be brought to our attention – WDAFL Board)
With the recent announcement of the 7th Anniversary of the Western Dressage Association of America (WDAA), we thought it would be nice to take a walk down memory lane and see how the WDAFL has developed. As we soon host our third annual championship show, we thought it was appropriate to think back on how far WDAFL has come in 6 years!
It all started in January 2011, at the Painted Dreams Schooling Show in Melbourne, FL. Western Dressage classes were offered for the first time and had 2 entries. This was followed by the Dancing Horse Dressage (USDF GMO) in Melbourne adding Western Dressage classes that October.
In February 2012, STRIDE (USDF GMO), in Ocala began to offer Western Dressage classes. They were quickly followed by Alpha Dressage (USDF GMO) in Sarasota doing the same in April.
It was clear by this point, that the discipline was catching on! So, in July of 2012, a meeting was held at Fox Grove Farm in Ocala with 10 women from across the state deciding to form a Florida Affiliate of Western Dressage Association of America (WDAA.)
In October 2012, Palm Partnership Training offered a Western Dressage Clinic in Ft. Pierce. We believe that this was the very first Western Dressage clinic in the state. The very next month, Silver Sands Bridle Club offered Western Dressage classes at their show. Erin Miller had done a Western Dressage demo at their August show. That same month, Palm Partnership Training offered a Western Dressage Clinic at Fox Grove Farm in Ocala. During this clinic, Lynn Palm held a fund raiser via Facebook to help raise the necessary start up funds needed to establish the Florida Affiliate.
2013 brought even more activity! Northeast Florida Dressage (USDF GMO) in the Jacksonville area added Western Dressage classes to their January show. In February, there was a follow up conference call with regard to the July 2012 meeting. Monies raised by Palm Partnership Training, along with a loan, allowed the filing of the application for Affiliate status. An organizing board was elected that included Deb Herbert as President, Erin Miller as Vice President, Kim Stimmel as Secretary, and Daryl Leonard as Treasurer. All USDF Florida GMOs were contacted introducing them to WDAFL and were requested to consider adding Western Dressage classes to their shows. March brought news that WDAFL was recognized as the WDAA Affiliate in Florida. WDAFL WAS OFFICIAL! In October, a planning meeting was held in Ocala to put together the 1st Annual Meeting of WDAFL and present a ballot for an elected Board of Directors. November brought WDAFL’s 1st Annual Meeting and membership drive, held at Fox Grove Farm in Ocala. This was held in conjunction with a Palm Partnership Western Dressage Clinic Western Dressage Schooling Show the following day.
By 2014, WDAFL offered a High Point Awards Program to its members. This came as a result of feedback at the Annual Meeting, and members volunteered to establish guidelines for the program. Many shows across the state were now offering Western Dressage classes, and the discipline continued to grow throughout the year. WDAFL held its second annual meeting and first High Point Awards dinner in November. Marsha Sapp was the guest speaker and highlighted her training of mustangs.
In January 2015, Fox Lea Farms offered the 1st single day, stand alone, USEF Local Western Dressage Show in the USA~right here in Florida and all because of the tremendous interest shown by Western Dressage riders throughout the State. The WDAFL year was highlighted in November with the first WDAFL Championships Show being a USEF local show, held at The Grand Oaks Resort in Weirsdale, FL.
At this point Western Dressage clinics, schooling shows, GMO shows, WDAA Sanctioned Shows and USEF Local shows started taking off across the state, thanks to the work of the WDAFL Board, Advisory Board, Volunteers and Professionals committed to developing Western Dressage in Florida and setting the standard for the rest of the country.
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January 2011: Painted Dreams Schooling Show, Melbourne, FL offered Western Dressage (WD) classes.
October 2011: Dancing Horse Dressage (USDF GMO), Melbourne show with WD classes.
February 2012: STRIDE (USDF GMO), Ocala show with WD classes.
April 2012: Alpha Dressage (USDF GMO), Sarasota show with WD classes.
July 2012: Meeting in Ocala at Fox Grove Farm of 10 women to discuss a possible Florida Affiliate of WDAA.
October 2012: 1st Western Dressage Clinic in state offered by Palm Partnership Training, Ft. Pierce.
November 2012: Silver Sands Bridle Club, New Smyrna Beach with WD classes.
November 2012: WD Clinic and Fund Raiser for WDAFL at Fox Grove Farm, Ocala by Palm Partnership Training.
January 2013: Northeast Florida Dressage (USDF GMO), Jacksonville show with WD classes.
February 2013: Follow-up Conference call to July 2012 meeting, organizing Board selected
March 2013: WDAFL recognized as the WDAA Affiliate.
October 2013: Interim Board met in Ocala for the 1st Annual Meeting of WDAFL and present a ballot for an elected Board of Directors.
November 2013: WDAFL 1st Annual Meeting and membership drive, Fox Grove Farm, Ocala, FL.
2014: WDAFL High Point Awards Program established.
November 2014: WDAFL 2nd Annual Meeting and 1st High Point Awards Dinner.
January 2015: Fox Lea Farm offered the 1st single day, stand alone USEF Local Western Dressage Show in the USA.
November 2015:1st WDAFL Championships, a USEF Local show, held at The Grand Oaks Resort, Weirsdale, FL