When you’re an artist… you’re hard wired to seek out beauty. I couldn’t help but fall in love with dressage as an… ahem, middle-aged rider. I love the precision; and the systematic training through sequential skill development. But I also love my western saddle! Two years ago I caught wind of Western Dressage and the Western Dressage Association® of America and it instantly resonated with everything I thought was right about riding. I immediately contacted the WDAA and asked about what was happening in Florida. “Well” said Neide Cooley, “how about if I send you a state affiliate packet, and see what you can do!” That was a bit unnerving but, hey, why not! (I had NO clue!!!)
My USDF Group Member Organization (GMO) in Sarasota, the Alpha Dressage Association, graciously allowed me to make a presentation about this brand new discipline before last year’s show season. They agreed to offer Western Dressage classes and even though last year there were only a few of us riding in Western saddles… we were accepted and encouraged.
I contacted other Florida WDAA members and organized a meeting last July in Ocala. The amazing Lynn Palm and her husband Cyril Pittion-Rossillon hosted our kick off organizers event at Palm Partnership Training at Fox Grove Farm and Marie-Frances Davis, the Palm Partnership Clinic Manager was extremely helpful throughout our meeting and subsequent fund-raiser event at Lynn Palm’s clinic this summer.
A core group of dedicated Western Dressage enthusiasts agreed to help out, both with moral and financial support. These ladies represent every region of our large and diverse state. We have folks from the Panhandle, Central, East and West coasts of Florida working together! A few weeks ago our WDAFL By-Laws were finished, paperwork was sent in to the state (thank you Daryl!) and elections were held. (oh Glory!) Thank you Erin Miller, Kim Stimmel and Daryl Leonard for your commitment and love for Western Dressage.
Why am I so excited about the growth of Western Dressage in Florida?
A few facts to shine some light on our state:
- There are 500,000 horses in Florida!
- 70% of the horses are used for showing and recreation
- 244,000 Floridians are involved in the industry as owners, service providers and employees
- 6.5 billion dollar impact on the economy (figures from the Fla. Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services)
The WDAFL mission is to mirror that of the WDAA… and to provide educational and social opportunities for all riders who embrace western dressage.
After all, “It’s About the Journey…”
Welcome to the WDAFL… Here’s hoping for a beautiful ride together! Visit our Florida Facebook Page and connect with us!
article written by Deborah Herbert