When one thinks of Wellington, Florida, the first image is usually not that of Western horses, cowboy hats and fancy boots. On Saturday night, the 31st of May, the arena of Polo West was enjoying the 2nd meet & greet tour stop by the Western Dressage Association of Florida.
With 4 different breeds of horses riding 5 different levels of tests, the estimated crowd of 600-700 people from as far north as Jacksonville to the southern end of Miami and all areas in between, had the opportunity to see WD live and in person.
PoloGear, our generous sponsor of WDAFL Year End High Point Awards program, wanted to showcase Western Dressage and Reining together in their new Wellington polo & event arena. Along with reining trainer Rick Steed and his company, Show by Appointment, Jeanette Sassoon & Gary Fellers with PoloGear, and the WDAFL Board came up with a unique idea for a western exhibition.
Hosting a one hour meet and greet from 6 to 7 pm, the WDAFL Board had the chance to talk all things WD, sign up new members, as well as sell our t-shirts. At 7 pm the event started off with all the riders following the American flag into the arena. Jeanette Sassoon and her beautiful paint horse Cherokee presented the flag during the National anthem, riding flawlessly to the large crowd on a blind horse!
We were honored to have mufti-world champion Lynn Palm as the commentator for the western dressage rides. As each rider was riding their test, Lynn would explain what the movement was about, what a judge would be looking for, helping those in attendance understand what exactly they were watching.
In between each WD rider a reiner would ride an equal level reining pattern, again giving the audience an appreciation of that discipline, with Debbie Hall providing the crowd with an explanation of what the crowd was watching.
One of the many great things about WD is that any breed of horse is accepted and all ages of riders are welcome. The riders, all members of WDAFL, included: Myself, riding Intro on my part Arabian; Bonnie Dobson & her Norwegian Fjord riding Basic; Hannah Whray, a Junior rider (11y/o) on her QH riding level 1; and Melanie Peterson riding Levels 2 & 3 on her QH and Paint.
We had many interested folks at our table through the evening, asking how to get started, where to find trainers, where to show & test. We also signed up 3 new members! All in all, it was a wonderful event held in the heart of a traditional dressage community that came out to see and learn about this new and exciting sport…..Western Dressage!
Look up & Think Forward,
Lynn Shinkle WDAFL President