Welcome to the launch of the South Florida Dressage Association!
South Florida has a vibrant community of horse enthusiasts in every equine discipline. Many of us are devoted students of the sport and art of dressage, striving every day, at every level and on every type of horse to find that elusive moment when riding becomes a dance. For those of us who live in the southern part of Florida, far from the show grounds in Wellington and Lake Worth it can be very difficult and cost prohibitive to bring our horses that far north for clinics and shows. Despite having the Tropical Park showground in Miami that boasts a covered arena, and the wonderful new show facility in Plantation Acres, there has not been a United States Dressage Federation affiliate GMO in this area since Hurricane Andrew in 1992 after which point the Miami-Dade Dressage Association, (of which I was a member while living in the Redlands), was dissolved.
So it is for these people, fellow dressage enthusiasts from Southern Palm Beach County to the Florida Keys that the South Florida Dressage Association has been formed.
Joining me in this adventure are co-founders Jennifer Petrey and Lee Ann Steinberg. I am known for being a strategic thinker so it is no accident that they are SFDA Officers with the skills that these two ladies possess. You can read about them on our new SFDA website!
One very important principal we are committed to is that SFDA management –its Officers/Directors/Committee Chairs, etc. be adult amateurs only. This will continue to guide us as the SFDA expands. We believe this structure, along with the promise to treat all of our dedicated local dressage professionals equally and without bias in the operation of the SFDA, will foster a culture of mutual respect, collaboration and fair competition which we suspect everyone desires. Also, SFDA has been founded as a non-profit association. All revenues generated by membership, horse shows, sponsorships or other events will be rolled back into SFDA to support and fund SFDA activities.
We have already secured dates for two schooling shows in 2015 at the Plantation Equestrian Center: March 28 & 29 and October 3 & 4. Our Horse Show Committee is our first SFDA Committee and we are so thrilled that Suzie Cook has agreed to be Chair. As many of you know, Suzie is the former owner of Spectrum Saddle Shop and, better yet, has been running the Parkland Dressage Shows for a number of years. Talk about not re-inventing the wheel!
We also have several dates for clinics this season with Thomas Poulin, a USEF “S” Judge, instructor, clinician and a dear friend. Many of you in Broward County have been able to participate in some of Tom’s clinics over the past few years and know that he is truly a wonderful dressage ‘teacher’ for any level of horse and rider. Not only has Tom agreed to act as SFDA’s Advisor he has also agreed to wave his judging fee for one of our schooling shows! You can read a little about Tom on our About Us tab on the SFDA website. We are hoping to attract other dressage experts to hold clinics for us. If you have a suggestion and, even better, a connection with a clinician you think we should invite please let us know.
Another indication of a great start to SFDA is that Laine Hills D.V.M, one of our local equine veterinarians, has agreed to author a ‘Vets Corner’ column in our forthcoming newsletter. Laine aboard Ukarde, her 13 year old Dutch warmblood gelding has just won the Prix St. Georges Adult Amateur title at the GAIG/USDF Region 3 Championships. What an inspiration to the rest of us! In addition, Dr. Hills has graciously offered to the SFDA the use of her private dressage farm in Sunshine Ranches as a venue for SFDA Clinics.
Becky Baez who owns and operates Live Oaks Andalusians, a beautiful breeding and training facility in Sunshine Ranches, has also offered to host future SFDA clinics and activities. She is interested in being a contributor to our newsletter offering to share her knowledge in a section dedicated to educating us about different horse breeds.
Since the goal of SFDA is to represent the entire area south of Wellington to the Keys, please let us know of other venues willing to host events. How about Beach Dressage in the Keys?
We have been in contact with SWFDA on the west coast and there is great interest in having SFDA join them in their annual GMO Schooling Show Championships with Alpha Dressage in Tampa. Stay tuned!
We are seeking to build out our team within the SFDA. We will announce the formation of new committees as we move forward so if you’re interested in helping to organize programs & events and/or volunteering to help at the shows and clinics do get in touch.
Our new website is a work in progress. The goal going forward is to make it more comprehensive with more content as we grow, keep it user friendly and easy to find what you need. We will be expanding its resources with links to sponsors and a variety of other resources and activities in the region, nationally and worldwide. We will be starting a newsletter and Facebook page to complement our SFDA website in the very near future. Members are encouraged to submit newsletter articles, photos, grooming tips, cartoons, etc. to Jennet Cook Linn.
We intend to add a SFDA member Trainer Directory to our website and/or newsletter. All member trainers will have the opportunity to place an ad FREE of charge in the newsletter. In addition, we will be holding a competition for the member Trainer who has the most clients join SFDA…a FREE tack stall at our first show!
On November 22 we will be having our first SFDA meeting at a local Bar & Grill near Griffin and I75. See the Events Calendar for details and map. This is intended as an informal ‘Meet & Greet’ so please come & bring your fiends.
As President, I would like to see SFDA become fully ‘grounded’ as an organization this first year with solid membership numbers, an army of enthusiastic volunteers and a growing list of loyal sponsors. Remember that by joining SFDA, you are also joining USDF with numerous advantages (e-Trak, subscription to USDF Connections, numerous discounts and USDF award eligibility). My personal goal is to make SFDA the best GMO in Florida – the one every other GMO looks to as the example of how things are done! So become a SFDA member today and mark your calendars to join us as a competitor, auditor and volunteer.
We welcome your input and feedback, as we move forward. In return for all we offer you, we ask you to help SFDA grow and expand as Florida’s newest USDF GMO. An easy way to spread the word is to forward the email announcement you received that contains the website link and membership information to all of your friends who love horses and dressage.
We are a volunteer run organization from top to bottom, so every hour you give us as a volunteer will be returned to you in more and better programs and activities to support our shared passion. Welcome to the South Florida Dressage Association. I look forward to seeing you in person during the year.
Jennet Cook Linn