Jeanette Sassoon and Cherokee.
Wellington, FL – March 26, 2014 – PoloGear is pleased to announce both its newest sponsorship recipient, and its first step into the world of a new discipline: Western Dressage. A completely unique equestrian sport combining classical dressage concepts to develop the western horse and rider, this year’s winners of the High Point divisions in Florida’s own Western Dressage Association will be receiving some extra special prizes to go with their award.
PoloGear is the first sponsor for the Western Dressage Association of Florida (WDAFL), and has generously provided everything from belt buckles to shirts, chairs and totes for some of Florida’s top western dressage riders at their year-end award ceremony.
“We are so grateful to PoloGear for coming on board as our first sponsor,” Lynn Shinkle President of the Western Dressage Association of Florida said. “Sponsors are huge, and we are so excited to have their generosity and help with our year-end High Point Rider awards.”
While this is PoloGear’s first venture into the realm of western dressage, the expansion to include it as one of PoloGear’s sponsored sports is a natural progression for the company. Already very much involved in the disciplines of polo and classical dressage, PoloGear’s founders Jeanette Sassoon and Gary Fellers also have a tie to the traditional western community through their ranch at the base of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming, where they raise cattle and American Quarter Horses.
Sassoon elaborated, “Being able to share 30 years of dressage experience with this new and exciting discipline of Western Dressage is so wonderful. To me, the slogan as part of their branding is so apropos and describes the relationship we can have with horses so beautifully: ‘It’s about the journey.'”
Sassoon got her first introduction to western dressage through a very special blind paint horse in her pasture by the name of Cherokee. Originally given to her as a companion for her 24 year old Prix St George dressage horse Valiant, who was also blind, Cherokee is trying his hand (or hoof, rather) at western dressage with Sassoon.
“I was wondering what Cherokee wanted to do for a job. I had this wonderful, colorful western Tobiano paint horse all dressed up in a white dressage pad with white wraps and a classical English dressage saddle and bridle,” Sassoon said. “Somehow although he looked very proper and very willing to ride English style, one day I thought maybe my Western saddle might go with his personality and overall look a bit better. If it did fit better then what in the world was I going to do riding my paint pony in a Western saddle doing traditional dressage training? Hence, western dressage was born for me!”
Sassoon continued, “I was very excited to learn that there really was an organization called Western Dressage Association of America (WDAA) so I reached out to the new WDAA Affiliate here in Florida, and since last January I have met some wonderful Western riders and horses on our journey.”
Cherokee had no training whatsoever under his belt before Sassoon began teaching him dressage last year, but his smarts and eagerness to please attitude have lent themselves perfectly to his new career.
“Cherokee is so incredible and understanding and loving,” Sassoon said of the horse. “These Quarter Horses and Paints just want to be your friend and please you. I couldn’t be more delighted to help train them, and let them in turn train me!”
Shinkle described, “It seems as though the stars and planets were in alignment when I met Jeanette. We are kindred spirits. We both have such passion, and a desire to have a good time. It isn’t only about winning; it is about the relationship with the horse. We think alike in so many ways, and although we are from two different worlds, it is almost like we are the same. I cannot thank PoloGear enough for their sponsorship, and always staying on the cutting edge of equestrian disciplines.”
Cherokee will debut his newly acquired western dressage skill set with Sassoon next month at his first show with the Western Dressage Association of Florida (WDAFL). Between Sassoon and Fellers’ affinity for western style riding, Sassoon’s background as a dressage rider and her fast approaching breakout show as a western dressage rider, PoloGear’s sponsorship of the WDAFL year-end awards is the perfect fit.
Shinkle explained, “Jeanette has trained and competed in traditional dressage up to the grand prix level. She has always been a western girl at heart and now she has her horse Cherokee who is also sight impaired – blind – like her other horse, Valiant, and they are the perfect fit for western dressage, all she has to do is transition into the western saddle.”
“The story of Cherokee is one that really represents the journey of Western Dressage. We move every one up level by level; it is like a set of stairs. You are competing against yourself, and having fun. When this first began there were not too many people, but now we have begun to grow exponentially,” Shinkle said.
PoloGear has been a staple in the Wellington equestrian community since 1992. They offer top of the line apparel and design, as well as premier saddles offering their patented Free Shoulder Saddles. Always seeking more avenues to best serve clients and their horses’ needs, PoloGear recently joined forces with Trilogy’s Debbie Witty, creating Performance Saddlery, Inc., in an effort to expand nationally and utilize Witty’s expertise to take saddle design to the next level. In addition to selling the proven Trilogy saddles the national force of Performance Saddlery fitters will also be selling the Verhan saddle line as well as all the PoloGear Team Shop products.
Polo Gear’s dedication to quality and attention to detail is never lost in their production. For more information on Polo Gear USA and to order products, visit www.pologearusa.com. For more information on the WDAFL, please visit www.wdafl.org.