From Our Desk: Out West

By February 1, 2011

Nancy Cole, publisher of The Equestrian News, and I frequently have this debate: What is the U.S. epicenter for equestrian sport? I – East Coast born and bred – argue that it is Wellington, Florida. Nancy, a “West sider” (from Arizona) insists it is California. I cite the concentration of competitive riders in Palm Beach; she claims that there may be more high performance jumper, hunter and dressage riders in Florida, but that California has it all over the Sunshine State when it comes to the sheer numbers and diversity of its horse population.

Well, Nancy, I hate to admit it, but I’m beginning to think you are right! Scanning the pages of our current issue, I am thoroughly impressed by the breadth and scope of equine sport at hand. From Western riders who made it to the Wrangler National Rodeo Finals – most of them landing in the top 10 – to the international superstars who are converging in Thermal for the 20th iteration of the HITS Desert Circuit hunter jumper show. And that doesn’t even take into account polo season, which heats up in April, the legions of dressage riders who consistently distinguish themselves in global competition, and the thousands of riders who take to the trails in pursuit not of ribbons and trophies, but fresh air, quality time in the saddle and fun.

And while I’m on that subject, a shout-out to the legions of volunteers who clear and maintain our wooded thoroughfares, through groups like Equestrian Trails Inc. They labor for no reason other than the community-minded goodness of their hearts. Thank you! Our region’s extraordinary trails system, whether you utilize it or not, is very important in protecting the urban-equestrian lifestyle that is regularly under threat from development.

Sure, we lost a few of our high performance jumpers to the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington this season. As the home base of the United States Equestrian Federation’s show jumping chef d’equipe George Morris, that is the place to be if you want to qualify for the Nation’s Cup teams. But hey, this year we gained Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, who flew in with her family from Germany to winter in Thermal. Not a bad trade!

It all evens out. At the end of the day, California is doing just fine!

Paula Parisi

Editor in Chief

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