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By Johnny Robb

The Gold Coast Dressage Association turned 35 this year and kicked off its Coral Anniversary by cooking up an asado hosted at the Palm Beach Equine facility in Wellington. The event also marked a milestone for longtime GCDA President and Show Manager Noreen O’Sullivan, who has not only seen the amazing transformation of the sport of dressage in the community, but has personally been a catalyst for the advancement of dressage in South Florida. O’Sullivan has served as the GCDA president for more than a decade after pitching in at almost every position. Early on, she served as a volunteer, a runner (who literally runs the score sheets from the judges’ box to the scorer), a scribe (the person who puts the judges’ comments and scores on the test sheet), the scorer (who tallies the scores on the tests) and a competitor. When O’Sullivan was sidelined from competing for a year after a car accident, she wanted to stay involved in dressage even though she couldn’t ride. “The club probably benefited from me being sidelined because I still wanted to be involved with the sport, and that spearheaded my movement into management,” she explained. O’Sullivan served in many additional roles, including the newsletter editor, overseeing sponsorships and publications, show manager, then vice president and eventually president. Her commitment to the sport has had a profound ripple effect in making Wellington known around the globe for world-class dressage. In fact, while spearheading the GCDA, and holding down

her full-time job as a financial planner, O’Sullivan and her husband, John Flanagan, started Wellington Classic Dressage, a show management company that would work side-by-side with the GCDA to further the sport of dressage and attract more riders from around the world. In her capacity as show manager for both GCDA and WCD, O’Sullivan hosted dressage shows at a number of Palm Beach facilities, including the Winter Equestrian Festival show grounds, Sunshine Meadows in Delray Beach, the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, the White Fences Equestrian Center and the Horse Park at Equestrian Estates in Loxahatchee. “Hosting shows in so many different venues was a big learning curve,” she ex-

Noreen O’Sullivan, Sue Jacoma and Ann Hart at the GCDA banquet.

plained. “When Stadium Jumping was sold to Equestrian Sport Productions, we moved to Jim Brandon. Back then, we hosted three to four shows a year.” But the community craved dressage, and the demand for education and dressage competitions was increasing rapidly. Today, GCDA and WCD host as many as 16 shows and educational events a year, and Equestrian Sport Productions hosts an additional 11 dressage shows in the high season at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, which O’Sullivan also had an influence on. Back in 2013, Equestrian Sport Productions approached Wellington Classic Dressage with their vision for the Global Dressage Festival and negotiated to purchase several of WCD’s high season show dates to facilitate the startup of the Global Dressage Festival. “Equestrian Sport Productions saw the high level of interest in dressage, and I saw it as an opportunity to again further our sport,” O’Sullivan explained. The result is that Wellington became a world-renowned mecca for dressage at the highest level, something that thrills O’Sullivan. “Wellington is known all over the world for dressage, and I take great pride in that. I have friends in the wellington the magazine | march 2019

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Profile for Wellington The Magazine LLC

Wellington The Magazine March 2019  

March 2019 | ON THE COVER Top dressage rider Kasey Perry-Glass, profiled in this issue. Photo ©TIEC | Stars Align For Adequan Global Dressa...

Wellington The Magazine March 2019  

March 2019 | ON THE COVER Top dressage rider Kasey Perry-Glass, profiled in this issue. Photo ©TIEC | Stars Align For Adequan Global Dressa...