Day of Florida’s White Fences Show Threatened by Complaint to US Equestrian Federation

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Adam Pollak with rider at Welcome Back to White Fences show. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Adam Pollak with rider at Welcome Back to White Fences show. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

LOXAHATCHEE, Florida, Feb. 24, 2014–A complaint filed by a show organizer that has not scheduled a competing event is threatening a day of one of the immensely popular White Fences events in March although it was already approved by the U.S. Equestrian Federation. The 30 days the USEF said it could take to make a decision would not be in time to save the day.

In a bizarre twist, the White Fences organizer was required by the USEF to file for an exemption to the so-called mileage rule that requires a distance of 75 miles between dressage events although the USEF has not authorized a show by the competing organizer, Wellington Classic Dressage and no other competition is scheduled within 500 miles (800km), according to the official USEF calendar.

The USEF had already approved the Welcome Back to White Fences II and III shows from Friday Mar. 21 to Sunday Mar. 23, but approval for the Friday has apparently been put on hold as a result of the complaint that was against the federation but damages the White Fences event.

Entries have already been accepted for the three days of the show.

Adam Pollak, organizer of competitions at White Fences which has hosted dressage events for more than 30 years, told dressage-news.com he did not know what to do with entries already received and whether he could continue to accept entries.

The complaint was filed by Noreen O’Sullivan, managing partner of Wellington Classic Dressage, on behalf of International Horse Sport Palm Beach that did not hold its competition in 2013 and is not on the USEF calendar for 2014.

The same management hosted a CDI at Equestrian Estates in Loxahatchee 2012 on the same date as the White Fences national competition although the two shows are just a few hundred yards (meters) apart. Although a CDI trumps a national show in terms of precdence, the internatonal event was poorly attended in an apparent protest by riders.

The incident has led to an outpouring of support for the White Fences event and its organizer.

Adam said he was informed by the USEF on Monday that he would need to file for the exemption from the mileage rule so that he could host the White Fences on all three days.

However, the USEF told him that 30 days would be required to handle the exemption application which would place the decision on or after Mar. 26–the week after the competition.

The filing by Noreen O’Sullivan on behalf of IHS, Adam said, “has resulted in the tentative revocation of the Friday show date of the WBTWF II/III March 21-23 weekend by USEF on Feb 24.

“Even though we have run that show for what will be the ninth year and IHS is not running that show in 2014, we are now needing to ask for a special exemption and permission to run Friday this year.”

There was no response to a request by dressage-news.com to Noreen O’Sullivan for comment and clarification of the situation.

A Global Dressage Festival official could not be reached as to whether that organization supported the complaint against the White Fences date. GDF has a two-day national competition scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, Mar. 19-20.

Wellington Classic Dressage managed international and national shows at the taxpayer-owned Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in West Palm Beach but sold the winter circuit dates to the organizers of the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington.

International Horse Sport Palm Beach was a partnership of Noreen O’Sullivan and John Flanagan with Danish Olympian Lars Petersen and American trainer Ed Borreson. However, that partnership ended last year and Lars and Ed apparently have no association with the current complaint.

The date issue has arisen coincidentally the same week as the Palm Beach Dressage Derby World Cup event is being held at the Global Dressage Festival grounds for the first time outside Loxahatchee after the owners of the date terminated a management agreement with the group that operated the Wellington Classic, Gold Coats Dressage Association and IHS shows.

It was unclear whether the complaint on behalf of IHS was valid as two of the four partners in the group were not parties to the filing.

Noreen O’Sullivan also manages shows for Gold Coast, a local non-profit club affiliated with the U.S. Dressage Federation. Its biggest show was moved to the Global Dressage Festival grounds this year. The Internal Revenue Service in 2013 revoked the tax exempt status of the GCDA for failure to file required reports for three years. An organization that tracks IRS filings on Monday listed the GCDA tax exempt status as still revoked.