Western Returns to Wellington with Popular HSBA/PoloGear® Barrel Racing Event at Polo West

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
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Wellington, FL - Hundreds of spectators gathered at Polo West on Saturday for a night of fast-paced barrel racing as Horse Show By Appointment (HSBA) and PoloGear® teamed up for the second of five events in their summer exhibition series. While watching more than 60 barrel racers of all levels battle it out for the quickest time, visitors could enjoy a delicious country barbecue dinner, socialize with friends and neighbors, and browse a selection of vendors complementing the Western theme. Numerous sponsors, including title sponsors WestWind Surfaces and Engel & Völkers Wellington, helped bring Western back to Wellington with their generous support. Dan Carr of WestWind Surfaces was on hand to personally drag and maintain the new, top-notch footing he installed in the lighted Polo West arena.


"I am so happy to have the opportunity to work with HSBA and PoloGear®," Carr said. "The all-discipline custom footing is the perfect addition to the Polo West facility. The improvement to the surface was a huge budgetary item and we were thrilled to help alleviate the cost for the organizers. The event was a true success with great competition, a wonderful exhibition and community involvement."

The evening began with a casual meet and greet and socializing from 6-7 p.m. Vendors offering Western-themed wares were open for business ringside at Polo West. The barrel racing competition kicked off following an opening ceremony at 7 p.m.


Rick Steed got the crowd going with his bridleless reining demonstration
Rick Steed got the crowd going with his bridleless reining demonstration

At the midway point of the competition, Trevor and Rick Steed of HSBA and Steed Training performed an exciting freestyle reining demonstration including bridleless spins and sliding stops, and Monica Lalama presented a bridleless barrel racing exhibition. Following the competition, an after party with a DJ, dancing and a full bar was held inside.


"The event was great," Rick Steed said. "We had tremendous support from the community and from the riders. There were more than 60 runs, and I don't think we could have had a better show. We had a big draw for the first run on new ground - it seems like the barrel community's saying they liked it."

"We really appreciate all of our sponsors who stepped up to support the event," he added.

HSBA's Tom DiRocco, who organized the event and worked hard to ensure everything ran smoothly, thanked HSBA sponsorship director Susan Shelly and noted he was grateful for the backing of sponsors who generously contributed to the summer exhibition series.

"Without our sponsors, this wouldn't be possible," he said. "We had so many people come up and thank us for bringing this fun, family-friendly event to Wellington, which made it worth all the energy. It was a tremendous success. We're also grateful to Bruce Sutka, Palm Beach and Wellington's master mood creator, for setting the stage and helping everyone get in the country Western mood."

"We're trying to bring Western to Wellington to make Wellington a year-round horse mecca and drive business on a year-round basis to all of the hardworking business people who support the town and community," he added. "Our business model as we do this is to ask permission and never ask for forgiveness. We found the Village of Wellington to be delightful to work with."

Gary Fellers and Jeanette Sassoon of PoloGear® provided the beautiful Polo West arena for the evening's festivities. HSBA is planning to move its home base to Wellington for the 2015 show season and the 2016 $100,000 Championship Finals. With the generosity and support of PoloGear®, the "Western in Wellington" series is the perfect introduction to everything the Western discipline has to offer.

PoloGear® began to build a relationship with HSBA shortly after venturing into the realm of Western Dressage. The expansion into the Western discipline was a natural progression for the Wellington-based company. Already very much involved in the disciplines of polo, jumping, and classical dressage, PoloGear's founders Sassoon and Fellers also have a tie to the traditional Western community through their ranch at the base of the Big Horn Mountains in Parkman, WY.

"We love working with Steed Training and HSBA," Gary Fellers, founder of Polo Gear®, commented. "Rick is an incredible horseman and visionary. His ability to get people together and to believe in a vision is remarkable. We love his enthusiasm and drive. That has really brought together the team to make this all happen. Jeanette has entrusted him to work with her blind horse, Cherokee, and is extremely pleased with the results. Rick is an extremely gifted trainer as well as rider and we are delighted he had the chance to help train Cherokee this winter. The Western in Wellington is part of a vision we all share, and we are proud to be a part of it as partners with HSBA and Steed Training."

Monica Lalama, who trains barrel horses out of Running Acres Ranch in West Palm Beach, FL, stepped in to help HSBA organize the barrel racing and spread the word to bring in plenty of riders to the event. Her expertise in the discipline ensured a fun and competitive atmosphere, and her bridleless demonstration was a highlight of the evening.

"The event ran smoothly, and everything was back to back with no slow periods," Lalama commented. "I travel all over Florida to compete, and there's nothing really in Wellington for that discipline, so it's good to see."

HSBA, the popular reined cow horse show association that hosts fun, fair and affordable competitions, hopes to expand to offer barrel racing in the future and looks forward to working with the National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA) in co-sanctioning shows.


Alexandra Sky Ortiz and Angus brought in the American flag for the national anthem
Alexandra Sky Ortiz and Angus brought in the American flag for the national anthem

Alexandra Sky Ortiz, Princess Miss Rodeo Palm Beach County, was on hand to ride in the opening ceremonies as well as compete.


"This was awesome!" the 11-year-old Ortiz said. "It was my first barrel show tonight. I had a really fun time."

Ortiz' horse, Angus, came from Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue, and she's had him since she was 5. She primarily rides English and competes in the hunters with Angus, but enjoys her involvement in Western events as well.

The participants in the barrel racing competition gave rave reviews of the event. Cynder Stovall, who trains with Rick Steed, is a newcomer to the sport but already an enthusiastic participant.

"It was really, really fun!" she said. "I had a good time. I've learned a lot from Rick. He's really good with horses - we call him the horse whisperer. I've been wanting to be a barrel racer for a long time, and he trained me for that in ways I didn't realize, building me up for it. He gave me all the pieces that I put together."

Three events remain in HSBA and PoloGear®'s summer exhibition series, each one featuring a different Western discipline and plenty of fast-paced action in the Polo West arena. Don't miss a single one! They will be held on the following dates from 6-9 p.m. with an after party from 9-11 p.m.:

  • August 30 - Reined Cow Horse 
  • September 27 - Team Sorting/Herd Work 
  • October 25 - Ranch Horse 

The Reined Cow Horse exhibition, next in the series, promises to provide plenty of thrills as riders showcase their sliding stops and spins and tackle the challenge of working live cattle down the fence.

"The Reined Cow Horse exhibition will be packed full of excitement!" Rick Steed said. "It will be very high energy."

Barrel Racing Results


  1. Katie Rimes; Scotty; time 17.71; earning $150.00 
  2. Patty Waters; Gypsy; time 17.81; earning $105.00
  3. Christy Bennett; Reba; time 17.82; earning $61.00 


  1. Ashlee Griffin; Chubbs; time 18.24; earning $150.00 
  2. Kayla Burgin; Dance; time 18.25; earning $105.00 
  3. Christy Bennett; Audi; time 18.26; earning $61.00 


  1. Katy Smith; Angel Splitter; time 19.29; earning $150.00 
  2. 2T. Jessica Rheney; Pay Me Back Paige; time 19.34; earning $83.00 
  3. 2T. Erin Lindstrom; Wonders Pocahontas; time 19.34; earning $83.00 

Polo West Brings Western to Wellington Fast Facts

What: HSBA and Polo Gear® are bringing Western to Wellington with a fun series that is the talk of the town, offering family-friendly events, Western demonstrations, cookouts and an after party. Each event is free and features a meet and greet/casual socializing from 6-7 p.m., exciting demonstrations from 7-9 p.m., and an after party from 9-11 p.m. Wear your bolo ties, don your cowboy boots and grab your hats for an event unlike any other. Dogs are welcome as well, so don't forget to dress up your favorite furry friend and bring them along for a good old Western time.

This event series is FREE to spectators, so be sure not to miss the fun!

Event Contact: Thomas DiRocco of DDC Corp. thomasdirocco@hotmail.com Phone: (561) 371-4997

Where: Polo West 2470 Greenview Cove Wellington, FL, 33414

Time: 6-11 p.m.