In the fall 1983, a small group of friends in Whatcom County, Washington got together (with a bottle of wine and a few snacks) to do what they loved: talk about horses and dressage. Back then, dressage instructors were few and far between and warmbloods were rare. Most dressage and eventing enthusiasts were riding Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Arabians. This group was hungry for knowledge and opportunities to show – especially for clinics and schooling shows. Equestrian’s Institute was putting on shows and events in the Seattle area but most of their activities were at least a two-hour drive away.
An idea was hatched to start a dressage club, and it became official in 1983. The first Whatcom County Dressage Association president was Carol Landt, who is still an active member today and serves as the current treasurer. In fact, many of the founding group are still active members who ride and show dressage and/or event and haven’t lost their passion for horses.
In the spring of 1984, the club became the first GMO (Group Member Organization) of Equestrian’s Institute (EI) and remained one until 2012 when EI decided to no longer have GMOs. The club volunteered at many Equestrian Institute shows and events and Whatcom County Dressage Association members were actively involved in that organization.
Because the club had many members who were passionate about eventing, the Whatcom County Dressage Association voted to change their name to the Whatcom County Dressage and Eventing Association (WCDEA) in 2004. In 2013, the club voted to become an independent GMO of the United States Dressage Federation.
People new to dressage have always been welcomed and encouraged by the club. WCDEA hosts clinics and schooling shows specially geared to be low-stress and to help “newbies”. The club has had a scholarship program, a Leg-Up Fund, which assists with training fees, and volunteers can earn “dressage bucks” for helping at events.
WCDEA has a long history of hosting and co-hosting dressage and eventing schooling shows, dressage and eventing camps, clinics, and seminars. They’ve given demos at the Northwest Washington Fair and assisted other organizations in their events. The goal has always been to increase members’ and non-members’ knowledge of dressage, eventing, sport-horse breeding, and horse care.
The group was instrumental in the development of Sunset Farm Park in Blaine, Washington. Sunset Farm Park was a horse farm donated to Whatcom County to be used as an equine event site and a place for horse people to go for a ride. Members of WCDEA developed the organization “Friends of Sunset Farm” which took over the role of supervising and developing Sunset Farm Park. Many WCDEA members continue to be passionate and supportive of Sunset Farm Park as well as WCDEA. The club continues to host clinics, schooling shows, and other events at Sunset Park. In August of 2019, WCDEA hosted their first Working Equitation Schooling show at Sunset Farm Park.
Meetings are held on the 3rd Thursday of each month at different venues around the county and usually include a guest educational speaker. The July meeting every year is held at Sunset Farm Park and features a potluck lunch and games on horseback. This year it will be on July 25 and include a tack sale and swap.
Their first event for 2020 is the “Spring Dust Off No Stress Dressage Show” on Saturday, April 4 in Deming, Washington.
Kim Roe grew up riding on the family ranch and competed in Western rail classes, trail horse, reining, working cow, and hunter/jumper. She trained her first horse for money at 12 years old, starting a pony for a neighbor.
Kim has been a professional dressage instructor in Washington state for over 30 years, training hundreds of horses and students through the levels. In recent years Kim has become involved in Working Equitation and is a small ‘r’ Working Equitation judge with WE United.
Kim is the editor of the Northwest Horse Source Magazine, and also a writer, photographer, and poet. She owns and manages Blue Gate Farm in Deming, Washington where she continues to be passionate about helping horses and riders in many disciplines.