Internationally acclaimed FEI course designer Pierre Jolicoeur, who trained Olympic legends Eric Lamaze and Mario DesLauriers, has his sights set on giving back to support the next generation of talented young riders in equestrian sport. With the commencement of the 2013 horse show season, Jolicoeur recently launched his own young equestrian support initiative, the PJ Saddles Junior Rider Sponsorship Program, providing trainers across the nation the opportunity to nominate deserving young riders for sponsorship by his high-end saddle company, PJ Saddles.
Ideal candidates chosen for recognition by Jolicoeur’s program are responsible young riders who demonstrate good horsemanship, sportsmanship and unwavering commitment to equestrian sport.
One example is local junior rider Marissa Damone of The Acreage, who was the first young rider selected for the program, receiving a brand-new PJ Saddle and sponsorship by Pierre Jolicoeur for the 2013 show year.
Damone, who practices six days a week with trainer Sean Jones at Palm Beach Riding Academy in Wellington, is an experienced show rider with numerous championships and wins through the highest AA ranking at the Winter Equestrian Festival in both hunters and equitation.
What makes Damone’s situation unique to that of many of her peers at this level of competition is that she does not own a horse, and instead has to work off her lessons and training, riding and competing on others’ horses whenever possible. Damone’s previous saddle was well worn, with several holes beneath her leg and seat from years of hard use, and while her parents both work overtime to assist in her passion, a new saddle was simply not in the budget. Despite the holes in her saddle, and being surrounded by many fellow riders and friends fortunate to have the finest equipment and apparel, Damone always remained a good sport and did not give up, continuing to make do and work hard with what she had.
“I’m just a proud father, and so thankful of this opportunity for her,” her father Ralph Damone said upon Marissa being recognized by PJ Saddle’s Junior Rider Sponsorship Program.
“These are the young riders that I have a passion to help,” Jolicoeur said. “These kids have put in the time and committed themselves fully to riding. They have shown their honest hunger for the sport, and have often gotten themselves where they are through hard work and determination, despite possible limitations. This program is one I feel passionately about, providing assistance and recognition to deserving young riders across the country.”
Trainers interested in nominating a junior rider can e-mail their interest to email@example.com.
Above: Pierre Jolicoeur, Marissa Damone and PJ Saddles representative Kristin Corragio.