Noreen O’Sullivan and John Flanagan, fixtures in the Wellington dressage world, knew that if they built it, the crowds would come.
The husband and wife team are pioneers in establishing dressage shows in the South Florida area. Carol Cohen Hodess, a sponsor of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival and a prominent figure in the local equestrian community, recently awarded the couple with the Global Dressage Visionary Award at the 2017 Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington for the role that they play in the sport.
“They were the first people to host dressage shows for me and my daughter in our dressage life here in Wellington,” Cohen Hodess said. “It was like the wild west here back then.”
Since those first shows, the Wellington dressage community has grown to become the elegant, internationally competitive society that it is today.
O’Sullivan and Flanagan are the managing partners of Wellington Classic Dressage, which features USEF/USDF recognized dressage shows. O’Sullivan acts as show manager and Flanagan is in charge of sponsorship. “In the beginning, we did shows in several different venues, so we had some learning curves at different places for weather and logistics, but I always think it was a field of dreams,” O’Sullivan said. “It was something that the community really wanted and really supported. It’s a wonderful thing how it’s grown.”
O’Sullivan, Flanagan and Cohen Hodess reminisced about the beginnings of dressage shows in Wellington as Cohen Hodess presented them with the trophy.
“We owe the two of you so much of how the sport started here in Wellington — you both have made such a contribution,” Cohen Hodess said. “You exemplify the vision that this award represents, and I am so honored to present this to you.”
ABOVE: Carol Cohen Hodess (left) presents the Global Dressage Visionary Award to the husband-and-wife team of Noreen O’Sullivan (center) and John Flanagan (right).