Internationally acclaimed FEI course designer Pierre Jolicoeur, who trained the likes of Olympic legends Eric Lamaze, 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 beginning Dec 1st, 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. A shining example on all levels was local junior rider, Marissa Damone of West Palm Beach, FL, who was the lucky 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 6 days/week with trainer, Sean Jones, at Palm Beach Riding Academy in Wellington, FL, is an experienced show rider with numerous championships and wins thru the highest ‘AA’ ranking at the Winter Equestrian Festival in both hunters and equitation. What makes her 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. Her 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 as they were able, a new saddle– while desperately needed for her to continue to ride and compete– was simply not in the budget. Despite the large holes in her saddle, and being surrounded by many fellow riders and friends fortunate to have the finest equipment and apparel, Marissa 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,” commented father Ralph Damone upon Marissa being recognized by PJ Saddle’s Junior Rider Sponsorship Program.
“These are the young riders that I have a passion to help,” said Jolicoeur, upon selecting Marissa as the first junior for sponsorship. “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 email their interest to firstname.lastname@example.org