Riding High

Riding High

As Jaylaan Llewellyn affectionately strokes and pats her horse’s mane, spectators understand that such gestures express fondness, direction, and expectation. Dasani is considered “green,” or young, but he is one of the horses in a hunter competition, judged on form and smoothness of fence jumping. This is just one of the many competitions that take place each February during equestrian and polo season in Wellington, an exclusive village in Palm Beach County, Florida. “Dasani is just 5 years old,” comments Llewellyn. “I can feel him being scared.”

Llewellyn is a high-spirited individual who, when she’s not riding or traveling through Europe buying horses, keeps busy managing Bluhammock Music (www.bluhammock.com), a New York City-based independent rock label featuring an eclectic mix of musicians including Virginia Coalition and Speech, formerly of Arrested Development.

Names like Dasani, Evian, and Minute Maid may remind us of thirst-quenching beverages. But for Llewellyn, they identify her dearest acquaintances and smartest competitors. (The latter two are jumpers, horses judged on speed and carefulness during jumper classes.) “Horses are people, too,” jokes Llewellyn, alluding to how affectionate, stubborn, clever, and inspiring these animals can be. “Each has [his or her] own personality. Evian is not the easiest to ride, and if you make a mistake on OJ (Minute Maid), she’ll punish you.” As a young, ambitious, and sometimes reckless rider, Llewellyn says that Chippendale, a horse she owned when she was 12, didn’t trust her until she was 16.

All her horses are named after Coke products. Llewellyn’s father is J. Bruce Llewellyn, former chairman and CEO of Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co. (No. 5 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $540 million in sales) and current chairman and CEO of the Delaware Coca-Cola Bottling Co. “It’s how I was able to do this,” she offers. “It’s kind of an homage to my dad.”

Llewellyn, 28, has been riding since she was 4, convincing her mother at a young age that horses were more appealing than dance class. Her first mount was the start of a commitment and love affair that has lasted throughout her life. During high school, she trained and competed all year, looking forward to Maclay Equitation Finals at Madison Square Garden. At 18, however, she took a break. “I was burnt out.”

After being away for 10 years, Llewellyn is again ready to ride, returning to the amateur competitive circuit and to the premier equestrian community, where this year her company was a sponsor among a variety of luxury products and lines.

The season features three segments from November to April: National Horse Show, Equestrian Festival, and Polo Season, all taking place at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. This year, Llewellyn was joined by several of her friends in the close-knit equestrian community, including Joli Burrell, owner of Halcyon Farm (www.halcyonfarm.net), an 18-acre, fully equipped lakefront stable. Burrell has been riding since she was 7 and is a dressage competitor. “It’s like ballet on horseback,” she explains of the dance-like maneuvers. Her champion is Fino, an 8-year-old stallion,