Hello Beautiful Friends!
One and done! Well, until Wednesday that is. The weather could not have been better for the kick-off week of the 40th Anniversary season of the Winter Equestrian Festival.
Starting off with the opening press conference, speakers included ESP CEO Mark Bellissimo, ESP’s President Michael Stone, Olympian Margie Engle, three-time USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship winner Liza Boyd, 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games Show Jumping Team Gold medalist Adrienne Sternlicht, seven-time Swedish Olympic dressage competitor Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven, and Anne Caroline Valtin, Executive Director of the Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®.
The riders on the panel were asked to speak about their plans for the season. A theme among them that stood out to me was using this season of WEF for bringing up new mounts. Margie and Adrienne both talked about up and coming horses in their strings. Mark Bellissimo addressed improvements made to the footing in the International ring. Footing is such a sensitive subject and for good reason, it can make or break a show facility. It is very common to hear complaints about footing at any and all horse shows on any given day in my experience. A world class show like WEF should absolutely have the best footing there is to offer. We will have to stay tuned to see what riders are saying after experiencing the improvements. Mr. Bellissimo said that new materials, felt and fiber have been added. He said that they had also determined a new maintenance plan that would be overseen all season long by at least 1 of 2 experts that were consulted. As for the future, Mr. Bellissimo said that the World Equestrian Games took a lot out of them this year, but that they will use 2020 as a year to reinvent and plan to spread the competition across all 3 properties. Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, Global Dressage, and the International Polo Club. As Michael Stone put it, “If you stand still, you’re dead.” They will continue to innovate and encourage people to view Wellington as a lifestyle destination.