Global Dressage Festival Debuts in Wellington

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Laurie Moore on Rolero, the first combination to go down the centerline at the first competition at the Global Dressage Festival grounds. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 2–The Global Dressage Festival began its inaugural competition as scheduled Thursday with sparse national levels ahead of the World Cup event while the city government considered plans to add a hotel and retail plaza to the show grounds on which millions of dollars are being spent to make it a showcase for dressage in the Western Hemisphere.

The first combination in the main arena was Laurie Moore on Rolero who moved her business from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Wellington last October after plans for the new dressage show grounds were announced a year ago.

“I felt as though I was the test ride for the Olympics,” said Laurie, aged 47, after completing her ride on the 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding who has not been competed for three years as the owners have ridden the horse for pleasure.

“The first ride on the first day of the first show… this is living the dream.”

The coral-colored footing that has become synonymous with the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center of which the dressage grounds are part was “great,” she said.

Paula Lacy of Arcata, California, who is judging in South Florida for the first time, said she “felt so honored” to judge the first classes at the new venue.

“I like the whole environment, I think it gives a wonderful impression. It bodes well for the future.”

Austria's Katharina Stumpf, an amateur rider, warming up For My Love in the first big tour class at the Global Dressage Festival grounds. © 2012 Ken Braddck/dressage-news.com

Katharina Stumpf of Vienna, Austria, was the first international rider, as well as being the first amateur and the first to show big tour.

She rode the 10-year-old Hanoverian For My Love at Intermediaire II, the second year Katharina has spent the winter in Wellington.

She described the facility and experience as “incredible.”

Meantime, the Village of Wellington council that governs the city of 55,000 people, was in its third day of deliberations on the GDF and an associated plan for a condominium hotel and a retail plaza on the site that overall is named Equestrian Village.

The council voted Thursday to approve a third 96-stall barn–two have already been constructed–but to delay for a year approval of a planned fourth barn to determine the impact on nearby homes.

They also voted to limit the number of permanent spectator seats to 3,500. Temporary seating for major events can be appled for.