Full Speed Ahead for Florida’s Global Dressage Festival Grounds

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Construction at the Global Dressage Festival grounds. No more polo on these fields. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Nov. 29–A fleet of earth moving equipment and trucks were constructing outdoor arenas and preparing the foundations for permanent stables and a covered arena on the grounds of the Global Dressage Festival to be launched at the end of January.

Four outdoor arenas and the covered ring large enough for three full size arenas will be permanent for year round use and use the same world class footing installed in the 12 competition arenas at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The GDF is part of the equestrian center.

Permanent stabling for 200 horses–200 more will be added for 2013–and the covered arena have been prefabricated offsite and will be trucked in and assembled Lego-like.

Permanent stabling foundations at the Global Dressage Festival grounds. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Equestrian Sport Productions the organizer of events at PBIEC for Wellington Equestrian Partners that owns the show grounds is spending at least $5 million (€3.75 million) this year on the GDF grounds of about 50 acres (20HA) that are dedicated to dressage. An adjoining grass derby field is used for jumping while the main PBIEC grounds a few hundred yards/meters away is double the size and hosts the world famous Winter Equestrian Festival of 12 weeks of hunter-jumper competitions.

The GDF show grounds are being built on the old Palm Beach Polo stadium that was the venue that kick started Wellington as a winter equestrian destination. Jumper shows were held in the parking lot of the polo grounds until moving down the road to what is now PBIEC while most dressage was staged in nearby Loxahatchee.

GDF will host five CDIs–two World Cup qualifiers, a CDI5*, a CDI3* and a CDIO as the first non-championship Nations Cup in the Western Hemisphere–over two months from February to mid-April with at least $275,000 (€206,000) in prize money, in addition to 10 national competitions, five of which will run concurrently with the CDIs.

Six other CDIs, including another three World Cup qualifiers and a World Dressage Masters CDI5*, as well as national competitions are scheduled for two show grounds in Loxahatchee and one in West Palm Beach over winter and early spring.

The lineup of 11 CDIs is the world’s most intensive dressage circuit at about three months with total prize money of more than $400,000 (€300,000 ).

The Florida dressage circuit in which the GDF is a centerpiece is re-writing the schedules of competitors not only in North America but a growing number of Europeans and Latin Americans.

Jan Ebeling, who competed at the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas in 2009 and Leipzig, Germany, in 2011, is moving from his base in Moorpark, California, to Florida for the winter, as is Adrienne Lyle, based in Hailey, Idaho, in summer and in Southern California in winter.

Adrienne will be competing in Florida on Wizard and two younger horses, all owned by the Thomas family that also owned Brentina, told dressage-news.com, “I can’t wait to see all the action.”

Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén, who is leading the Western European League World Cup standings, will spend her second winter based in Wellington, and Anky van Grunsven of the Netherlands has made known her plans to spend several weeks in Florida.

A large percentage of competitors on the 12 national teams at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, have been based in Florida and several others disclosed plans to spend winters there because of the level of competition.