Preparations Nearing Completion for Wellington’s CDI Lineup Expanded to Nine Weeks Beginning Next Month

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Kent Farrington, one of the world’s top jumper riders, competing at Equestrian Village which includes the Global Dressage Festival grounds, during the series of shows over the past five months. © 2020 Anne Gittins Photography

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Oct. 20, 2020–With the experience of 15 weeks of competitions at the show grounds that host the Global Dressage Festival since the return of equestrian sport, organizers are preparing for the winter circuit that’s starting earlier to extend the lineup to nine international dressage events over the next five months.

Although the hunter/jumper competitions that have seen more than 2,000 rides some weeks have been almost free of coronavirus, managers with decades involved in the largest and longest running horse shows in the world have implemented measures that so far have kept the shows almost totally free of coronavirus infections. There have been more than 16,000 rides, an average of 1,450 per week.

David Burton, manager of the hunter/jumper shows at what is called Equestrian Village but is better known to the dressage community as the home of the Global circuit, described the attitude of riders to the strict implementation of Covid-19 procedures as “outstanding.”

Since the world-wide lock-down of equestrian sport in mid-March and the patchwork return of shows around the world, there have been no dressage shows at Palm Beach International Equestrian Festival.

But several have been staged at the Palm Beach Equine complex literally across the road from PBIEC that facilities manager Amy Swerdlin said have been without incident although the shows have been larger than years past.

The Global shows will be critical for riders seeking to qualify for the World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden next April and the Olympics in Tokyo that were delayed a year to the summer of 2021.

Wellington’s equestrian community of primarily dressage, hunter-jumper and polo unlike any in the world, has been successful dealing with the pandemic so far. Horse sports are the lifeblood of the community–roadside horse trails are a feature, similar to Holland’s bike paths–that exist in a self-created “bubble,” close to but separate from the densely populated Atlantic coastline.

Michael Stone, president of Equestrian Sport Productions that organizes the Global Dressage Festival and the Winter Equestrian Festival of hunter-jumpers, said the addition of shows in November and December ahead of the 12-week winter circuit could boost economic impact on Palm Beach County beyond the $290 million and creation of more than 3,000 jobs of the 2020 season.

Tim Dutta, who heads up The Dutta Corp. air transportation business, reported that pretty much all European riders who are regular competitors in Wellington, have reserved places for their horses to fly to Florida.

Despite restrictions in many parts of the world on international air travel, Homeland Security and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee worked out a way to provide waivers to foreign individuals traveling to America for Olympic-level events.

The U.S. Equestrian Federation handles waivers for foreign riders, grooms, officials such as judges seeking to participate in horse events. The contact to request a waiver is Amelia Prevost at aprevost@usef.org or by phone at +1 859 225 2055. Details are available by clicking here: Inbound Travel To The USA Waiver FAQ copy.

Tim had high praise for the waiver that he said had overcome most travel concerns of foreign participants.

Automatic temperature check at the competitor entrance to the Global Dressage Festival show grounds. © 2020 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

An outline of measures implemented by PBIEC and worked out with the Centers for Disease Control and local authorities, the USEF as well as five months’ practical experience include:

–Temperature checks of everyone arriving at the show grounds every day;

–Face masks at all times except for riders during the actual ride;

–Social distancing of at least six feet/1.83m, and

–Maximum of four people per horse–rider, groom, trainer and one additional person.

The complete requirements (written for hunter-jumper shows but to be amended for dressage) are available here: ESP-COVID-19-Action-Plan-10.6.20

At this stage, no spectators will be allowed, as occurred during the last week of the 2020 Global circuit in mid-March.

Plans are to have the VIP pavilion, but with special requirements.

Tables will be six feet apart, meaning a reduction from the numbers of previous years. Food will be buffet style with the staff behind plexiglass shields fulfilling requests, according to founding sponsors who have been advised verbally.

Steffen Peters riding Suppenkasper to victory at the Global Dressage Festival Friday Night Freestyle in front of stands that were empty as spectators were not allowed. It will be the same in the 2021 winter season and also the Saturday night jumping highlight at the main show grounds. © 2020 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

CDI events scheduled at the Global grounds:

Nov. 12-15 – CDI3*
Dec. 10-13 – World Cup
Jan. 13-17 – World Cup
Jan. 27-31 – CDI4*
Feb. 10-14 – World Cup
Feb. 24-28 – CDI5*
Mar. 3-7 – Palm Beach Dressage Derby World Cup
Mar. 16-21 – Nations Cup
Mar. 31-Apr. 4 – CDI4*

National competitions will be held alongside the CDIs, as well as during weeks when no CDI is scheduled.

Total prize money for Global has not yet been announced, but is expected to be near almost $600,000.