Wellington’s Global Dressage Show Grounds to be Refurbished With New Arena Footing, More Permanent Stabling
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 25, 2021–The Global Dressage Festival is completing its 10th year as the center of the sport in the Western Hemisphere with plans to install new high performance footing and expand permanent stabling as another step in refurbishing the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Plans are also being looked at to stage one of the hugely popular Friday Night Lights of musical freestyle performances in the centerpiece International Arena in the main jumper stadium during next year’s winter circuit.
Michael Stone, president of Equestrian Sport Productions that organizes both Global dressage and the Winter Equestrian Festival of jumpers and hunters, outlined to dressage-news.com plans for the complex that is now named Equestrian Village.
Major upgrades have already been implemented at the main show grounds of 13 competition arenas and a winter circuit that has been extended beyond the normal 12 weeks as larger than usual numbers of horses and riders have come to Wellington from around the world as the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered many shows is in its second year.
International dressage competition is in a main arena with a VIP pavilion on two sides and spectator space on the other two sides–though no general spectators are admitted during coronavirus restrictions–plus a full size warmup ring. National competitions are on three rings with two warmup arenas. The giant Van Kampen covered arena can easily accommodate two competition and a warmup arena. The indoor is used by both dressage and jumpers.
The grass derby field takes up a large section, used by jumpers and hunters during the winter circuit and occasional special events such as an eventing spectacular.
Michael Stone admitted the jumper community is in love with the grounds that are dedicated primarily to dressage.
The Rolex CSI5* that is being staged on the derby field this week–when there is no international dressage–had 57 entries including some of the world’s top riders while another 50 jumpers competed in a complementary CSI2* held in the main arena that features top dressage.
“The reactioin from the riders has been unbelievable, how much they love it over there,” Michael said, “peace and quiet, beautiful facility. The footing is amazing.
“I think it’s one of the reasons that’s driving people to come to Wellington.”
Although some in dressage fear a takeover of the facility by jumping there has been no conflict in the past decade and no interference with the lineup of seven weeks of international dressage and para dressage.
“In the long term,” Michael said, “it’s going to help with the funding of the facility. The more activity we have over there the more we have to improve it.
“We’re looking at building another permanent barn.” That would be in addition to two barns currently providing stabling for up to 200 horses.
“We’ve no plans to do any more (jumping) shows than we’ve done this year.
“To have the Rolex Grand Prix on the grass going forward could be very exciting for Global. We can do tailgating, do a lot of things on Sunday afternoon to make that a unique competition.”
“When we tie that in with dressage, it all helps.”
“Something we’re looking in to for next year is having a freestyle at the main WEF arena,” Michael said.
He said there are already a lot of events on the calendar and dressage requires enough space to do it safely–horses being ridden from international stabling would have to pass by a lot of jumpers and hunters in other arenas, a consideration for spooky dressage mounts.
But, he said, “We’d like to mix it up.”