World Equestrian Center Ocala Dressage, Eventing Competitions Sought for 2022 Rejected by US Equestrian Federation

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World Equestrian Center at Ocala, Florida.

Oct. 4, 2021

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida has had applications for national and international dressage and eventing competitions in 2022 rejected by the United States Equestrian Federation in an escalation of the dispute over licensing of hunter/jumper competitions at WEC.

WEC confirmed that the applications for dressage and eventing shows in 2022 had been rejected by the USEF. The US federation did not comment.

Three international dressage competitions were scheduled in 2021 for the Ocala facility opened a year ago at a cost reported of at least $1 billion. One CDI3* was held in April, that was also an Olympic qualifying event, with World Cup qualifiers scheduled for later this month and in December. National dressage competitions were scheduled in summer and for December.

The dispute over Ocala dates comes at the same time as the change in ownership of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The Stadium complex that has been part of PBIEC and where the Global Dressage Festival has been staged for the past decade was not included, though Global has scheduled the winter-long circuit for 2022 at the same grounds.

WEC submitted applications for the 2021 dressage shows to the USEF which in turn approved them, and CDIs in turn were approved by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI). The dressage events have been operated under USEF and FEI rules, including drug testing.

The Roberts family created WEC as a multidisciplinary facility on 300 acres/120ha with 16 outdoor arenas with all weather footing, more than 2,000 climate-controlled horse stalls, multiple climate-controlled indoor arenas, a major hotel and restaurants, its own veterinary clinic and other services.

The Ocala show grounds–a similar facility was built by the family in Ohio earlier–were extended in August with the purchase of the 900-acre/360ha Ocala Jockey Club with plans to host eventing competitions as well as real estate development.

World Equestrian Center five-star hotel and one of two Grand competition arenas. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Rejection of the applications for international dressage and eventing competitions were found when dressage-news.com reviewed the calendar for events in 2022 that were required by the FEI to be submitted by Oct. 1, 2021. The calendar for 2022 lists 21 CDIs in the U.S., nine in Wellington, Florida, and the remainder spread across the country.

No events were listed for WEC Ocala.

The dispute between WEC and the USEF began last winter when the WEC organization said it was not granted enough U.S. federation licenses for hunter/jumper competitions so opted for authorization from the National Snaffle Bit Association of Gurnee, Illinois.

The situation has been likened to that of the Global Champions Tour of jumping which was not initially authorized by the FEI that also threatened to penalize officials at any unsanctioned GCT events. The FEI shortly thereafter approved GCT events.