World Equestrian Center Ocala, Florida & Wilmington, Ohio to Host USEF Licensed Dressage & Hunter Show Beginning Mar. 1
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Feb. 23, 2022
World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida and Wilmington, Ohio will run USEF licensed dressage and hunter competitions effective Mar. 1. National dressage competitions have been held at Ocala despite the dispute and the WEC organization said it plans to reintroduce CDI and FEI-level events in the “near future.”
US Equestrian and WEC announced the decision Wednesday saying that an agreement had been reached with WEC for licensed competitions at the Ocala and Wilmington show grounds pending finalization of license agreements. Refusal of the USEF to license dressage competitions at WEC in Ocala had triggered strong condemnation from competitors and owners.
“USEF is committed to providing the best competition options for USEF members where safety, fairness and enjoyment are paramount,” the federation said in a statement. “USEF appreciates the work of all organizers to offer quality events that meet the needs of our diverse membership to ensure they have sufficient opportunities to develop the skills of our equine and human athletes.
“We are committed to bringing the joy of horse sports to as many people as possible.”
WEC said in a statement: “After much discussion between the organizations, both parties agree that working together is in the best interest of the sport and will provide exhibitors with a safe and level playing field at both venues. In addition, the move aims to provide WEC customers with access to the best facilities and the ability to earn points for both invitational events, Indoors and year-end points-based awards supported by the USEF.”
The WEC shows were popular with the large number of national and international competitors based in Wellington, Florida, 245 miles south of Ocala. Riders were effusive in their praise of the quality of the WEC facility and many said they were dismayed that dressage was punished in a dispute that was unrelated to their sport.
The dispute between US Equestrian and WEC arose when the governing body of horse sports limited the number of licenses for hunter and jumper competitions at the Ocala show grounds built at a cost of more than $1 billion by the Robert family. The WEC organization turned to the National Snaffle Bit Association to sanction its hunter/jumper events that in turn led to the USEF denying applications for dressage shows.
Three CDIs, including two World Cup qualifiers, sanctioned by USEF and the International Equestrian Federation were staged at Ocala in 2021, the first year of operations.
The jumper shows at Ocala draw competitors from dozens of countries including both U.S. and foreign Olympic riders.