I recall years ago when Lendon Gray was competing Idocus where her training barn was then based out of Bedford, New York, that she would come to Florida in March and bring a fresh barn full of horses winning most every class she competed in. The show weary competition was no match for the grateful horses who had come in from the cold, happy to be riding around the Wellington arenas. In a way that is how I feel when it comes to the other Wellington endurance sport, parties! Living up in rural central Florida where we are nestled between the Daytona Beach coast, and the Ocala horse country, it is a different world. Instead of being too tired for yet another event, it is fun to get dressed up, get in the car and head out for the 4 hour drive just in time to pull into the new show grounds of the Global Dressage Festival for the PREUSA kickoff event for this week’s Florida Classic CDI.
When we were in town in late December for the Emerging Dressage Athlete’s Program and visited the property under construction, the footing was stacked in huge compacted bales, construction crews were all at work, and the basic layout of the arenas was just black soil and survey markers. As we drove into the free valet parking in the magic hour of setting Florida sun, the outdoor stadium was in the pink glow of the setting sun, and the Van Kampen covered arena was getting what appeared to be the final roofing panels installed by construction workers still at it a 6:30 at night. The huge permanent barns are complete and full for the weekend’s competition about to begin. The party was packed in spite of multiple events going on that night. We found that one-hour before the event began there were still final touches being put on the facility.
It was a happy event featuring a full array of the gorgeous PRE Bred horses strutting their stuff in the stadium arena, not to mention the fabulous free food by Chef Fredo and hefty Sangria for all to enjoy. How exciting indeed for Dressage in the USA and in South Florida that our sport now warrants this new addition to the established and competitor friendly facilities at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, which hosted the Dressage World Masters, the IHS Palm Beach Dressage Derby, and the Welcome Back to White Fences series. Just like for the jumper world that flock to Wellington each winter with multiple opportunities, we now have full time schedule for dressage. West Palm Beach can now be labeled the Dressage Capitol of the world. Bravo to all whose hard work and passion created the opportunities for the sport.